As CBSE Proposes Open Book Exams For Classes 9-12, Parents Express Concern

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CBSE Open Book Exams: The proposed pilot is scheduled for November-December.

New Delhi:

In response to the Central Board of Secondary Education’s (CBSE) proposal to introduce Open Book Examinations (OBE) for students in classes 9 to 12, concerns have surfaced among parents and experts regarding its feasibility and implications.┬áThe decision, which was deliberated upon during last year’s governing body meeting, has sparked debates regarding its potential impact on the educational landscape.

This consideration aligns with the recommendations of the new National Curriculum Framework introduced last year.

The proposed pilot project, scheduled to be implemented this year, aims to assess the viability of OBE in selected schools and subjects, notably English, Mathematics, and Science for lower classes and English, Mathematics, and Biology for higher classes. While proponents highlight the potential benefits of reducing student stress and mitigating unfair practices such as cheating, critics voice apprehensions regarding infrastructure readiness and the practicality of implementation.

Experts emphasise that while OBE may foster critical thinking and problem-solving skills, its successful execution hinges upon adequate preparation and infrastructure, estimating a timeline of 5 to 8 years for full implementation across classes 10 to 12.

“It will require two to three years to empower our paper setters to create such types of questions, which can then be implemented in very limited subjects. After 5-8 years, we can implement them in Class 10 and Class 12 exams,” former CBSE chairman Ashok Ganguly said.

Moreover, parents express concerns about potential limitations for their children, particularly regarding the necessity of purchasing specific textbooks and the burden of note-taking. This apprehension underscores broader considerations about accessibility and equity in education.

Pilot Run:

The CBSE is planning a pilot run of open-book assessments in selected schools, targeting subjects -English, Mathematics, and Science for Classes 9 and 10, and English, Mathematics, and Biology for Classes 11 and 12. The aim is to gauge the time taken by students to complete these tests and gather feedback from stakeholders.

Open Book Examinations

Contrary to common perception, open-book exams aren’t necessarily easier than closed-book exams. They require students to demonstrate comprehension, analysis, and application of concepts rather than relying solely on memorisation. The focus lies on assessing higher-order thinking skills, critical analysis, and problem-solving abilities.

Pilot implementation and decision-making process

The proposed pilot is scheduled for November-December, with the Board intending to evaluate its efficacy before adoption. The assessment will emphasise higher-order thinking skills and creative problem-solving abilities.

Consultation and preparation

The CBSE plans to finalise the design and development of the OBE pilot by June, seeking guidance from Delhi University (DU), which pioneered open book tests during the Covid-19 pandemic. The initiative faced initial opposition, particularly concerning equitable access for underprivileged and visually challenged students.

Learnings from past experiments

The CBSE had previously experimented with an Open Text-Based Assessment (OTBA) format but discontinued it due to unfavourable feedback. Drawing from this experience, discussions within the curriculum committee emphasised the importance of high-quality textbooks and suggested involving teachers in the initial OBE trials to ensure standards akin to advanced placement examinations.

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