Published: 31st August 2021
Grades vs Marks: Andhra Pradesh reopens a grand old debate by dropping grades and reverting to marks for Class 10
You would think that the major stakeholders in a debate on secondary schools' marking system would be students. As it turns out, that's not always the case
Last week, Andhra Pradesh's Principal Secretary for Education, B Rajasekhar announced that the State's Secondary Education Board was reverting to a marks system for evaluation of Class X students from the grading system which was introduced when the state was the unified Andhra Pradesh in 2010. The Director of School Education, who submitted the proposal for the change, said that it was being implemented because "too many students with the same grades was making the process of admission tedious".
The National Education Framework that was released by the then Central Government, in 2009, stressed on student-centric learning which sought to remove undue pressure. Following that, several states had come forward to implement a grading system wherein students would be awarded a range in which they scored the marks. This system was touted to reduce competition among students, and prevent them from falling prey to the infamous rat race that marks brought about.
When did other states get on board?
Karnataka was a little late to the party, as they introduced the grading system only in 2020, even though the state government in 2015 had cleared the proposal submitted by the Karnataka Secondary Education Examination Board in 2014. Karnataka had a five-point system from A+ to C, whereas Kerala, who also introduced the system in 2020, had a nine-point system. Unlike most other states though, Kerala's result statement doesn't include the marks scored by the students in the exam.When the system was introduced, it did have its critics including parents and teachers who said that it might cause students to start getting lax about examinations.
Why would states go back to marks?
However, West Bengal was one of the first states to revert back to the old marking system in 2011 citing cut-off complications created by grades. Tamil Nadu has also had a marking system which they were hoping to transition to grades, although this year with the pandemic, it has cleared all students, by-passing the need for calculating either grades or marks.
What do parents want?
The switch back to marks will be detrimental, say parent groups. Speaking with Express, the Andhra Pradesh Patasala Parents Association secretary P Chandram said, “Even though the government is claiming that reintroduction of marks will benefit the students and overcome the difficulties during admissions and recruitment, it will create pressure among them. We are appealing to the government to reconsider its decision to benefit the student community,”
However, Yasasvi Santosh, who is the Director of Sparks Academy, says that there are multiple aspects to this story. "It depends on the lens you are looking at it from," says the educationist, elaborating, "As far as admission into intermediate courses is concerned, the students only need to pass. However, where the grading system can create issues is the postgraduate level with courses such as MBA which have profile-based shortlisting. There are discrepancies between various boards. Some are lenient, and some are not, and similar grades from two different boards might be perceived differently."
The topper syndrome
Then there is also the issue of the so-called toppers, for whom this might be a positive move, as the grading system didn't essentially differentiate between the "toppers" and the "above-average" students. "Those extra few marks would mean a lot for the toppers who put in that extra effort," she explains. However, the confidence of other students might end up taking a hit again, with the reintroduction of the marks system.
The two-fold debate also opens up the case of private corporate intermediate institutions in the state, who have made it a habit to segregate students into sections based on their Class X marks so they can focus on the cream of the pile, to secure good seats in professional courses such as medicine and engineering.