Last year, the CBSE introduced a new set of educational reforms with Continuous and Comprehensive Evaluation (CCE), suggesting an overhaul of the education system. Documents have been circulated across the country, and the intensive training by the CBSE to principals and teachers have been a noteworthy effort. What is striking about the whole exercise is the effort of the government to break away from the tyranny of examinations, which have been largely dominated by paper and pencil assessments.
As an educator, and now as a teacher-educator it aggrieves me that CCE has created more chaos rather than being welcomed by schools. The bewilderment it has generated is equivocal amongst school managements, teachers, students, parents, publishers and other agencies working in the field of education. Thus, there are schools demanding intensive CCE training for different stakeholders. Students feel that it will mean more assessments for them on an ongoing basis. Teachers feel that their work has increased tremendously with assessments having additional ‘descriptive indicators’.
It is shocking to look at some solutions that have immediately come up in the market like the CCE software which will help teachers grade the descriptive indicators. Such solutions further state that there is no need for anecdotal records; a software will grade all life skills, attitudes and values. Then, there are publishers who feel that adding more worksheets or assessments in books will make their books CCE-centered.
However, what is visible through all these efforts is the lack of understanding of the framework and ideology behind implementing CCE. Let’s examine some facets of CCE.
- Assessments should capture all three major goals of education – the psychomotor, cognitive and the affective.
- It does not imply breaking syllabus into smaller bits and testing students weekly through class tests because this is again paper and pencil assessment.
- It does not emphasize formal assessments only, rather assessments or observations are to be made in informal settings like break-time, in the corridor, in the playfield, etc.
- It goes beyond assessment as only a post-learning experience, rather it emphasizes on assessments to be made during the learning experience.
- It emphasizes on documenting the learner’s efforts in learning, processes of thinking to be captured through assessments.
- Emphasis is also on tailoring instruction according to different learning styles and assessing differentially. Differential assessments would mean giving more scope to learners to exhibit their understanding of concepts in a variety of ways like – role play, collecting material and displays, reading and writing tasks, surveys, presentations, etc. All these have to form a part and parcel of each theme that is dealt with in a classroom.
- Assessment to be continuous implies that children need to be assessed throughout the year through a range of tools and techniques.
- CCE tends to make assessments school-based and done by teachers. It does not mean increasing the subjective bias while assessing. Rather it implies that teachers need to corroborate their comments with concrete observations and anecdotes of learning.
- It also shifts the onus of assessing a learner not only to the class teacher rather assessment to be collaboratively done by all the subject teachers. Thus, this process of collaboration increases objectivity and validity instead of generating bias.
What goes behind the implementation of CCE?
- Shared lesson planning: Time needs to be set aside for teachers to plan lessons collectively. Not only the same subject teachers, but also collaboration of resources ought to happen with teachers taking up different subject areas. This shall encourage cross-curricular exchange.
- Reduced teacher pupil ratio: It is absolutely essential to have a small class, with the teacher-student ratio not exceeding 1:30 for effective implementation of the scheme. In the changed scenario, a teacher ought to maintain a number of records like child’s portfolios, anecdotal records, prepare checklists, rubrics for assessment. All this only becomes viable with a small class size.
- Sustained reading time: It is often observed that classroom issues remain only the prerogative of the class teacher. Her action on day to day class issues is often left to her practical wisdom. There is never an effort made to allocate time for helping teachers read on fundamental classroom issues, explore different research areas. Thus, reading amongst teachers is dying out. It needs to be a sustained school routine where pedagogical issues are addressed.
- Understanding pedagogy: As teachers it is important to understand different discourses in pedagogy. The field is evolving and thus even if we as teachers might have not undergone a formal course in the pedagogy of different disciplines, it is never too late to start reading to understand the learning process and how it relates to the child’s mind. An M.A. or any such degree in the core subject area, say for example English, or Physics, does not generally include and therefore does not assume a knowledge of pedagogy. Nor does a B.Ed. degree make a complete course in pedagogy. There are different courses in pedagogy being offered for different disciplines and understanding of this is absolutely integral to teaching and evaluation of learners.
- Flexible timetable: The implementation of the scheme also implies flexible timetables. Imagine the plight of the child’s mind buffering between different subjects one after the other, switching on and off within the span of 30 minutes. Further, to observe the processes of learning, every subject shall require block periods of at least one hour ten minutes to justify teaching, learning and simultaneous evaluation. In case of an outdoor activity, this time maybe extended.
There are many more systemic changes which ought to be in place before the implementation of CCE. Flexibility, change and willingness to learn are the key factors.
Anecdotal records – an important means of evaluating learners
Anecdotal Records are an effective way of tracking a child’s performance as required under the Comprehensive and Continuous Evaluation scheme. In the first place, it is important to understand that an anecdotal record means citing specific examples from inside or outside the classroom that can help in unravelling a child’s attributes – the cognitive, the affective or the psychomotor.
Below are highlighted some of the facets of anecdotal records.
- Anecdotes ought to describe the context, and capture the child’s behavior.
- They should be recorded ‘’verbatim’’, without any interpretation by the observer.
- They can be brief or detailed.
- They should state facts (what was observed and not an interpretation of the observation).
- Value-based words that convey assumptions like good, bad, mild, aggressive ought to be completely avoided while recording.
- They can be recorded both inside and outside the classroom.
These records can unleash a lot of information about the child’s learning style, strategies he/she uses. Let’s consider some examples of anecdotal records coupled with teacher’s comments:
Shriya provides multiple reasons behind occurrence of a phenomenon. It was a delightful experience to read Shriya’s insights about why a cat cannot live in water. She explained that “it has lungs and hence it can’t live in water. She added further that it does not have an oily body or fins to live in water.” She uses wall display readily to collect information.
Vishnu has begun to establish causal relations between phenomenon around him and reason logically. While drawing inferences about what changes a cat has to undergo to live in water he wrote: “It should have a flat body, fins, gills and an oily body.” He supplements his thoughts with well labelled illustrations.
The above anecdotes capture the reasoning and thinking skills of a child.
Radhika chooses to retell a familiar story in her own words when it comes to story writing. She writes a story giving an appropriate beginning, developing the plot and the character as can be seen in the story “The race day”. She can write spellings paying attention to the key sounds in a word; for instance she wrote “disided” for “decided”.
The above anecdote captures the extent of details captured by a child while retelling a story.
Digvijay displays leadership qualities by trying to reason when faced with unfamiliar situations. Recently during one of the outdoor activities involving the digging of ponds, Digvijay displayed his resourcefulness by using various resources available in the environment to open the jammed tap of the hose pipe.
The above anecdote talks about the child who learns best through nature and hands-on activities. Anecdotes can be written to document a child’s positive or negative behavior. A teacher needs to be very careful while recording observations. Examples about a child’s emotional response, social behavior, group work, team play, adaptation to difficult situations are as important as a child’s academic performance. Anecdotes ought to be recorded in a variety of situations and on different activities.
The author works with Oxford University Press India and is currently involved in teacher training. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.