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Method to evaluate students academic performance amid Covid 19 pandemic

Method to evaluate students academic performance amid Covid 19 pandemic

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  • GS 2 || Governance & Social Justice || Human Development || Education

Why in the news?

  • The pandemic has significantly disrupted the education sector as well, which is a critical determinant of a country’s economic future.
  • With a massive surge in COVID-19 cases, the Central government cancelled the CBSE Class X examination and postponed the Class XII examination scheduled to be held from May 4.
  • The International Baccalaureate and several State Boards had taken similar decisions.

What are the challenges?

  • Aligning examinations of various Boards is a practical necessity since admission to higher education courses must be done uniformly and entrance examinations have to be conducted for professional courses.
  • While the government has bought itself time to address the wildfire spread of COVID-19 by getting public examinations out of the way, students are left wondering about the nature of formative academic assessment that will be applied to their Class X performance during the year gone by, which was marked by a shift to online classes and TV-based instruction.
  • Lack of connectivity/ Country’s digital divide
    • For many, it was a total lack of access without electricity, connectivity, computers, and smartphones.
    • The challenge now is to take up formative assessments where pen-and-pencil annual examinations cannot be held.
    • Internet access was restricted to 15% of rural and 42% of urban households.
    • The negative fallout could be that the country’s digital divide will get more pronounced. Poor students with less access to devices, connectivity, and private space will suffer greatly.
    • UDIS
      • The Unified District Information System for Education data show that in 2017-18, there were 1,88,742 rural schools and 83,207 urban schools under all managements.
      • Data from the National Sample Survey (NSS) for the same year indicate that only 4% of rural households and 23% of urban households had a computer.
  • Commercialisation of Education
    • With online education becoming a norm in the post-pandemic era, there is a significant possibility of corporate houses, technology firms, and educational institutions working much more closely together.
    • Though this may have a big positive effect on the education sector, it may further aggravate the ongoing commercialization of the education sector and exclude the self-dependent tutors.
  • Fear of dropouts and child labour
    • Disadvantaged, at-risk, or homeless children are more unlikely to return to school after the closures are ended, and the effect will often be a life-long disadvantage from lost opportunities.
    • A livelihood loss for low earning families has drawn severe triggers for dropouts and child labour as well.

How are educational institutions responding to Covid- 19?

  • Measures taken by the educational institutes are as follows:
    • Closed schools
    • Postponed or rescheduled the examinations
    • Cleaning and sanitisation of premises.
    • Consideration of long-term uncertainty etc.

Education sector: Impact and concern during COVID-19

  • Postponement of major exams
    • All major entrance examinations are postponed including engineering, medical, law, agriculture, fashion and designing courses, etc.
    • This situation can be a ringing alarming bell mainly in private sector universities. Maybe some faculties and employees may face salary cuts, bonuses and increments can also be postponed.
    • The lockdown has generated uncertainty over the exam cycle. Maybe universities may face an impact in terms of a slowdown in student internships and placements, lower fee collection that can create hurdles in managing the working capital.
  • Paying capacity getting effected
    • Another major concern is that it can affect the paying capacity of several people in the private sector, which is catering to a sizeable section of the students in the country.
    • Student counseling operations are also affected.
    • Several institutions may pause faculty hiring plans for existing vacancies which in turn affect quality and excellence.
    • The structure of schooling and learning includes teaching and assessment methodologies and due to closure, it will be affected.
  • Role of technology
    • Technology may play an important role in the lockdown period like study from home and work from home. In India, some private schools could adopt online teaching methods. Low-income private and government schools may not be able to adopt online teaching methods.
    • And as a result, there will be completely shut down due to no access to e-learning solutions. In addition to the opportunities for learning, students will also miss their meals and may result in economic and social stress.
  • Scenario across the world
    • Higher education sectors are also disrupted which again pave an impact on the country’s economic future. Various students from India took admissions in abroad like the US, UK, Australia, China, etc. And these countries are badly affected due to COVID-19.
    • Maybe there is a possibility that students will not take admissions there in the future and if the situation persists, in the long run then there will be a decline in the demand for international higher education also.
  • Employment- A bigger issue
    • Another major concern is employment. Students who have completed their graduation may have fear in their minds of withdrawal of job offers from the corporate sector due to the current situation.
    • The Centre for Monitoring Indian Economy estimates unemployment shortage from 8.4% in mid-March to 23% in early April. In the urban unemployment rate is 30.9%.
    • We can’t ignore that technology plays a crucial role in the educational system and the demand for the current situation is this only.

Possible alternatives

  • With the help of power supply, digital skills of teachers and students, internet connectivity it is necessary to explore digital learning, high and low technology solutions, etc
  • Students those are coming from low-income groups or presence of disability, etc. distance learning programs can be included.
  • To provide support for digitalization to teachers and students.
  • The necessity to explore digital learning platforms.
  • Measures should be taken to mitigate the effects of the pandemic on job offers, internship programs, and research projects.
  • EDtech reform at the national level is an integration of technology in the present Indian education system.
  • At this time of crisis effective educational practice is needed for the capacity-building of young minds. Central Government and State need to take some measures to ensure the overall progress in the country.

Formative assessment an alternative(Detail)

  • Formative assessment
    • The annual high-stakes public school examination is referred to as a summative assessment.
    • It had to be cancelled or deferred this year also due to the pandemic, and the academic system had to fall back on continuous evaluation techniques or other metrics. This is known as formative assessment.
    • According to UNESCO, the key aspects of this pattern are the use of observation, quizzes, assignments, and feedback.
    • The CBSE introduced a formative assessment system through a Continuous and Comprehensive Evaluation (CCE) framework in 2009- 10 but abandoned it in favour of a compulsory public examination for Class X, eight years later.
  • However, the year 2020-21 stands apart due to the disruption to routine schooling and the use of online and remote instruction.
  • UNESCO says that in such a remote-learning situation, formative assessment has to rely on Learning Management Solutions and digital tools such as the open-source Moodle, Google Classroom, and Schoology, and other tools that facilitate the creation of adaptive instructions for personalized learning.
  • Many teachers in India used video-calling tools to deliver instructional material and to coach and assess students.
  • The Boards must now come up with a formative assessment framework that fixes clear metrics.

Steps to be taken

  • Online education as a public good: The federal government and state governments should work together to make technology more accessible to all students in public schools.
    • Private actors may also involve tech-based organizations as part of their Corporate Social Responsibility to make e-resources usable and available to students, especially in government and low-income private schools.
  • Expansion of the Right to Education’s Scope: The concept of the right to education should be broadened to include and encourage online education, as well as the importance of accessibility and access to knowledge and information.
  • Embracing the teaching profession: Digital innovation offers a unique potential for educational democratization.
    • However, conditions must be created that enable frontline educators to work collaboratively and with autonomy.
  • Education institutions’ social spaces must be safeguarded: Online education must take the place of traditional classroom organization. School or education, on the other hand, as a social space (where a student not only learns academic knowledge but also many social skills) is important.
  • Including science literacy in the curriculum: Now is an excellent time to think about the curriculum, particularly because our culture continues to struggle with superstitions and actively combats misinformation.
  • Multi-pronged strategy
    • multi-pronged strategy is necessary to manage the crisis and build a resilient Indian education system in the long term.
    • Immediate measures like Open-source digital learning solutions and Learning Management Software should be adopted so teachers can conduct teaching online.
    • The DIKSHA platform, with reach across all states in India, can be further strengthened to ensure accessibility of learning to the students.

Way forward

  • ‘Equality of Opportunity is one of the basic principles of the Indian Constitution.
  • Shifting to a system that benefits only a section of people and leaves behind the neediest ruins the very notion of this statement.
  • Moreover, digital education is something where India is not successful yet. There is still a lot to do in terms of checking if students’ entitlements are not being compromised or in providing meaningful academic curriculum alternatives.
  • Covid-19 has shown how the Indian educational system takes advantage of disparities.
  • As a result, renewed commitments to the synergy between the private and public education sectors are needed. In this context, it is essential to make education a public good, and digital innovation will assist in this endeavor.

Mains model question