Near perfect scores in board exam is a testimony to the faulty assessment pattern

Near perfect scores in board exam is a testimony to the faulty assessment pattern

opines Mrs. Swarnima Luthra, Principal, ASN Senior Secondary School, Delhi

How long have you been associated with ASN Senior Secondary School? What is your vision?

My association with ASN Senior Secondary School has been since 1995. My vision resonates with the vision of the School i.e. to have an intellectually possessed an amiable society, spreading the light of education all over the world, moulding every individual environmentally conscious, socially endowed, making the planet ‘Earth’ worthy for living.

The ongoing pandemic has shifted the traditional classrooms to rectangular screens. All of us are digitally connected now, wherein the classroom protocols can easily be averted. What ‘s the better medium according to you, the digital one or the traditional one we have had or so many years?

With the increased use of digital classroom resources for providing enriching content, the traditional chalk and talk method has already undergone a major change for meeting the needs of present generation of students. Tech-natives for whom technology is a part of everyday life, I advocate blended learning approach that takes advantage of the best elements of both online and face-to-face education. i.e. imbibing online delivery of educational content with the features of classroom interaction and live interaction making learning customized, self-paced, personalized yet at the same time catering to the social and emotional needs of the learners in a physical setting.

Our teachers are under huge stress since the beginning of the pandemic; from coping with the internet connections and erratic power supply to more structural issues like curriculum designing and teaching techniques. How are your teachers overcoming such challenges? Did you arrange for some special training for them?

Covid-19 pandemic has brought in a sea of change in the education sector where educationists, teachers and students all over the globe have adopted to the new normal of a completely tech-mediated teaching-learning process. With foresight and effective planning, my staff has been able to reduce such interruptions to the minimum and maintain free flow of the lessons. To ensure that all the cogs ran smoothly in the Learn@Home mode of online education, my staff worked day and night re-visiting our technology platforms, acquiring some new solutions and engaging with our technology partners for seamless integration of these technologies into our learning management systems. A series of online training sessions were conducted for the entire school staff to make them competent for effective and smooth delivery of lessons. Our committed teachers worked tirelessly in preparing quality study material for keeping the students engaged in creative pursuits. A well chalked out schedule for the classes was prepared and shared with the students. A multitude of platforms like Microsoft Teams, Zoom, Snap HW and digital tools like Podcasts and Padlets were used in teaching learning processes and online assessments.

In this new kind of one-way teaching, how are they (the teachers) managing and monitoring student’s active involvement?

I will not call the new tech-mediated teaching-learning as one-way teaching as all of my teachers have created a classroom culture of reciprocity where the students get opportunities to freely express themselves through active participation in discussions, projects and activities. Extra emphasis and thought has been put up by us in designing co-curricular activities to foster creativity and a sense of togetherness amongst students. My students have been actively participating in a multitude of cultural, literary and multimedia events such as talent hunt, online debates, quizzes, poster and movie making, health and hygiene drive, show and tell, at school and inter-school levels. Students with their parents have been whole-heartedly participating in various engaging activities organized by the school for the celebration of national and international days as per the co-scholastic calendar of the school. The school website and facebook page is abuzz with all the latest happenings providing a much needed social connect among the members of the school community. Various webinars on career counselling, updating skills and knowledge resources like Liberal Education in India, Innovation enabled by Microsoft Teams and Technology, Developing Entrepreneurial Thinking in 21st century, Cyber Safety, New normal in Education, Exploring the role of Competency Based Assessment and many more were organized for both student and teaching fraternity.

As you already know National Education Policy (NEP) 2020 has been approved and is expected to be implemented shortly. Your comments?

The NEP 2020 is revolutionary, aiming to transform education system by 2040. I find it more practical in approach aiming at universal access to school education. Focus on developing scientific temper, hands on vocational training, fostering 21st century skills in learners, multi-stream flexibility etc. are some of the key features of this policy which I am sure would broaden the horizon of the educators and bring about a change in mindsets of students and make them competent to face the global challenges.

What are your thoughts on students achieving near perfect scores in board exams? How will NEP solve this aberration in our examination system?

Near perfect scores in board exam is a testimony to the faulty assessment pattern which is putting a premium on rote learning instead of originality of thought and creativity and real inherent intelligence. A test score of 100% indicates that the learner has reached the zenith of success in that particular subject and there is no further scope of improvement. And the most worrying issue is of the emotional trauma faced by those learners who inspite of being among the brightest are not sure of getting a seat in their favourite college due to inflated college cut offs. The culture of assessment that primarily tests rote memorization skills needs a transformation to a more formative competency based approach which promotes learning and development in our students and tests higher order skills.

NEP has a grand vision to tackle this issue. NEP aims at Assessment for learning testing the skills of the learners like analytical skills, critical thinking and conceptual clarity. Board exams will encourage holistic development and will primarily test core competencies of the learners. Also at school level, the assessments will be based on achievement of learning outcomes through assessment of core concepts and knowledge along with higher order skills and application of knowledge in real life situations.

What are the key challenges that you go through as a leader and how do you overcome it?

When you are in the position of the head of the institution you would face a lot of challenges as the saying goes Uneasy lies the head that wears the crown.

One of the biggest areas of responsibility and a major challenge is definitely influencing the performance of the students. I make sure that my students are performing as well as they possibly can and for this I use academic planning tools that are cutting edge and encourage the teachers to use innovative practices that ensure learning environment best suited to students’ needs.

Secondly, I would say that fostering a healthy work environment and finding creative ways to build, support and community with the teachers is another challenge which needs appropriate handling.

As a school principal, what I strive to meet is ensuring students feel safe in their school environment particularly in today’s time when we face increased physical and mental safety issues among students and also make sure that all staff members are prepared to respond to a wide range of emergencies.

Dealing with parents is a crucial factor in school education. What is your opinion?

Parents are important stakeholders in schools. A strong and positive bond between homes and schools play an important role in the development and education of children. The schools need to envision parents as partners in the learning process as this aids in children’s academic achievements, social competencies and emotional well-being. When parents and teachers work as partners, children do better in school as well as at home. As school leader, we need to identify concrete ways to involve parents in activated roles. I encourage the parents of my school to participate in school functions and activities, as guest speakers, as judges for competitions, as trainers, as members of parent teacher association etc. thereby fostering a healthy relationship with them.

Would you like to share any message with our readers?

The world has changed so fundamentally in the last few decades that the roles of learning and education in day-to-day living have also changed to address the challenges of the future. A few years ago, it was a norm that whatever was taught to the students would last a lifetime. But with ongoing trends of globalization, technological progress and demographic change, the schools have a challenging task of preparing students for careers that have not yet been created, technologies that have not yet been invented and problems that we don’t yet know will arise. In other words, we as educators have to develop 21st century skills in our learners who can apply depth of their skills to a progressively widening scope of situations, and experiences, gaining new competencies, building relationships and assuming new roles.