Gaffe in the assessment of answer sheets? Challenge Him: The Tribune India
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I Work has received a number of complaints from students about serious errors in the assessment of exam answer sheets. I think this is a matter that needs to be taken up with the authorities. How can I go about it?
I’m glad you brought this up because I’ve come across such cases as well and I think our rating system needs a complete overhaul. In one case, for example, a student had been declared “failed” in a particular subject, but when obtaining the answer sheet under the Right to Information Act (RTI), he was found that the examiner had forgotten to add the marks awarded for two answers, totaling 30 points! In another case, the evaluator did not give points for three answers!
I have also heard that teachers proficient in local languages are asked to assess answer sheets written in English, and vice versa. Some of the reviewers I spoke to agreed that they don’t do the students justice, but say they don’t have time to read the responses in the time allotted and are just skimming through the responses and give notes!
All of this says a lot about our examination system, and worse, such careless evaluation of answer sheets can have serious repercussions on students’ academic and career prospects. I have even come across cases where such an erroneous assessment has led to student suicides!
There is an urgent need to reform the system. I suggest you file a Public Interest Litigation (PIL), seeking the intervention of the High Court or the Supreme Court in the matter. But first, you must collect statistical data on the number of requests for reevaluation received by universities and school boards and the results of these complaints.
Judgments that can be useful?
The Right to Know Act and the 2011 Supreme Court ruling in Central Board of Secondary Education Vs Aditya Bandopadhyay (CA No. 6454 of 2011) holding that an answer sheet is “information under section 2(f) of the RTI Act and therefore students or applicants have a legal right under the RTI Act to have access to their answer sheets, helped students.
Previously, students were not allowed to request their answer sheets, and at best, they could only request the re-totaling of marks, and more often than not, such a request made with the payment of the corresponding fees does not brought no results. One student didn’t even know if the reviewing authority had even retotalled. Today, they can view their answer sheets and challenge erroneous tabulations or ratings and have them corrected. This is a very positive step, but the question is, why should there be errors in the first place? A PIL seeking an overhaul of the entire answer sheet grading system would be extremely helpful.
I recall the judgment of the Supreme Court in November 2006 in The President, Board of Secondary Education, Orissa Vs D Suvankar (CA No. 4926 of 2006), in which the court noted that the reviewing authorities had the overriding duty to choose examiners equipped for the job. “Otherwise, the very purpose of the assessment of response materials would be frustrated,” the court observed. The Supreme Court further stated, “Care should be taken that examiners who have been appointed for a particular subject are from the same faculty. It would be a travesty of the assessment system if a teacher from the Arts stream were asked to assess the answer assignments from the Science stream. The court also suggested that the jury constitute a body of experts to interview candidates for appointment as examiners.
So, in addition to calling for proper candidate selection, your petition should seek court instructions from the examining authorities to allow sufficient time for examiners to mark the papers, limit the number of answer sheets to be assessed in one day and also compensate examiners adequately for the work. All of these changes and an accountability system can bring the desired results.