… 48,909 students scored lower than 40% on the midterm examination 

Yangchen C Rinzin  

Around 46 percent of Class IV-XII students scored lower than 40 percent on the 2021 midterm examinations, according to the Ministry of Education’s consolidated midterm examination report.

According to the report, a total of 48,909 (IV-XII) students out of 107,006 total students failed their examinations. Specifically, 25,599 male students and 23,310 female students scored lower than 40 percent. The ministry’s Education Monitoring Division (EMD) conducted the survey to analyse student performance on the midterm examinations.

The largest percentage of the 48,909 students was from Thimthrom, where 6,874 students failed. Samtse and Mongar dzongkhags had 4,432 and 3,274 failing students, respectively.

The survey was conducted to complement the ministry’s recent decision to reform the assessment system. The ministry applied a revised assessment structure beginning in June of this year. The new assessment structure requires students to score a minimum of 40 percent in both continuous assessments and written examinations to qualify for promotion to a higher grade.

The new assessment system was launched to streamline and assess the actual learning of students. Following numerous concerns after the launch, the ministry conducted the survey.

Data was collected from all public and private schools with classes IV-XII except six schools in Phuentsholing thromde, Chumithang Middle Secondary Schools in Chukha, and Gomtu Higher Secondary School in Samtse.

In the report, shared with all schools, Department of School Education Director General Karma Galay said that all stakeholders must urgently strategise interventions to improve student performance.

“If a majority of students fail the annual examination, it will result in an unmanageable number of students repeating the same grade in the next academic year, with huge cost implications,” the director general wrote.

The data revealed Class IX to have the highest number of students who scored lower than 40 percent, which was 7,212 students.

Students performed poorly in Mathematics and Science, with 21,976 and 21,057 students from Classes IV to VIII, respectively, failing in the subjects.

A total of 18,818 students in Classes IX-XII scored lower than 40 percent in Mathematics and Science subjects (e.g. chemistry, biology, and physics).

The EMD strongly recommends all dzongkhags or thromde education offices to uniformly implement the revised assessment structure.

It recommends that: “Schools can also use the report to facilitate professional development programmes and other supporting resources…Schools must analyse student performance and strategise interventions for improvement.”

Discipline strategies initiated in schools

Meanwhile, the EMD also reviewed strategies initiated by various schools to improve the performance of lower-performing students, as well as disciplinary measures.

Some of the initiatives include conducting weekly tests upon completion of chapters, and presenting midterm result analysis to teachers, parents, and students.

Some schools shared that subject teachers have identified lower-performing students and have provided remedial lessons after school, including bridging classes especially for Classes IV-VI where the school remained shut the entire academic last year.

Many schools have also initiated peer-assisted learning, or pairing lower-performing students with higher-performing students.

To improve discipline, many principals said that they have begun initiatives like Home Group, where small groups of students receive specialised care from designated homegroup parents.

Many schools also conduct a principal-child conference with students who have disciplinary issues. Students who are identified as having critical issues are referred to school counsellors.

A common strategy found in many schools was conducting discipline committee-child conferences and discipline committee-parent conferences.

“Every class teacher maintains a behavioural record book to document behavioural problems in individual students,” the review found. “They have also revisited school discipline policies that emphasise teaching traditional codes of etiquette, Za Cha Dro Sum and Driglam Namzha, in schools.”

During the survey, schools were asked to submit information through Google Sheets by September. Over 50 percent of the submitted data was verified through phone calls before analysis was conducted.

Edited by Tshering Palden