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Yangchen C Rinzin 

Despite criticism on the implementation of the new assessment criteria in schools, experts say that its introduction is timely and critical to the success of the National School Curriculum (NSC) implemented beginning this academic session.

The education ministry’s new assessment criteria mandate students from class IV to XII to obtain a minimum of 40 percent in both continuous assessment (CA) and written examination to pass the examination. CA will be now rated based on different categories based on respective subjects.

Concerns

The People’s Democratic Party called on the government to implement the new school assessment rule from the next academic year, according to a press release from the party.

The press release stated that this changed assessment system will change students and teachers’ learning and teaching behaviour, however, it will take time to adapt.

“The change announced and implemented in the ongoing academic session is unfair and insensitive. Everyone is aware that our schools have been disrupted due to the pandemic, and students did not have the normal conducive learning environment,” the press release stated.

It also stated that students are struggling to make up for the missed learnings and lessons,  the additional burden of having to meet up to the requirement of the new assessment system would be stressful for a large number of students and teachers.

However, PDP welcomed the change in the assessment system. “But the change should have come only after in-depth research and thorough consultation, not abruptly and direct.”

Experts say

The dean and curriculum developer from the department of curriculum and professional development, earlier known as Royal Education Council, Wangpo Tenzin said that the ministry implemented NSC from this academic session so the new assessment criteria have to be implemented to move in line with the new curriculum.

“We must remember that we can never separate assessment from curriculum, they should move together,” he said. “We cannot change only curriculum and not the assessment criteria else, it won’t make sense that assessment criteria are old and curriculum is new.”

Wangpo Tenzin said that there were always four elements of curriculum—learning outcomes, learning experience, teacher implementation and assessment component.

He said that is why when NSC, which was earlier known as the new normal curriculum was implemented because of the changing situation, the assessment component also had to change.

“The NSC is purely competency-based learning so, the assessment must also include assessment of CA, which would make a holistic assessment of the child’s learning,” Wangpo Tenzin said. “Examination alone cannot assess the child’s competency.”

Some of the components of CA are project work, environment profile, unit or class test, scrapbook, and research skills, among others. There are different categories against each subject. Teachers are well aware of all the components and how to achieve them, according to Wangpo Tenzin.

“The reason to keep 40 percent was that if we don’t give importance to CA, then we can never achieve our objective of NSC, which is competency-based. The implementation of new assessment criteria was vital as much as we had to complement NSC,” he said.

He added intellectual, social, emotional, cultural and physical competencies of students are some of the domains of NSC. 

The new criteria were supposed to start last year but the Covid-19 pandemic closed schools the entire academic year.

An official from BCSEA said that then it was planned to implement this year and with pandemic here to stay, it was only sensible to implement from this year.

“If not now then when because we cannot wait for the perfect time when the new curriculum is already implemented?” the official said. “The assessment is nothing new, of which teachers are well aware and the only thing is they have to put extra effort and make students understand the importance of CA.”

Edited by Tshering Palden

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