Public (Board) examination

Why performance of children takes a nosedive in Grade XI.

This trend has been the norm for a couple of years now. A CGPA of 10 is no guarantee that your child will secure passing marks in the first summative exam in Class XI. However, it must be demystified that all this has less to do with the ‘level of Class XI’ and it is more about the learning achievements till Class X being highly inflated and not reflecting the ‘real academic level/conceptual clarity’ achieved by children.

There are no two opinions about Class XI curriculum being several levels up over Class X but it is not that Class XI level is far ‘too high or tough’; in fact, one cannot make a ‘lower level’ syllabus for Class XI, it cannot be diluted!

The real issues of Class XI could be listed as under:

a. The Class X syllabus has been greatly diluted to be within easy reach of the students of weaker socio-economic backgrounds; the gulf between Class X and Class XI has significantly widened. Expectedly, the gulf cannot be filled by pulling down the Class XI syllabus to match the diluted Class X syllabus (there is higher education to be pursued after school).
b. The dismal quantity of quality teachers in senior secondary greatly aggravates the quality issues in teaching; less-than-acceptable quality teaching is the norm in senior secondary. Schools cannot be faulted beyond a point – there will be no pool of quality teachers available for schools if we, the parents, value tuitions and coaching by the same set of teachers far higher than their teaching in schools.
c. There is a jump of at least a ‘multiple of 10’ in the volume of content to be read and transacted in Class XI as compared to content in Class X. And imagine the situation if your child is a poor reader (a highly probable situation).
d. Many of the ‘better students’ in Classes IX and X end up in coaching classes and neglect English language development. As a result, their ability to self-learn English-medium textbooks dramatically reduces as they move to Class XI.
e. Our guess is that a majority of children who begin coaching while in Classes IX and X end up with a degree of fatigue by the time they face the first term of Class XI. For many children, the style of teaching in coaching centres is also quite a shocker – very different from the prevalent teaching practices in a school (for good as well as bad).
f. It cannot also be denied that the school syllabus has its own rhythm and style and as the children run around in tuition and coaching centres, they end up losing touch with the school syllabus.
g. We must also give a thought to the quality of teachers and teaching in coaching centres. What if the quality of coaching centres leaves a lot to be desired? What if the social and physical environments at the coaching centres are highly stressful? Unfortunately, in many cases, it is the truth.
h. In Class XI, the issue of weaker coordination in the teaching of maths, Physics and Chemistry becomes more pronounced. For instance, Class XI Physics depends heavily on vectors but maths may not address it adequately, in time for application in Physics.
i. The hearing-based teaching-learning method – lectures – as the primary mode of learning is inherently weaker if not supported by adequate amount of reading and practice. Unfortunately, there is little reading done and limited time to practice after attending school, tuitions for board preparation and coaching for competitive exams, Facebook time, Internet games, time with friends, etc.

To be honest, the root of this problem is directly traceable to Classes VI and VII; your child’s performance would have been under stress for quite a few years. It was artificially inflated to keep the problem away – it is very likely that he did not become a skilled reader; English language comprehension and writing remained poor; maths and science concepts remained fuzzy.

In fact, if you, the parents, could focus on the performance of your child in the summative assessments only instead of ‘unit tests, Monday tests or other formative assessments’, you will get a more realistic view of your child’s performance.

And forget the blame game, do not blame the school for the inflation in marks that hid the problem from raising its head; we know umpteen instances of poor parenting, when parents took the call to go to their child’s school to fight for quarter of a mark in English language or maths unit tests in Class III and bought homework projects, and outsourced homework to tuition teachers.

Let us stop pressurising schools for marks; in these times when your child’s Facebook account can be accessed even twenty years later to know what your child was really up to in the past (and for that matter even your posts could be accessed), who will bother about getting some teacher’s evaluation of your child several years in the past.

Focus on the culture of reading and self-study as well as the conceptual clarity on all concepts ever taught to your child!

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