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‘Normalisation’ Of Marks Has Top DU Colleges Cut-Off At 100% Where Do Other Deserving Students Go?

Posted: October 12, 2020

Top colleges in Delhi University have declared cut-offs at 100% marks in the current situation in education. A mother talks about the heartbreak other deserving students go through.  

5500

That is the number of Delhi University applicants who have 100% as the average of their four best scores of grade 12, one of which has to be English!

(There might be far many more with the same marks across India)

Say this number out aloud again.

There are 5500 children at least who have scored 100 in English.

Mind-boggling isn’t it?

Let me share some more statistics with you.

For 70,000 odd seats, DU had received 353,153 applications.

Why this big spike in applications this year?

  1. Due to the pandemic, the academic calendar of most institutions has been thrown off gear. Many children have chosen to stay back and study in India rather than go abroad.
  2. There was a big delay in conducting and declaring the results for various entrance based professional courses. Many students applied for DU too, as their backup option
  3. The registration for DU was open for 10 weeks instead of the usual 3

That is as far as the high number of registrations go.

But what about those stratospheric scores?

2020, to put it mildly, has been a unique year!

The exam schedule of grade 12 was disrupted in the middle due to the first lockdown, and eventually all the pending exams were suspended. Marks were finally declared in August after arriving at a normalization formula or an assessment scheme for the scrapped exams.

The students, under this scheme, were divided into three categories.

First category – Candidates who had taken more than three exams before March 19th, 2020. They were awarded the average marks of the ‘best three performing subjects, i.e., subjects where maximum marks were scored’ as the marks for the cancelled examination.

Second Category – Children who took exams in three subjects before lockdown. The average marks scored in ‘best two performing subjects’  were the marks awarded for their cancelled examinations.

Third category – Candidates who took two exams until March 18. Their results were calculated based on their performance in the exams and the internal assessment.

Truly unique way of awarding marks!

Were there any alternative methods of marking?

Some educators did talk about taking the average of year-long internal assessments, projects, etc. But this method didn’t find much favor because most of the children, busy with entrance exams’ prepping, rarely take the internals seriously.

A surreal & traumatic scenario for students and parents

The thinking heads at CBSE in their innate wisdom have come up with this master plan, but did they visualize this surreal scenario where there are at least 5500 children who have averaged 100% across four subjects?

That is the distinctive advantage of hindsight. Gives you the wisdom after testing you.

With limited seats and sky-rocketing marks, when the topmost colleges of DU have now officially shut their doors for an average child, where does the above-average child go? What are the options left to take? (once the heartache and tears subside)

  • The mushrooming private institutions with their exorbitant fee structure whose efficacy hasn’t been tested yet? Gyan Gurus at this point will add, they are way cheaper than a foreign degree! Still, how many can afford them?
  • Or join the tier two colleges of DU, since the basic curriculum remains the same, work harder, and hope to break into good post-graduate programs? And hope against hope, that when the companies come talent-scouting say in 2023, the employers would remember, what a difficult year 2020 had been, and will not limit job-letters to just top colleges.
  • Join tier two colleges anyways with a prayer that as more and more high-percenters join, with the passage of time, eventually, the quality of the said institutions will rise. Simultaneously ramp up their portfolios with internships, extra courses, etc

Also, how does one counsel a child, who has worked hard through the year and due to a bad Russian roulette, ends up staring at the wrong side of a result?

How does one counsel a youngster, who toils putting in unheard-of hours, shunning the fun?

What answers does one have, when a 98.5% awardee declares with utter disenchantment, ‘I have lost faith in the system!’ This at the tender age of 18!

College names matter!

One utterly practical approach is, ‘deal with it, make the best of the lemons handed, drink your lemonade and move on!’

But not all are so strong!

Agreed, education is just the means and not the end of it. What one does with the degree eventually is how one’s life pans out. Branch vs brand is an age-old debate but hey, a great brand (of college that is) providing quality atmospherics and education is a better launching pad for a youngster.

  • Because the peer groups matter
  • The campus life matters
  • And the connections made in there matter

The last time a 100% cutoff happened was in 2015. Everyone was aghast and cried blue murder. Eventually, all was forgotten, even though the cutoffs for popular courses have been consistently rising by .25% points at the least. Five years hence, we are back to the breaking point of 100% cutoff. 2021 portends to be worse with syllabus slashing, online teaching, and paper pattern change.

Some essential infrastructure changes to consider

If we were to have a happier next-gen studying within the country, some grassroots level changes may have to be made in the admission process.

Consider which board the child studied in

Right now DU admissions branch treats all the boards whether ICSE, CBSE or State-Boards at par. There was to be a level playing field depending on the depth and vastness of curriculum tackled in Grade 12.

Increase number of seats

As veteran journalist Shekhar Gupta says, ‘These 100% cut-offs in Delhi colleges & ‘mark-sheet elitism’ speaks of the crippling under-supply in our education.’ Increase the seats available by a vast multiple. Demand is staggering.

Invest in infrastructure

Those who can pay more for better education should. Increase the cash flow into other states so that universities across India have a common minimum standard

Have a system for applications

Rather than letting all apply for all seats, individual ranks must be generated for each applicant based on their scores in the exams, age, exam-board, preferences etc. Top rankers get top seats.

Release unused seats

Recalibrate the reservation list suitably. Unused seats should be made available for deserving candidates.

Flexible subject combination options

Few courses like Economics, Commerce, Psychology attract more applications. Generate newer combinations keeping in with Industry’s needs. Emulate the Liberal Arts philosophy.

This is a very testing and heartbreak time for many. It is very difficult to say, ‘this too shall pass, keep the faith, take practical and educated decisions. But seriously, what else can one do?

Image source: shutterstock

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Anupama Jain is the author of 'When Padma Bani Paula', a breezy novel about second

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