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CBSE considers open book exams for classes 9 to 12



The Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) is contemplating the introduction of Open Book Examinations (OBE) for students in classes IX to XII, aligning with the recommendations of the new National Curriculum Framework released last year, as reported by The Indian Express.

Sources indicate that the Board has proposed a pilot run of open-book tests in selected schools, covering English, Math, and Science for classes IX and X, and English, Math, and Biology for classes XI and XII.

This pilot, slated for November-December of this year, aims to assess the time taken by students to complete such tests and gauge stakeholders’ responses. In an open-book exam, students are permitted to use notes, textbooks, or other study materials, shifting the focus from memory recall to understanding, analysis, and application of concepts.

Contrary to the misconception that OBEs are easier, they often present unique challenges as they demand a deeper comprehension of the subject matter. The CBSE pilot intends to evaluate higher-order thinking skills, including application, analysis, critical and creative thinking, and problem-solving abilities.

The Board plans to finalise the design and development of the OBE pilot by June and seeks consultation with Delhi University (DU), which implemented open book tests in August 2020 during the COVID-19 pandemic disruptions. Despite initial opposition and legal challenges, DU’s open book tests continued until March 2022, allowing students to choose between physical and online modes of examination.

To address concerns about potential discrimination against students without Internet access or infrastructure, the CBSE aims to ensure the quality of textbooks supporting this assessment method. The curriculum committee of the Board discussed the necessity of developing high-quality textbooks during deliberations on the OBE proposal late last year.

Some committee members suggested having teachers undergo open book exams themselves to grasp the concept better and assist in creating materials of comparable quality to the advanced placement exam, serving as a benchmark.

The pilot’s success will influence the Board’s decision on whether to extend OBEs across all its schools for classes IX to XII. This shift in assessment methodology aligns with the broader goal of fostering a holistic understanding of subjects and encouraging critical thinking skills among students.

In exploring this innovative approach, the CBSE aims to strike a balance between maintaining academic rigor and adapting to evolving educational needs. The consultation with Delhi University provides valuable insights into the practical implementation of open book exams, drawing from the university’s experiences and addressing challenges raised during its initial adoption.

As the education landscape continues to evolve, initiatives like OBEs reflect a commitment to fostering a more inclusive and adaptable learning environment.

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