[The views expressed in this article are my personal opinions. These views may not be same as that of Eduflix]
Just few days back, we had announcements floating in the newspapers about Governments decision to go ahead with scrapping IIT JEE and introducing a new exam called ISEET (Read: ISEET to replace IIT JEE and AIEEE). Surprisingly, there were no follow ups to this news item. This has added more to the confusion of students specially who are planning to appear for IIT JEE or AIEEE in 2013. Should one prepare for JEE or ISEET? With clues from the news articles, it also seems that the pattern of ISEET is going to be very different from JEE. ISEET will have comprehension, logical reasoning and critical thinking as part of the test process. In addition, now 12th board marks will have at least 40% weightage for the entrance.
I find it hard to fathom the reason for this decision. It is too early to say whether it is going to be a right decisions or wrong decision but let us try to look at various aspects revolving around it based on the current facts -
1. Would scrapping of IIT JEE reduce stress among students? If IIT JEE or AIEEE causes stress in students, wouldn’t ISEET also cause stress among students? In fact, with addition of new variables in the test [ISEET Main will test comprehension, logical reasoning and critical thinking], my guess is that ISEET is going to be even more stressful.
2. Would it end the coaching culture that has sprung in recent years? Hardly so. Because coaching classes are businesses built to serve the unmet need. They will keep coming or transform themselves – how does it matter whether it is IIT JEE or ISEET? Today they have developed competencies in preparing students for IIT JEE. Once they know the kind of questions asked in ISEET, they will adapt themselves accordingly.
3. Would it reduce the achievement gap between Metros and non-metros or rural and urban areas or rich and poor? If I take the sample space of my batch in IIT – majority of these were from middle class or lower middle class families coming from tier-2 or tier 3 towns [although I do not have hard data to support this]. This roughly also means that JEE actually reduced the achievement gap by bringing people up from economically weaker backgrounds.
4. Extending the point 3 further – In fact I think that introducing ISEET is further going to enhance the economic gap. With introduction of comprehension etc, students going to non-english medium schools will certainly be at disadvantage. And with inclusion of 12th board marks, students going to not-so-good schools will be at disadvantage. In IIT JEE era, they had to just bear with three subjects – Physics, Chemistry and Mathematics. Lack of good teachers is going to hurt more to these disadvantageous kids. For example – one 11th grader student (and Eduflix subscriber) from tier-3 city secured 99 percent in PCM in 10th exam [all by self-study, let truth be told - her school teachers suck]. But she obtained just 70/100 in English. She cannot even speak fluently in English. How is she going to compete with an another kid in Metro going in one of the best schools of India? Eduflix (and organizations like us) will try to help, but that cannot be an excuse to introduce new problems.
5. How are you going to normalize the marks across boards? There are 24 Education Boards in India (Source). As far as I know they are completely independent except that the course structure is advised by NCERT. Exams are different and so are the complexity levels for these exams. There were suggestions from decision-making body that normalizing marks across board can be done using statistical models. Oh well, these statistical models have been used “successfully” in the past in weather reports, financial models and social sciences – and going by their success rates I have zilch confidence in them. And please note, this is about future career of millions of students. By a small error in your model, thousands of students can get affected.
So if not these, what is the reason for introducing this new confusion among students and adding to their stress? Why change things that have been working perfectly fine for so many years? Why not solve real problems that are facing our country (Hint: Primary Education)?