When A is for Average – Grade inflation a key problem in college admissions
The month of June of the Indian calendar doesn’t only indicate the dying summer but dying hopes of millions of students too. This time of the year, for some, opens the doorway to their dreams, while closes for many.
The much coveted St Stephen’s College has just published its so-called ‘cutoffs’, the minimum school graduation marks that will admit a student to a programme of study. Score of 99% would welcome one to English Honours, while 98% to Economics Honours. To get into Economics Honours at rival Hindu College will require a 98% average. Such near-to-century cut-offs pierces the dreams-adorned hearts of countless.
These cutoffs are obviously ridiculous. But is it the college whom we’re supposed to finger on? Or with the public examination boards, led by the central and state government boards? You would agree that the fault lies with the latter. These examination boards are so unprofessionally run and do not have the courage to enforce stricter standards, because they have notoriously removed any serious assessment role, student marks continue to rise.
Over inflation in school grades – When A is for AVERAGE!
Talk to any random 10+2 student and ask about their scores, most of the lips would utter 90%+ because affording a 90% today is like affording a ‘nano-car’ – the masses car! When the average score ballparks at 90%, what else can any top college come up with?
If these Board of examinations do not devise stringent standards pertaining to answer-sheet-correction, such grade inflation would keep shooting whammy on students. The day is not far off when we may get to see a perfect 100 cutoff for the popular courses at colleges like the Stephens.
To change all of this, we have to start at the grassroots – Discipline must be drilled into the heads of examining teachers; stricter examining terms should be enforced; essay checking should accounts for negative marking on grammatical errors and dull language; emphasis on more practical learning by way of outdoor tours, labs etc. rather than bookish learning – the day such minor changes are made, that would be a great milestone in the Indian education system.
Lack of good colleges and over increasing competition
The other, even more daunting task is the lack of good colleges and universities and the ever increasing numbers of young/talented men and women in search of quality higher education. A country like India should have at least 1000 St Stephen’s Colleges and Hindu Colleges. As the country tries to raise its gross enrolment ratio for higher education beyond 20%, it desperately needs top-rate institutions.
The question is where premier colleges are to come from. The government is incapable of producing them, the private sector cannot buy enough land on which to build them. Private investors fear government interference in everything – in admissions, curriculum, fees, faculty recruitment, disciplinary actions, and hiring-and-firing. As a result, they won’t put money on the table, at least not for quality education.
How can one ‘Stephen’, one ‘Hindu’ and one ‘Shriram’ suffice in the country with such elephantine population? Food for thought it is. Government has to do something about it.
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Here’s what the twitterati had to say about this hyperinflation in college cutoffs:
Damn! Even my body temperature missed the St. Stephens admission cut off.
— Vir Das (@thevirdas) June 17, 2015
99% sure St.Stephen wouldn’t have cleared the cut-off in his own college. #StStephenscollege
— Sayantan Ghosh (@sayantansunnyg) June 18, 2015
— Scanner (@dr_harnish) June 18, 2015
If cut off marks is 99%, it tells you how worthless board exam has become. Someone’s got to fix this run away inflation. #StStephenscollege
— #ValarMorghulis (@cbcnn_Pilid) June 17, 2015