Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Move to scrap IIT-JEE, stress on board marks

NEW DELHI : The IITs and all other engineering schools may soon pick students based more on board examination marks than on entrance test performances, under testing reforms recommended by a panel of IIT directors.

The panel, appointed by Human Resource Development Minister Kapil Sibal, has recommended replacing the four-decade-old IIT-Joint Entrance Examination (JEE) and myriad other engineering entrance examinations with a common test, modelled on the US-based scholastic aptitude test (SAT).

The panel has suggested that the IITs accord a 70 per cent weightage to board examination scores in picking students, in its report to Sibal accessed by The Telegraph through top panel sources.

Scores in the common aptitude test that will replace the IIT-JEE will contribute the remaining 30 per cent weightage in determining which candidates are selected, the panel has recommended.

Unlike the current engineering entrance examinations, including the IIT-JEE, the common aptitude test will not have questions on Physics, Chemistry and Math, but will test students’ powers of logical reasoning and communication skills.

If the recommendations are accepted, the IITs will, for the first time, admit students based more on their board examination marks than on their performance in a special entrance test.

The proposed reforms will also be the most wide-reaching changes to India’s undergraduate engineering admission procedure in decades. Over two million students appear for different undergraduate engineering entrance examinations every year. Over 4.5 lakh appeared for Sunday’s IIT-JEE alone.

Officials in the HRD Ministry refused to comment on the report’s contents. But top sources confirmed that Sibal, currently touring New Zealand, has asked his officials to study the report in detail so the ministry can discuss it after he returns on April 15.

The minister had announced in February that he was setting up a panel under IIT Kharagpur director Damodar Acharya to study proposed reforms to the IIT-JEE. The panel was appointed in March, with the directors of the IITs in Mumbai, Roorkee and Chennai as the other members.

Although the panel was originally intended to propose reforms only for the IIT-JEE, its recommendations, if accepted, will also mean the end of the All India Engineering Entrance Examination and all state-specific common entrance tests.

The new common aptitude test will help admit students to all undergraduate engineering institutions in India, whether run by the Centre, state governments or private managements.

The recommendations indicate that institutions other than the IITs will also be required to give 70 per cent weightage to board examination marks, but do not specifically say so.

The panel has recommended that the government develop a Comprehensive Weighted Performance Index (CWPI) to calculate a student’s overall score based cumulatively on his performance in the board examinations and in the common aptitude test. The report appears principally based on discussions at a meeting held with other government representatives, including Central Board of Secondary Education chairman Vineet Joshi and select state representatives in Chennai on March 16.

The HRD ministry is already working towards a plan to introduce a common high school curriculum in the sciences and math, cutting across the 35 boards — central and state — that govern Indian school education.

The common curriculum would make easier a comparison between the board examination scores of students from schools affiliated to different central and state government boards, Joshi had told the meeting.

The CWPI proposed by the panel is aimed at normalising any differences that remain between difficulty levels of school-leaving examinations under different boards. (Courtesy : The Telegraph)

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