CCE and its pitfalls

6 Dec

It is undeniably wise to watch the learning process while it is happening to be able to apply corrective action as we go along. This is the logic that underlies the Continuous Comprehensive Evaluation – a system of assessment that has been gaining support from the examining bodies in India.

Traditionally, the Indian system of assessment has been summative – which means an exam at the end of the teaching cycle. Formative assessment, such as the CCE is about initiating a cycle of short rapid checks during the teaching cycle that inform the learners and teachers (and of course parents) of progress. These assessments are not meant to judge achievement – they are supposed to be designed to identify gaps in learning. The process does not stop there – the learning cycle is driven by these tests and the gaps that have been identified must be plugged via additional support, teaching, peer learning or other activities. The same, along with the next cycle of learning must be tested in the next evaluation.

The CCE process is a fairly time consuming one and demands that each student receives individual feedback. The process does not allow for batch processing – such as exam papers or tests, though they may form part of the CCE cycle if supplemented by individual feedback and corrective action.

In practice, many of our schools do not have the capacity to complete the CCE cycle. The system is in transition from a formative assessment cycle which is a straightforward single (or two) examination with judgment passed kind of process. What you do with the judgment is not the responsibility of the school or teachers. It is this process that has reduced schools to being centres of assessment and not learning. Which, in turn has fostered commercial establishments that support this need to be successful in such assessments. Neither schools nor coaching houses necessarily require true learning to take place.

In that sense the shift to the CCE is a noble thought, and the system of evaluation is in transition and must be allowed chances to self-assess and correct its ways as it learns to support and encourage learning.

The current reality however needs highlighting – as part of the process of watching and assessing the CCE system in practice. Currently, at many schools – there a tendency to use this as a summative tool i.e. set series of tasks at regular intervals, assess them, record the marks and move on to the next task. This clearly is not formative assessment – this is a series of summative assessments as it does not have the key element of reprising gaps in learning and building on strengths identified.

Often, schools have changed nomenclature. Some CCE activities are a part of regular traditional school routines such as classwork and homework, charts on themes of the week, school assemblies, competitions and events. The CCE regulation merely formalizes the scorecard for these. While it is good to receive credit for effort put into ‘extra-curricular’ activities, it has some negative consequences too. We are a competitive people, and when simple class notebooks or the show and tell class project is part of the competition, then teamwork suffers. Now the notebook is the battleground, as much as an exam paper was. The pressure to have the perfect project is higher – we have to get it from a shop – home made projects will not do at all. Consequently, many of us have no idea of the mechanics that went into the project.. we are merely the intermediaries from shop to school.

Teachers complain of being under-resourced for such changes. And it is true that CCE, if implemented properly demands more attention and time than a simple teach-test-mark-record process.

Formative assessments are a powerful tool to support genuine learning across ability ranges. When slow learners get a chance to fill their gaps, and fast learners can extend the range of their learning – then we would have done well by our students. If we are to ensure that we nurture our learners well then we must do this well, or not at all.

This post was published on October 19m 2011 by Times of India here :


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