Do marks matter outside the classroom?

[A principal of a Singaporean school recently caught the Internet’s attention when he wrote a viral letter on Reddit. He appealed to parents that it was okay if their child didn’t score well.]

In the age of education 2.0. the calibre of students can be measured in different ways.

Pink Floyd sarcastically labelled students as ‘bricks in the wall’ and brought to attention an oppressive education system with the song Another Brick in The Wall in 1979. Matt Damon as 20-year-old janitor Will Hunting slowly uncovered his extraordinary abilities in Mathematics and Chemistry after a MIT professor chanced upon his innate skills in 1997’s Good Will Hunting. Apart from expanding the popular ‘100 crore club’ in Bollywood with his 2009 release 3 Idiots, Aamir Khan also sent out a strong message, i.e. to pursue excellence and watch success follow. All these pop culture references certainly provide food for thought – how much do grades really matter outside of the school?

A reformed assessment system

India’s Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) announced a change in the assessment pattern for the Board examinations in 2016. Instead of focussing on end-of-term tests and rigorous annual examinations, the CBSE system is evolving towards continuous student evaluations throughout the year. To this end, it has introduced the Continuous and Comprehensive Evaluation (CCE) system.

This, in turn, has meant a change in the grading style. The traditional system dictated a grading system that evaluated students based on speci c marks earned and not on a grading scale. As per the CCE system, marks are to be converted into grades to reflect on the final report card. In addition to their grades, the Cumulative Grade Point Average (CGPA) is also calculated and reflected in the final mark sheet.

“The CBSE chose the new assessment pattern to benefit students, however, it’s only making it hard to get into our preferred subject streams for Grade 11,” says Maria Luke, Grade 10 student, The Indian High School, Dubai.

“Marks do matter, but only to a certain extent. Our entire education system judges students on grades, and I disagree with that. Pushing students into a completely new and definitely harder system has affected stream selections for numerous tenth graders for whom marks matter the most right now. Marks shouldn’t restrict someone from pursuing their passion,” another tenth grader from The Indian High School agrees.

A strict cut off criteria

In 2015, Delhi University’s College of Vocational Studies and Indraprastha College for Women required a 100 per cent overall grade report for admission in their undergraduate courses. This reportedly led to a decline in admissions to the colleges.

De-emphasising grades

A principal of a Singaporean school recently caught the Internet’s attention when he wrote a viral letter on Reddit. He appealed to parents that it was okay if their child didn’t score well. He further wrote that among the children giving their exams, ‘there would be an artist, who wouldn’t need to understand Math; an entrepreneur, who wouldn’t care about History or English literature; and a musician, whose marks in the Chemistry paper won’t matter.’

“I worked hard to attain good grades and I realised it’s because schools placed (and still place) a lot of emphasis to attain distinction. Therefore, students imbibe the same notion. A well-rounded learner is not after a grade. Use classroom lessons as a guide for ethical decision-making that can make a difference in life. As a former academician and currently working in the eld of global learning, I’ve seen that students tend to learn and excel in different ways than a conventional measured test,” adds Megna Kalvani, senior manager, Global Learning and Student Life, SP Jain University, Dubai.

Achievements after school

“I think the education system started with good intentions to rank a person’s individual merit. I’ve been a student of different education curriculums, and I’d say that regardless of the system, a focus solely on grades can translate negatively and work against a student who may want to pursue a career in a specific field. When admissions are only eligible for a subject based on marks, they get restricted with the career they can pursue. Today, I can attest that grades don’t matter as long as you’re good at what you do and your work speaks for itself. You’ll find good opportunities eventually. Grades are, after all, subjective opinions,” says Kevin Sebastian, editor, PC Magazine.

“Good grades don’t necessarily guarantee a good career, and grades are definitely no barometer of a student’s calibre. In my opinion, there is no correlation between grades, efforts and quality of life,” adds Joseph Khiyalie, Director of Education, Motley Education.

Monica Manoj, Computer Science Engineering student, Manipal University Dubai, adds, “We are living in a world that is quickly headed in the direction of education 2.0. In this new age of education, it is not high grades that motivate students. It is the perfect blend of awe and curiosity that drives us. The criteria for being accepted at any institution is now decided by your soft skills and real-world capabilities.”

When celebrities inspire

Generally known to send their online and offline audience into splits of laughter, popular YouTube group All India Bakchod shared their most memorable exam stories and encouraged students to ‘be curious and learn to not fear the results’ in the On Air with AIB podcast earlier this year. Additionally, comedian Vir Das used YouTube as a platform to ask students who were sitting for the board exams to ‘forget about marks and listen to the voice in their head’.

Delhi University Times, a portal of Delhi University, recently shared Shah Rukh Khan’s Hans Raj College admission form. The actor’s low English scores became the talk of the Internet in no time. The portal reportedly claimed that they deliberately shared the form to get students to under- stand that ‘marks don’t matter if they’re hardworking and know their aim in life.’

The stress is real

Even though there may be no co-re- lation between grades and success in life, the stress to achieve better grades is de nitely real.

As per figures released by Childline, a UK-based counselling service for people upto 19 years of age, 1,133 counselling sessions were offered to students to tackle exam stress during 2016-2017 alone. The question is – How much do your marks matter to you?

Source: Khaleej Times