SLC : Letter grading chaos

There are nine different ranges in GPA from A to E that describe the marks — from outstanding to very insufficient where the equivalent score in percentage is from 100 per cent to below 20 per cent.

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The Government introduced the letter grading system in the School Leaving Certificate ( SLC) examinations from this year. “ Letter grading system has been used to get standardisation in SLC certificate where no one fails,” explained Gehanath Gautam, Deputy Director at Curriculum Development Centre, Sanothimi.

There are nine different ranges in GPA from A to E that describe the marks — from outstanding to very insufficient where the equivalent score in percentage is from 100 per cent to below 20 per cent.

But once the SLC results were published, this system started creating confusion among the students, guardians and colleges. Despite the claim that no one fails in SLC exams in the letter grading system, not all students can study the subjects that they want to. One has to get the minimum Grade Point Average ( GPA), as required in a particular subject to be eligible to study that course.“ There are options for students to study courses as per the grade they secure.If they want to upgrade themselves to be eligible to study the subjects in which they haven’t secured desired grade, they can sit for the chance exam,” Gautam added.

However, Mahesh Aryal, Programme Director at Whitefield HSS/ International College, Nayabazar blamed the grading system for limiting the subjects for students. “ It has victimised the students and has crippled them by setting criteria to choose subjects according to the grades.” Twelve different categories have been introduced by the Higher Secondary Education Board ( HSEB), and students need to choose the categories as per their grades. For example, to study Physics, Chemistry, Biology, Mathematics, Computer Science, and Agriculture under the Science stream, one must have minimum GPA point 2, C in Science and Mathematics, C in English, and D in Social Studies and Nepali. Such a division is confusing and not practical, as per Aryal who shared, “ One of our students not being good in English became the college topper in the Science stream.” Giving an example of a student who came to enrol in the Science stream, Aryal elaborated, “ That student had scored the required minimum GPA point 2, but because he had D in English, E in Maths, C in Science, B in Social studies and C in Nepali, he won’t be able to enrol in the Science stream.” Though students can sit for chance exams to upgrade their grades, it is not of much help as per Aryal. “ They can sit for chance exams of two subjects only. But this student needs to increase his grade in three subjects.

So, the new system is not justifiable for students as they are forced to choose subjects as per their grades, instead of choosing subjects of their interest.” Agreeing with him, Raju Maharjan Founder/ Principal of New Zenith English Model School, Link Road, Nayabazar, added, “ HSEB shouldn’t set any categories as it affects the students’ desire to study a certain subject.” When Gautam was asked about the underlying problems of letter grading system, he clarified, “ The GPA obtained by a student can’t be converted into specific percentage as letter grading system is all about motivating students to study those subjects in which they are good at. It aims to discourage unhealthy competition while letting students have a certificate without a fail mark, that used to be discouraging for the students in number system.” What about the chance exams of two subjects only? Gautam explained, “ This is just the beginning phase of the system and this year the students will be able to sit for chance exams only in two subjects. In future students might be able to sit for the chance exams as per their requirements.” Over 16,000 SLC graduates got A this year, but even these students are entangled in some kind of confusion.

Recent SLC graduates Subekshya Kafle ( Mount Glory Higher Secondary School), Bindu Karki ( Vidyodaya English Secondary School), and Dibya Joshi ( New Zenith English Model School) needn’t to worry about the subjects they want to study as all of them secured A. But they are worried whether they would get scholarship in Class XI or not.

“ As there are over 16,000 students who got A, I don’t think everyone can get scholarship. Now it all depends upon our own performance rather than the scores,” Kafle said.

Colleges are counselling the students and parents about the letter grading system where Aryal added, “ This system might increase literacy rate in the country but it won’t help produce skilled manpower.”

source: the himalayan times, 22 june 2016

2016-06-22 | EducateNepal

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