NCERT’s PARAKH aims to bring parity between CBSE, state board exams by 2026

Board Exams: Parakh will study 10th, 12th board exam question papers from the last 5 years and also the success rates of students in JEE, NEET, CUET.

Board Examinations: PARAKH was set up following NEP 2020 to guide exam reforms in school education (Representational Image: DIET)Board Examinations: PARAKH was set up following NEP 2020 to guide exam reforms in school education (Representational Image: DIET)

Atul Krishna | December 15, 2023 | 10:34 AM IST

NEW DELHI: The independent constituent body under the National Council of Educational Research and Training (NCERT), PARAKH, is working toward bringing “equivalence” between all school boards – state and the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) – in the country by 2026, an NCERT document accessed by Careers360 shows.

A recommendation of the National Education Policy (NEP) 2020 on exam reforms in India, the Performance Assessment, Review and Analysis of Knowledge for Holistic Development or PARAKH was established in February 2023 to advise on school-level evaluation and assessments, including Class 10 and Class 12 board exams. India has 60 school education boards including the Central Board of Secondary Education and the private Council for the Indian School Certificate Examinations (CISCE).

According to the documents accessed by Careers360 through questions filed under the Right to Information Act, PARAKH is working towards developing standard protocols and guidelines for equivalence of school boards across the country by March 2024. This will include recommendations on creating equivalence, making scores awarded in the different board exams comparable.

Board examination equivalence

In March and April, PARAKH conducted a pilot survey across 10 school boards. In November, it submitted a draft report on Equivalence of School Boards to NCERT, which held a deliberation on it on December 7.

It is understood from NCERT documents that the survey involved study of question papers framed by various boards over the last five years as well as representation and performance of students hailing from different boards in the Joint Entrance Examination (JEE Main and JEE Advanced) for engineering; the National Eligibility Cum Entrance Test (NEET UG) for medicine; and the Common University Entrance Test (CUET UG) for college admissions.

Also Read| Board Exam 2024 Live: Classes 10, 12 dates sheets, policies

School education is in the concurrent list of subjects, meaning that the responsibility for this area of governance is shared by the union and state governments. Until recently, state boards and bodies, such as the State Councils of Educational Research and Training (SCERT), decided on the details of syllabus and board exams while following broader central directives on curriculum structure and textbook design.

That started changing with the growing centralisation of admission tests and policies. The national-level exams, conducted by the National Testing Agency (NTA), are widely believed to be based on the NCERT textbooks, followed by the CBSE. The University Grants Commission chairman, M Jagadesh Kumar told The Indian Express in March 2022 that the CUET syllabus would be based on NCERT alone.

While the CBSE itself is a public institution reporting directly to the ministry of education, the vast majority of its affiliated schools are private. The majority of schools affiliated to state boards are usually government schools, teaching some of the poorest students in the country. The difference has led to controversy over the success-rate of state board students in entrance exams, role of private coaching and the wide disparity in standards across state boards. PARAKH is now tasked with closing these gaps.

Class 12: ‘Converge science syllabus’

Data shared by the education ministry in May showed that over 58 lakh Class 10 and Class 12 students didn't progress from their grades across school boards in 2022.

In the report, named Examination Results of Secondary and Higher Secondary Boards, the ministry noted that eight states have separate boards for secondary and higher secondary examinations. It also noted that “there is large deviation in performance” of students between the boards in the same state “due to different patterns and approaches followed by the boards”. Now, some states have started merging secondary and higher secondary (SSC and HSC) boards. In November, the Assam Cabinet approved the merger of the Secondary Education Board of Assam (SEBA) and Assam Higher Secondary Education Council (AHSEC) into a single board.

It had also suggested that state boards “may also like to converge science syllabus with the central boards so that students have a level playing field for common exams like JEE, NEET”. Some states, including Kerala and Karnataka, have already adopted the NCERT books for Classes 11 and 12 science.

The report analysed the school board data as part of efforts towards “standardisation of board exams across states” as mentioned in the National Education Policy (NEP) 2020.

PARAKH: Other standards

The exam and assessment body also aims to “develop and validate” standards of assessment for all school stages and curricular areas.

It also plans to set up standards for vocational education in the secondary stage that are aligned with the existing National Skills Qualifications Framework (NSQF) and is scheduled to develop common norms and guidelines for assessment and evaluation of children with disabilities.

Read Part 2| NCERT’s new exam body, PARAKH, plans AI-based learning, digitised assessments, international consultancy

Read Part 3| PARAKH NCERT: Private, US-based testing agency, ETS, will play major role in exam reforms in India

This is the first of a three-part series on PARAKH, the new body set up by NCERT to guide India’s school examination systems.

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