Iit (Ab)Normalization: How They Got It Wrong

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Kapil Sibal wanted his stint as HRD minister to be memorable. He wanted to leave behind an enduring legacy. He proposed sweeping changes in the education system.In the nearly three-and-half years he was at the helm, the most effective change he undertook was confined to examinations: The CBSE Class X board examination was made optional. Then, after lengthy deliberations, a single examination for engineering was mooted.Students, who spent their summers taking one entrance test after another, lapped up the idea. By putting the emphasis on the Class XII results, the government wanted to restrict the coaching centres' hold on the system. But there were enough detractors too.States, though supportive, weren't willing to yield ground. Only Gujarat and Nagaland agreed. Haryana and Uttarakhand were already part of the earlier All India Engineering Entrance Examination and went along. The IITs, fearing a drop in quality, weren't keen to be integrated with a larger system. A complicated normalization process was devised to bring all boards on a par. The idea was to factor in Class XII result with JEE (Main) scores for admissions to NITs and central government technical institutes.The IITs still had their say. Only 1.5 lakh of those who cleared JEE (Main) could take JEE (Advanced) for IIT admissions . Of these, only 1.2 lakh finally appeared. A high JEE (Advanced) score wasn't enough for an IIT seat. The extra factor was the stress on the Class XII result. A student had to be in the top 20 percentile of his/her Board result. Instead of a single examination, a complicated two-tier system was created in a rush.



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