West Bengal: 96% not enough for CBSE, ISC students’ college dreams – Times of India

At Surendranath College, no student with a score below 474 out of 500 figured in the first list for economics honours

An ISC student with 96.4% realised at the 11th hour that he wouldn’t get into Scottish Church College, as the first 22 students (all from HS) had a perfect 400/400

An ISC student with 92% aggregate was forced to apply for zoology in a second-rung college after his first choice — microbiology — did not click in several colleges under CU

Forget premier institutes, the formula adopted by West Bengal Council for Higher Secondary Education (WBCHSE), for awarding marks to students in which exams could not be conducted, has all but robbed all hopes of students from other boards — mainly CBSE and ISC — of finding a toehold at even second-tier colleges in Kolkata.

HS students could not be tested on several subjects this year because of the pandemic. To arrive at a completed mark sheet, the HS council had taken the highest mark obtained by an examinee in the papers s/he had taken, and awarded that as the score in the papers s/he could not take.

Since the methodology to arrive at ‘complete mark sheets’ adopted by different boards were non-standardised, ISC and CBSE students have been severely disadvantaged, reported by TOI on Wednesday.

In the first list released by Lady Brabourne College, the lowest marks in chemistry honours in the first list is 99.8%. In English honours, the last candidate on the list had a score of 98.4%. At Lady Brabourne, the 15th and last-ranked candidate in the general category had a score of 99.8%.

Several ISC and CBSE students with high scores, who had initially set their sights on the more prestigious institutes, found out at the last moment that it would be impossible. An ISC student who had an aggregate of 96.4% — with 97 each in physics, chemistry and biology — had thought he would surely get to study statistics or maths at Presidency University, St Xavier’s College, Maulana Azad College, Scottish Church College or Asutosh College. As a last resort, he had applied at Bidhannagar College. But when Scottish Church released the first list, his family panicked. With hundreds of students securing full marks, his dream of getting into a good college was over.

“His name did not feature on five merit lists, in spite of high marks,” the boy’s mother said. Desperate, the student applied to Seth Anandaram Jaipuria College and Vidyasagar College hours before the deadline for submitting applications was over. “Neither college had statistics honours, so my son has taken up mathematics honours at Jaipuria, where his name featured on the third list,” she said.

Another ISC student, keen on physics honours, is yet to get a seat in any of the colleges he had initially hoped to study in. With scores of 92 in physics, 95 in chemistry and 96 in mathematics, he realised he didn’t stand a chance against HS students who had got either 100 or 99 in all subjects. His father questioned the logic of different boards being allowed to independently formulate their marks-awarding methodologies, which has plunged the lives of so many students from other boards into uncertainty.

“There is one board, the WBCHSE, that has given the highest marks obtained by a student in the subjects that s/he has appeared in subjects in which exams were not held. That has led to a distortion, with students who sat in the least number of subjects benefiting with the highest marks if they did well in one of the papers they had attempted. On the other hand, there is CISCE, that devised a complex formula that would best evaluate a student by taking into account the marks obtained in practicals to undertake a realistic assessment. This has landed its students in a soup,” he said, reflecting the sentiments of several thousand parents now spending sleepless nights.

The situation is similarly grim for CBSE students. One such student, with a 93% aggregate, is not on the merit list of any college. “I don’t know whether my son will at all get to study in a college in Kolkata, or has to now travel outside for undergraduate studies. Liberal marking by WBCHSE has deprived so many good students,” his father said. Parents of another CBSE student, who, even with a 95% aggregate, did not find her name on any merit list, are thinking of sending her to Delhi to pursue a subject of her choice.

Nabarun De, principal of Central Modern School, affiliated to the CISCE, said he has been receiving regular updates from students who are yet to find a college seat. “This is an unprecedented year. Many students who aspired to take JEE and NEET are giving it a miss. Also, many who had planned to migrate to another city or university have suspended their plans due to the pandemic. This has resulted in a severe seat crunch in Kolkata’s colleges,” he said.

Another principal added that the formula adopted by CISCE was much more methodical and balanced. “Who knew the state government would approve a policy that’s unscientific and biased to allow an edge for state board students,” he said.

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