The open-book format is a hit though the actual process is not quite what it says on the tin. These exams-meant for students of Classes 9 and 11 at schools affiliated to the Central Board of Secondary Education-are less about hunting for answers in a book you're allowed to carry in and are more application-based than any "summative exam" students have taken before.
Though praised for altering the approach to learning and evaluation, significantly, it has prompted schools to run orientation programmes for teachers, students, and even parents. The board released the material on which the March 2014 exams will be based early in October.
"Teachers are attending the series of workshops being conducted by CBSE and we are also holding orientations internally," says Ameeta Mulla Wattal, principal, Springdales School (Pusa Road) and chairperson, National Progressive School Conference. "It allows the child to think differently. However, teachers have to be oriented to teaching this way," she says.
"It should not be called 'open-book' but a 'pre-announced' test. A case is given and questions are related to that context created. The idea is, instead of finding an answer, apply your knowledge to solve a problem," says Ashok Pandey, principal, Ahlcon International School, Mayur Vihar. The material for Class IX, for instance, has two cases-"planning a garden" and "adventure camp"-and will cover coordinate geometry, linear equations, perimeter, area and volume. "The main issue here is assessment," he explains, "We are training our teachers to change their methods."
"We are going to explain the changes to teachers, students and their parents," says Usha Ram, principal Laxman Public School, "It is a change in approach but there shouldn't be a problem."