Few of my students who have recently appeared grade XII board examination wrote to me that the ship of their future is on the verge of wreckage after the catastrophic news of a leaked paper. They were worried for 2 reasons:
To REDO exam and to OMIT redo.
To REDO exam and to OMIT redo.
I shared their concern equally.
Unlike any other profession, for teachers, the achievement of our student is akin to an ornament of pride that we wear on almost every occasions. The speed at which they pass through the friction of interviews and get into a job is another that determines the homeostatic state of our psychic happiness. But none of these are likely unless they make a good hop over the bar of grade 12 board exam. Thus, the broadcast of leaked English paper II mentally put me together with them in the same ship of trepidation.
The leakage of an examination paper is never a new phenomenon. Though negligible in frequency, records reveal the occurrence of such academic misfortunes in the past as well. Such episodes of educational miscarriage particularly that of public board exam tarnishes the mood of applause and appreciations from the society. In general, in an education system that determines the performance of learners largely through summative evaluation, such calamity will further question the credibility and integrity of the examination niche.
In its reaction, the Bhutan Council for School Examination and Assessment (BCSEA) through print and media, declared to put the evaluation of a leaked paper in the shelf. Their verdict of stand, as reports say, were on the basis that it shares a correlation with the marks of English paper I.
And today, the same board has revoked its earlier decision after huge public outcry in the social media and hence decided to move with a palatable solution of evaluating it and omit redo.
Through the lens of statistics, I personally felt that it was a wise move provided they have already sketched a plan to make a statistical comparisons after the evaluation with the marks of students who grabbed the leak paper and who did not. That analysis can be a reliable armor for them to conclude either to redo or not to since the interpretation will be based on the outcome of same participants. The previous claim of having 0.60 correlation between the marks of English paper I and II and therefore, shunning both evaluation and redo of exam is comparatively a laymen defense for 3 reasons.
1. It reveals only a moderate range of correlation on the basis of correlation interpretation by Pett, Lackey & Sullivan (2003). On an extreme statistical scrutiny, values of such range are usually considered not very strong to generalize for the study. [Correlation range: 0.00-0.29 Weak; 0.30-0.49 Low; 0.50-0.60 Moderate; 0.70-0.89 Strong; 0.90-1.00 Very Strong. (Pett, Lackey & Sullivan, 2003)]
2. If the figure of 0.60 correlation is accepted as big enough to stop evaluation and redo exam, then the remaining 0.40 difference is not too small to be unconsidered for the same. If it is to be strictly based on statistics, even a vary of 0.001 is too big to defend from the statistical point of view.
3. Based on this mere figure of a correlation obtained from the results of past participants of the year unknown, it has been both statistically and almost educationally unjust to generalize the implications on the present group of students.
However, the resolution passed by the BCSEA to evaluate the paper is a welcome move. Although it may not equate fairness and justice, it sounds more palatable and healthier. Even by redoing exam, it can still be unfair based on my limited pedagogic experiences. But one thing is certain. It can offer the board to define a clear path for what next, how and why. It will let the officials concerned to think out of the box and hunt for recipes to stop repeating such history in the near future. And eventually, the students in general can still experience the weather of best holiday mood at their respective homes and for time being can escape from that disturbing wind of redo or omit redo.
“If you can solve the problem, then what is the need of worrying? If you cannot solve it, then what is the use of worrying?” - Śāntideva