What do you do when you fall into a trap that you set, even if to fix another problem? Well, that’s what has happened to CBSE. The secondary education board perfected a practice that has been called ‘moderation’, whereby students’ marks in the Class XII exams were artificially inflated—CBSE did this to ensure its students didn’t suffer in college admission since the boards of various states tended to be quite lenient in their marking. Though CBSE recently announced that it will end the practice, since other boards continue with their lenient marking—and, in the case of some, rampant cheating—it is now in a trap.
High marks in state-level boards have ensured that cut-off marks for admission remain high—after all, while CBSE had just under 11 lakh students appearing for the Class XII board exam in 2017 across the country, the UP education board registered over 26 lakh. As a result, cut-offs stand at 100% for some courses in Delhi University’s top colleges—and an impossible 100.75% if you are changing streams. So, CBSE has had to write to Delhi University, requesting a concession for its students in the forthcoming admission season.
The woes of CBSE are explained by game-theory and the Nash Equilibrium. In what can be described as board’s dilemma, even if the best strategy for all the boards is to not consider moderation, unsure of each others’ eventual action in the matter, they will stick to it, leading to an endless cycle of beggar-thy-neighbour.
So, even if all boards agree to junk moderation, if even one falls out of line, others will too. A better solution, in this case, would be to introduce a national common entrance test for universities like the SAT which can, independent of the boards, judge a student’s aptitude in various subjects.