Spiking of marks in 10th and 12 class board exams is likely to stop from next year. However, school boards will continue with a moderation policy to remove ambiguity and difficulty level in different question sets and offer a level playing field in the evaluation process.

Mark sheets of students will mention whether they have been awarded grace marks.

These recommendations have been made by the inter-board working group headed by the CBSE’s outgoing chairman RK Chaturvedi. The inter-board working group has members from Gujarat, Jammu and Kashmir, Kerala, Telangana, Chattisgarh, Manipur and ICSE boards.

A decision was taken regarding this in a meeting on August 28. The recommendations will now be sent to the Union HRD ministry for adoption by various states. The group was formed to look into the issues related to the moderation policy.

To ensure uniformity in the question papers of various boards, the group also decided that the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) will develop model sample question papers that will be circulated to all the boards.

“The sample question papers will help states decide how many questions should be difficult, how many should be easy and what type of questions should be used. Depending on the state’s requirement they will use the sample questions to develop their own. This will bring in greater uniformity in the evaluation system,” said one of the members of the group.

There was consensus amongst all the members to do away with spiking of marks as it is not a true reflection of a student’s performance.

“In the meeting it was decided that all the decisions taken earlier during April related to moderation are accepted by all the working group members. The recommendations are being sent to the Human Resource Development (HRD) ministry. These recommendations have to be unanimously accepted by all the state boards in the country. For this purpose, MHRD has to play a proactive role,” said a source.

The group has also suggested that moderation will continue to ensure appropriate compensation is provided to students in case there are differences in the difficulty levels of question papers and overall evaluation process.

However, state boards will have to post their moderation policy on their websites in a transparent manner. Sources further said that grace marks will continue and though the mark sheet will specify if a student has passed due to grace marks, it will not mention the extra marks awarded to him or her.

Grace marks are given in cases where a student narrowly misses the passing mark. “Students who pass without grace marks will at least get some priority through this. At the same time rather than failing a student who narrowly misses the marks such students will also be passed,” said one of the members of the group.

The moderation policy allows board to give students extra marks. But some state boards used the system to increase marks of their students, spiking the overall pass percentage and thereby triggering widespread resentment. It was also decided that the qualifying marks will be 33 out 100 as some states follow different passing marks such as 38, 40 among others. This is also being done to bring standardization in the process.

In the moderation policy of the CBSE there is a clause which allows the board to maintain “a near parity of pass percentage of candidates in the current year vis-a-vis preceding years, subject-wise and overall”. Sources said this, at times, leads to inflation of marks, which is not a true reflection of a student’s performance. The practice is followed by a number of other boards including Tamil Nadu. States such as Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Maharashtra and Bihar do not have a moderation policy. But others, including Goa, Tamil Nadu and Uttarakhand, use the policy to improve their pass percentage.

It has also been decided that CBSE will use only one set of questions rather than three which it currently uses. Currently, there is an All India set, one for Delhi and another used in other countries.

In CBSE, moderation is done till overall marks reach 95 in each subject. The benefit of moderation is not given to students who score 95 and above.

The CBSE had earlier decided to scrap the moderation policy to “remove arbitrariness and inflation of marks,” but a Delhi High Court had directed that the moderation policy be applied for this academic session. Following this, the board took a decision not to make any changes to its moderation policy this year. Over 18,000 schools across the country are affiliated to the CBSE.