Why common engg entrance bothers IITs
Why common engg entrance bothers IITs
The HRD Ministry’s ambitious proposal to replace multiple engineering entrance examinations including IIT-JEE with a single, common entrance in 2013, with weightage given to school board scores, has become a subject of debate not only between the IITs and the government but also within the IITs.
The directors of the 15 IITs are largely in agreement with the idea of the common entrance exam and percentile-based normalisation of scores across school boards. Faculty federations and senates in most IITs, however, are against it. Only one IIT — Guwahati — has unanimously endorsed the proposal. And the senates have near-vetoed the introduction of the common entrance test in 2013.
Ahead of an IIT Council meeting next week, here are the proposal’s varied aspects and the areas of conflict.
Initially called the Indian Science Engineering Eligibility Test, the Common Entrance Test has been proposed from 2013, replacing the AIEEE and the JEE. Under the proposal, the exam would be of two parts, Main and Advance, each of three hours. Main, which would be objective type, would test students for comprehension, critical thinking and logical reasoning, while Advance would test their problem-solving abilities in the basic science subjects.
A minimum of 40 per cent weightage to Class XII board exam scores has been proposed to determine admission; each state government or institute would be able to decide the specific weight it gives to board, Main and Advance scores. A committee headed by Dr T Ramasami, secretary in the Department of Science & Technology, has demonstrated with the help of the Indian Statistical Institute that school scores across various boards can be normalised through a statistical process.
The HRD Ministry and supporters of this proposal including IIT directors point out that students coming into the IIT system through JEE are now no longer as exceptional and talented as before. Pointing fingers at the coaching lobby, they say students clearing JEE are doing so on the basis of rote learning and with little “raw intelligence”.
This, they argue, is also because students are so focused on their coaching classes that they neglect their school lessons. With a new common entrance exam, they argue, not only will the stress of appearing in multiple entrance exam disappear but school-level teaching and learning will also get back its due attention and, consequently, bring in students with a well-rounded intellect into the IIT system.
The IIT senates across institutes are not convinced that scores across several state boards can be normalised effectively by the statistical methods cited. They refuse to accept the 40 per cent weightage given to school boards.
The senates have instead proposed that the JEE/common entrance exam be converted to a two-stage exam: Main should be used to screen applicants for those who should appear for the JEE test to seek admission into IITs. This JEE test and its nature, they say, must be the sole prerogative of the Joint Admission Board, provided the number of students screened to appear for JEE is small enough. A subjective format should be followed for it, they have insisted.
Normalisation of board scores: Normalisation using percentile approach should be researched further with data available for other boards and 2012 results of all boards.
On 40% weightage: Percentile marks should be used as an eligibility criterion or admission to IITs should be strictly based on JEE. JEE, in turn, should be as decided by JAB. Board marks in percentile form may be used as an eligibility criteria along with the Main paper marks of a common national test.
Main: IITs would like to use the Main results as a screening criterion. However, this process may begin from 2014 and not 2013.
Advance: No, IITs should have their own JEE paper. This paper may be subjective in nature. Eligibility for JEE should be restricted based on Board marks in percentile form and Main marks.
2013: Retain JEE in present form.
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