Open Text Based Assessment (OTBA)

The CBSE (Central Board of Secondary Education) is all set to introduce an 'Open Text Based Assessment (OTBA)' section in the final exams for class 9, 10 and 11 from the current academic year. The change also includes Class 12 but shall be brought into practice only from next year onwards i.e. 2014-15.

This mode of assessment will be applicable to all subjects for Class 9 students and economics, biology and geography in Class 11 in the March 2014 summative assessment 2 or annual exam. The textual material, which could be an article, case study, diagram, problem or situation, will be related to concepts from the syllabus. It will be given to students in December so that they have time to discuss it.

Open Book doesn't mean that students will be allowed to carry books into the examination hall. Instead, students will be given case studies in each subject four months in advance. And the examination shall contain all questions from the given material. Moreover, this section will also carry weightage of about 20%.

"multiple modes of assessment need to be provided to cater to the varied abilities of individual strengths of learner. These are meant to incorporate analytical and theoretical skills, thus moving away from memorization". All subjects of Std IX and three of Std XI will be part of OTBA. The board had earlier planned to start this concept for Std X and XII but it seems the change has been made with a view to test the waters.

OTBA will comprise 15%-20% of the total marks and may also include value-based questions, which is already part of the current set up. Since Std IX comes under the Continuous and Comprehensive Evaluation Scheme, the March OTBA will be part of Summative Assessment-II (SA-II).

A textual material may be in the form of an article, a case study, a diagram, a concept/mind map, a picture or a cartoon, problem/situation based on the concepts taught to be students during second term. OTBA will have questions of higher order thinking skills some of which may be subjective, creative and open ended

For Std XI, the OTBA will be applicable only to economics, biology and geography. This will be part of the final exam in March.

CBSE advised schools to mark the answer sheets based on four criterion. First is the student's understanding and application of the concepts to the situational problems, second being ability to suggest and bring out the appropriate solutions to the problem, third is the ability to come up with innovative opinions and fourth the ability to deeply analyze, based on a wide range of perspectives. More details are expected to be given to schools by December.

What is the Open Text Based Assessment (OTBA) and how will it work?

OTBA works on the "open book exam" system prevalent in many western countries. It permits students to carry material into the exam hall from which questions have been set.

OTBA does not dilute the exam as questions are not direct, but require understanding of topic's concept.

OTBA will be applicable to Std IX and Std XI students from March 2014. It will account for maximum 20% of the total marks.

Scheme of the Open Book Exam :

1. CBSE Open Book Exam would be entirely case study-based.
2. This section will carry 20% weight age.
3. Based on the ideas and concepts taught to the students during the school academic session, the textual material will be in the form of an article or a case Study or a diagram or a picture or a cartoon or a problem/situation.
4. The CBSE Board will prepare the question paper, and the same material will be supplied to students at the time of examination along with answer books and question paper. The students are required to find the answer using the material supplied and thereby their studying at home for that part is eliminated.
5. For Class 9 students : Open Book Exam applies to all main subjects
6. For Class 11 students : Open Book Exam applies only to Economics, Biology Geography and a language
7. The Open Book Exam is designed to test the "higher order thinking skills of students rather than their current dependence on a rote-based methodology," according to CBSE.
8. The Open Book Exam will be part of the Summative Assessment II for Class 9 and also for those students who choose a school-based class 10 exams under the CCE scheme instead of the board exams.
9. Questions would be set in such a pattern that students may not find direct answers to them in their textbooks. The questions would instead test one's understanding and capacity to analyse/evaluate/compare concepts thereby training one's mind to seek information when one needs it,
10. CBSE terms this concept as pre-announced test (PAT) wherein case Studies related to the subjects are supplied to the students four months prior to the examination. 11. CBSE hereby ushers in a new change in the testing pattern employed in schools.

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