Guest Post – India’s grade inflation crisis is actually a grade distortion crisis

Good friend Prabhat Singh sends me a post on an issue he thinks deeply about:  grade inflation. He says it is not inflation but distortion. Thanks Prabhat for the timely post on a very important matter yet just laughed off. These are the kind of social institutions which once distorted create trouble across the society and cannot even be rectified quickly.

Over to Prabhat..


Few are aware of the sheer fraud and illegality peddled in the name of board exams in India. This includes not just the usual suspects – UP and Bihar board – but even the nationally respected CBSE and ISC board. The 30 marks reserved for the practical exam is a mere formality to let the students pass. Worse, in the name of moderation, everyone who gets between 79 and 94 is allotted 95 marks. This isn’t speculation, but based on data analysis carried out by a friend and I, published below. Our analysis confirms that nearly board exams in India are statistically invalid. The article also contains interviews with insiders placed high up in the ICSE and CBSE boards, and bring out shocking truths about the inadequacies of the marking system.

Marks inflation is the direct result of competition among boards. Unfortunately, prestigious universities such as DU make no distinction between two boards and marks allotted by them are taken at face value, which provides boards with perverse incentives. For instance, a disproportionate share of students admitted to SRCC last year were from Tamil Nadu board. It’s for the same reason that BITS-Pilani and several other colleges shifted to their own exams instead of relying on board exam marks. It is also amusing to see the see-sawing in pass percentages of state boards, with change in state government. UP board’s pass percentage has swung between as low as 14 and as high as 80, depending on the government in power. Needless to say, there are forces far beyond merit of students and difficulty of exam paper at play.

It is a welcome sign that the issue of marks inflation has finally reached the higher judiciary. Although Delhi HC ruled against CBSE’s decision to abandon this system, hopefully this folly will be corrected soon and all boards will be brought to account. It is also critical that the court educate itself about the system of education of boards before reaching a hasty decision. Pending this major correction, the very future of our nation is in dire straits.

More here:

3 Responses to “Guest Post – India’s grade inflation crisis is actually a grade distortion crisis”

  1. vikramml Says:

    Can you please call it grade inflation and not inflation grade (the firstpost article phrases it correctly). For a while, I was wondering that the article was about price inflation, and was wondering what the heck inflation grade was all about!

  2. vikramml Says:

    There’s also the grade suppression crisis. In 2011-12, there was a PISA survey of 74 countries to compare primary education levels. India ranked 73 out of 74 countries, even though the states chosen were Himachal and Tamil Nadu, which should have been comparatively better. What was the solution? India has refused to participate in all future surveys since then. Problem solved!

    Well, we should be proud that at least we were ahead of Kyrgyzstan.

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