Having posted something on SAT, here's a story that appeared in the Education section of the Hindu today; the report is by Priscilla Jebaraj and Meera Srinivasan.
The first part is about our board exams; we are told that the Tamil Nadu Board exams have a 40:30:20:10 percent weight for, respectively, knowledge, understanding, application and skill development. [Yes, those faux-precise figures come from an authority figure!] The report goes on to add that the four themes receive equal weights in CBSE and ISC exams; no one is cited for this factoid, however.
In the second part, the story turns to JEE, for which the reporters managed to get some quotable quotes from Prof. M.S. Ananth, Director, IIT-M, and Prof. V.G. Idichandy, also from IIT-M.
Here's the section with Prof. M.S. Ananth's comments:
“I shouldn’t have to examine more than 10 times the number of students who will ultimately get admission,” said IIT-Madras director M.S. Ananth. He feels that the JEE should be used as a selection examination, not merely an elimination examination as it is today.
His suggestion is that the school board examinations be treated as a screening test, with only the top one per cent of students being allowed to attempt JEE. However, Prof. Ananth is quite happy about the efficacy of the JEE paper itself to test students. “I myself have tried the JEE paper. It is beautifully done, no one can set a better one,” he said, rejecting criticism that the paper was not designed to test the aptitude of students. “No one can really test aptitude, although the Americans pretend to do it,” he said.
Then what is to be done about students who ace JEE, but arrive in IIT with little aptitude for engineering studies? Prof. Ananth shares the story of a student who did not know integration. His excuse? “He told us that there are only three marks allotted to integration in JEE.” The IIT-M director feels the fault lies not with the examination itself, but with the coaching system. “With a Rs. 2000-crore coaching industry, there will always be students who can crack a paper without understanding it,” he said.
Prof. V.G. Idichandy, who is also the chairman of a committee set up to "explore JEE reforms," is a lot more blunt:
[Prof. Idichandy] promises recommendations for “drastic reform.” In fact, his personal opinion would be to abolish the JEE and all such entrance examinations. “So long as students are focussed on coaching for entrance exams, school education will not be taken seriously,” he said. Right now, “JEE is not testing aptitude at all. It’s not even a test of knowledge. It just tests the capability of pattern recognition.”