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CBSE Using Digital Technology For Level Playing Field in Exams

The official also debunked reports that the Board is conducting exams early this year due to general election, saying it's "completely wrong" and that early exams have nothing to do with the elections

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The Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) has been using digital technology to create as much of a level playing field as possible for students who feel unduly penalised by a disproportionately difficult question paper or a stray ambiguous question, a senior official said.

The official said that the Board started using the Theory Evaluation Trend Analysis (TETRA) software – written by its own team – last year for studying the trend of marks being obtained by the students across the regions.

The software displays the live trend of average marks scored across the centres and can be used for moderation of marks in case there’s an unfair degree of ambiguity or difficulty in the question paper.

“We analyse the trend of marks being obtained by students across the regions and centres. Whenever we spot any deviation from the norm, we call up that centre and probe if there were complaints about the question paper,” a senior CBSE official told on condition of anonymity.

“We look for complaints regarding any ambiguity or difficulty in the question paper. A team then sees if and how much moderation is needed to account for these difficulties,” the official added.

Asked about previously instances of some boards spiking marks, the official emphasised that the Board has never happened as it was “unethical” and quite different from moderation, “which is done by boards across the world” and is a just way of compensating students”.

CBSE
CBSE logo.

Another official insisted that moderation is not a matter of policy for the Board and is done only when needed under pressing circumstances. This official likened the software with “CCTV camera” with the help of which the officials oversee the mammoth evaluation execise that the board exams are.

The CBSE had also used the TETRA software last year when it weathered opprobrium from all quarters after the Maths and Economics papers for class 10 and class 12, respectively were leaked.

Board officials saw the trend for both the papers and found that students from class 10 had not benefited from the Maths paper leak because the graph of their scores matched the general trend. Such was not the case with Economics paper, which was reset.

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The Board has since fortified its exam system, the official assured, but refused to divulge the details of the changes brought citing risk of their getting compromised.

The official also debunked reports that the Board is conducting exams early this year due to general election, saying it’s “completely wrong” and that early exams have nothing to do with the elections.

“We are conducting exams a little early this year at the instruction of the Delhi High Court, which had said that the schools results should coincide with the Delhi University admission. To that effect, the results also this year will be announced early in May,” the official said. (IANS)

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Amazon’s Exit Could Scare Off Tech Companies From New York

Critics complained about public subsidies that were offered to Amazon and chafed at some of the conditions of the deal.

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New York City Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer (2nd-L) speaks during a press conference in Gordon Triangle Park in the Queens borough of New York, following Amazon's announcement it would abandon its proposed headquarters for the area, Feb. 14, 2019. VOA

Amazon jilted New York City on Valentine’s Day, scrapping plans to build a massive headquarters campus in Queens amid fierce opposition from politicians angry about nearly $3 billion in tax breaks and the company’s anti-union stance.

With millions of jobs and a bustling economy, New York can withstand the blow, but experts say the decision by the e-commerce giant to walk away and take with it 25,000 promised jobs could scare off other companies considering moving to or expanding in the city, which wants to be seen as the Silicon Valley of the East Coast.

“One of the real risks here is the message we send to companies that want to come to New York and expand to New York,” said Julie Samuels, the executive director of industry group Tech: NYC. “We’re really playing with fire right now.”

In November, Amazon selected New York City and Crystal City, Virginia, as the winners of a secretive, yearlong process in which more than 230 North American cities bid to become the home of the Seattle-based company’s second headquarters.

New York Mayor Bill de Blasio and Gov. Andrew Cuomo heralded the city’s selection at the time as the biggest boon yet to its burgeoning tech economy and underscored that the deal would generate billions of dollars for improving transit, schools and housing.

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Amazon said in a statement Thursday its commitment to New York City required “positive, collaborative relationships” with state and local officials. Pixabay

Opposition came swiftly though, as details started to emerge.

Critics complained about public subsidies that were offered to Amazon and chafed at some of the conditions of the deal, such as the company’s demand for access to a helipad. Some pleaded for the deal to be renegotiated or scrapped altogether.

“We knew this was going south from the moment it was announced,” said Thomas Stringer, a site selection adviser for big companies. “If this was done right, all the elected officials would have been out there touting how great it was. When you didn’t see that happen, you knew something was wrong.”

Stringer, a managing director of the consulting firm BDO USA LLP, said city and state officials need to rethink the secrecy with which they approached the negotiations. Community leaders and potential critics were kept in the dark, only to be blindsided when details became public.

“It’s time to hit the reset button and say, “What did we do wrong?”‘ Stringer said. “This is fumbling at the 1-yard line.”

Amazon said in a statement Thursday its commitment to New York City required “positive, collaborative relationships” with state and local officials and that a number of them had “made it clear that they oppose our presence and will not work with us to build the type of relationships that are required to go forward.”

Not that Amazon is blameless, experts say.

Joe Parilla, a fellow at the Brookings Institution’s Metropolitan Policy Program, said the company’s high-profile bidding process may have stoked the backlash. Companies usually search for new locations quietly, in part to avoid the kind of opposition Amazon received.

“They had this huge competition, and the media covered it really aggressively, and a bunch of cities responded,” Parilla said. “What did you expect? It gave the opposition a much bigger platform.”

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Other tech companies have been keeping New York City’s tech economy churning without making much of a fuss. Pixabay

Richard Florida, an urban studies professor and critic of Amazon’s initial search process, said the company should have expected to feel the heat when it selected New York, a city known for its neighborhood activism.

“At the end of the day, this is going to hurt Amazon,” said Florida, head of the University of Toronto’s Martin Prosperity Institute. “This is going to embolden people who don’t like corporate welfare across the country.”

Other tech companies have been keeping New York City’s tech economy churning without making much of a fuss.

Google is spending $2.4 billion to build up its Manhattan campus. Cloud-computing company Salesforce has plastered its name on Verizon’s former headquarters in midtown, and music streaming service Spotify is gobbling up space at the World Trade Center complex.

Despite higher costs, New York City remains attractive to tech companies because of its vast, diverse talent pool, world-class educational and cultural institutions and access to other industries, such as Wall Street capital and Madison Avenue ad dollars.

No other metropolitan area in the U.S. has as many computer-related jobs as New York City, which has 225,600, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. But San Francisco, San Jose, Seattle, Washington, Boston, Atlanta and Dallas each have a greater concentration of their workers in tech.

In the New York area, the average computer-related job pays roughly $104,000 a year, about $15,000 above the national average. Still, that’s about $20,000 less than in San Francisco.

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Even after cancelling its headquarters project, Amazon still has 5,000 employees in New York City, not counting Whole Foods.

“New York has actually done a really great job of growing and supporting its tech ecosystem, and I’m confident that will continue,” Samuels said. “Today we took a step back, but I would not put the nail in the coffin of tech in New York City.” (VOA)