‘CM’s Super 50’ is an initiative started by the Directorate of School Education Kashmir in 2015 in which talented children who have passed their Class XII are given extensive coaching during winter months to help them clear competitive entrance examinations for admissions into premier engineering and medical colleges of India and J&K. Top 50 children from each district across Kashmir Division are selected based on an open competitive examination. These students are given free coaching by the best faculty from government schools with the aim to help them clear these examinations. As part of this initiative, one centre was opened in each of the 10 districts of Kashmir Valley along with a divisional centre at Hyderpora for the toppers of the entrance exams. The positive response to the programme saw it being renewed a second year in 2016 in the same format.
While the programme has been lauded by one and all, there are certain gaps in this programme. First, the teachers providing entrance coaching are not equipped with specialized teaching techniques which are required for cracking entrance examinations. Second, a non-uniform topic coverage rate across different centres resulted in mixed performance of students across centres on the same test. Third, a lack of a systematic review process of student progress through centralized tests, meant that both students and teachers could not measure their performance. Finally, the students and teachers did not have access to standard and structured quality content required for effectively preparing for these entrance examinations. As a result, there were very few students who got into premier engineering and medical colleges from this initiative.
CHINAR has now partnered with DSEK to run the programme in 2017. We signed an MoU to implement this initiative with the department. We have roped in Avanti Learning Centres, a leading organization in India providing coaching to students for clearing IIT-JEE and NEET. The key highlights of this year’s intervention are:
- Online Learning Management System: Avanti has developed on online learning management system for competitive entrance examinations. This portal contains digital resources such as video lectures, practice tests and problem solving tips and tricks. Furthermore, students can take online exams topic-wise so that they can identify conceptual gaps through individual diagnostic reports. It also provides resources to teachers on how to teach specific topics and has lesson plans on delivering topics in a time-bound manner.
- Training: CHINAR and Avanti undertook an 8-day intensive training for faculty in techniques to teach for competitive exams in collaboration with the Directorate of School Education Kashmir. Sessions focused on problem solving, using the online learning management system and clearing conceptual doubts that teachers faced. Teachers also did peer to peer micro teaching sessions to help improve classroom engagement through a continuous feedback process.
- Content and Curriculum: Avanti’s content which has been developed by their expert team of IIT and Harvard Alumni has been provided to all selected teachers in digital form through a login to the portal. In addition, they have been provided with a series of workbooks to be used in class. The digital content includes class-wise lesson plans, video content (for teacher viewing before class) and can be downloaded for offline viewing. The workbooks, which have been printed by DSEK and provided to each student, are for student practice both in class and for homework.
- Program Management: CHINAR is fully undertaking the program management aspect which include regular calls to faculty and centre visits to collect student data and observe it to provide feedback to the teachers and review their lesson plans. Furthermore, we provide monthly reports to the department which includes syllabus coverage, use of the learning management system, student test scores and subjective assessments of teachers. Centres performing better will be incentivised by the government through excursion trips, extra allowances to teachers and so on.
We hope that this year at least 200 students will qualify various competitive examinations across 11 centres of the Valley, up from 60 from the previous year.