The David Malan Difference

Gramener’s Mukul Taneja was ana­lys­ing data of on­line courses offered by MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology) & Harvard & he stumbled upon this – In 2015, for the on­line Computer Science courses, Harvard had 300K stu­dents again­st MIT’s 250K des­pite MIT hav­ing 9 courses and Harvard hav­ing just one (CS50 handled by Prof David Malan).

Consistency in moderation

Yesterday, we saw how CBSE English marks were mod­er­ated up­wards and down­wards. Let’s ex­tend our data forensics in­to Karnataka’s state board ex­ams in class 10 and look for pat­terns.

This is the dis­tri­bu­tion stu­dents marks in English as a 2nd lan­guage. The height of each bar shows the num­ber of stu­dents who ob­tained a given mark.English 2nd

A few ob­vi­ous points stand out. Firstly, a huge num­ber of stu­dents get ex­actly 30 marks. This is not sur­pris­ing, as 30 is the pass mark. We also ob­serve that very few stu­dents get between 20 – 29 marks. Presumably, they are be­ing pushed up, or “mod­er­ated” to pass the ex­am.

This happened in the CBSE Class XII English ex­am last year too – where no stu­dent “just failed”, i.e. failed with­in 7 marks of the pass mark.

English 2nd just failedHowever. that is not the case with the Karnataka English ex­ams. A hand­ful of stu­dents (124 in num­ber) were among the ex­tremely few that failed with 20 – 29 marks. Of these stu­dents, 72 could have passed if only they re­ceived the same con­sid­er­a­tion. Here are some of those stu­dents’ marks. (Each row shows the marks of one stu­dent.)

Just failed because of English

It seems a trifle un­for­tu­nate – these stu­dents would have passed if they had been given the same con­sid­er­a­tion that over 1.2 lakh stu­dents had been given, by bump­ing their marks up to the pass mark.

We are not sure how the poli­cy of mod­er­a­tion is ad­min­istered. However, it does have to be a little more con­sist­ent to avoid un­fair­ness.

Note: We have chosen the Karnataka English ex­ams at ran­dom. This is true of most sub­jects in many states, where mod­er­a­tion is im­ple­men­ted with vary­ing levels of con­sist­ency.