The Kerala High Court on Wednesday made some strong observations on the difficulties faced by ICSE students especially when competing for limited seats at professional colleges based on their 12th board exam marks (S Sidharth Nair v. State of Kerala)..Single judge Justice PB Suresh Kumar was hearing a matter that dealt with the entrance policy for engineering colleges in the State when he was informed that due to the moderation policy adopted by the ICSE Board, many students, who are already graded stringently, had had their marks further reduced.The Court termed ICSE students as the unfortunate victims of all these policies and wondered why parents continue to send their children to schools under the ICSE board which is infamous for its conservative grading practices. "ICSE students are truly the unfortunate victims. Knowing all this, I wonder why parents in our state still send their children to ICSE schools. Even CBSE seems to be a bit more liberal. I don't know why they choose ICSE. Sure, if they are extremely studious students, whether they go to CBSE or ICSE schools won't make a difference. But its the moderate students who suffer," the Court remarked. It also said that this is all the more baffling in Kerala where the policy for entrance to engineering colleges gives equal weightage to class 12 marks and entrance exam scores "Why do parents send students to ICSE knowing very well that they won't get better marks. Assuming they have to compete only with CBSE students in an entrance examination, maybe it would be justifiable. But in a State like Kerala where there's already a policy that 50 percent weight will be given to class 12 exams, what advantage do they have," the Court asked. Justice Kumar remarked that from what he has heard from parents who put their children in ICSE schools, such students might perhaps be able to better tackle the demands of undergraduate and post graduate courses due to the mode of teaching in ICSE schools.The judge also mentioned his personal experience with how ICSE schools are put on a pedestal, perhaps for good reason as they seem to have been better equipped even in his childhood days. "I studied in a Malayalam medium school. When I was in 10th standard we had to walk past an ICSE school. I could see a chemistry lab and students studying with lots of equipment. We on the other hand had never even seen a chemistry lab. The situation now is also similar, no?"Justice Kumar studied at St. Aloysius High School, Kollam and had to walk past the Trinity Lyceum ICSE school..The Court was hearing a batch of petitions filed by ICSE and CBSE students who approached the Court challenging the evaluation criteria for admission to engineering colleges in Kerala whereby the marks scored by students in class 12 board exams are given equal weight along with the entrance examination score. .It was the case of the petitioners that owing to the policy of "assessment standardisation" or moderation policy adopted by CBSE and ICSE boards to calculate the class 12 examination scores, the petitioners are at a severe disadvantage while applying for engineering courses..As per the moderation polices announced by CBSE and ICSE, no student of any school will score more than what was the highest average marks obtained by ex-students in the past three and five years respectively. This had been approved by the Supreme Court earlier this year. .Consequently, a large number of students in CBSE and ICSE boards have had their marks reduced on the grounds that it exceeded the highest average marks obtained by ex-students in the last three and five years respectively, it was submitted.Moreover, it was contended that the more lenient method of evaluation adopted by the SSLC board gave its students an unfair advantage in procuring seats in engineering colleges in the state..Pertinently, it was pointed out that the prospectus of engineering colleges had not been altered to accommodate the post pandemic changes made by the CBSE and ICSE boards in evaluating class 12 students' performance. .The Court observed that it will have to consider the decisions of the Supreme Court and various other High Courts as to when standardisation would be applied and as to whether the standardisation methodology prepared on a certain assumption of facts can be given effect to in a different situation.The matter will be taken up again tomorrow.