This study was designed to carry out a survey of the problems and prospects of continuous assessment (CA) in Junior Secondary School in Nkanu West Local Government Area of Enugu State. Four research questions were formulated to guide the study. The sample for the study consisted of 80 respondents. A 24 item self- report instrument was used for the study. The data generated, were analyzed using mean and standard deviation.
The result shows that 20 out of the 24 items listed in the Questionnaire as the problems and prospects of continuous assessment implementation were agreed upon. Four (4) were not accepted as problems and prospects of continuous assessment. They include; demands on teachers time, anxiety/fear of failure, improving the quality of questions /items.
Improving invigilation, promotion of healthy study habit among students, reducing students population per class, students having access to continuous assessment scores, conducive classroom environment were some of the solutions proffered to remedy the ugly situation.
1.1 BACKGROUND OF THE STUDY
Assessment can be defined as the process of gathering data and fashioning them into interpretable form for decision making. It involves collecting data with a view of making value judgments about the quality of a person, object, group or event (Ajuonuma, 2006).
Assessment plays a significant role in the educational development of a person, and of course, a nation. It is a means of quality control, of determining the level of accountability displayed by Stakeholders in the industry and also of determining the effectiveness of teaching and learning as well as in finding out students’ achievement. It is a vital tool for educational evaluation, thus its importance as a quality assurance tool cannot be overemphasized.
The concept of assessment in the Nigeria context became officially operative since 1985 consequent upon the production of a manual for its implementation as a result of the implementation of the Nigerian National Policy on Education
which was introduced in 1977. Continuous assessment was therefore introduced alongside the 6-3-3-4 system of education in Nigeria.
Continuous assessment, according to Federal ministry of Education, Science and Technology (FMEST,1985) is defined as a mechanism whereby the final grading of a student in cognitive, affective and psycho-motor domains of behavior takes into account in a systematic way, all his performances during a given period of schooling, such an assessment involves the use of variety of modes of evaluation for the purposes of guiding and improving learning and performance of the student. These modes of evaluation according to Ajuonuma (2007) are considered adequate for assessment of students’ learning because it is comprehensive, cumulative, systematic, guidance and diagnostic oriented.
The goal of continuous assessment in the opinion of Awotua-Efebo (1999) include the enhancement of assessment as an indicator of Students’ achievement, the integration of curriculum and the focus of assessment on the potentials of each student rather than on a discriminatory summative evaluation.
Continuous assessment uses a variety of techniques for assessing the students because it considers all three domains of learning, namely cognitive, affective and psychomotor. In the words of Onuka and Junaid (2007), continuous 2
assessment uses tests, questionnaires, observation techniques and other tools to really determine whether or not comprehensive learning has taken place.
The objectives of the Nigerian government in instituting continuous assessment include making students’ scores a substantial percentage of the final certificate examinations. Up till now, only the examining bodies are able to tell what they do with the continuous assessment scores collected from secondary schools. Neither the schools themselves, the rest of the educational sub-system nor society are sure of what happens to those scores.
None of the examining bodies in Nigeria bothers itself about the continuous assessment performance of learners in our schools. They seem to be interested in obtaining the scores and merging them with the final one shot test administered by them which they suspect have been successful.
Justifying the introduction of continuous assessment into the system of education in Nigeria, Federal ministry of education (FME,1980) stated that it was meant to gradually discontinue the use of result obtained from the final or end of course examination in determining the level of educational accomplishment of a child.
In relation to this, Chuche, (1980) stated that Nigeria has suffered untold hardships on single certificate examination. For instance the leakage of examination paper has become a symbol of National disgrace.
Y.A. Alausa, a high school teacher in Kolin foundation secondary school, Arandis reported that a learner asked him, “Sir, why are we taught for a whole year and then given a one and half hour paper to determine whether or not we know the subject?” This is the question that has bothered educational practitioners since time immemorial.
Experts have cause to suspect the validity and reliability of the scores submitted by schools to the examination bodies as results of continuous assessment tests. Psychometric properties of the tests that produced these scores could not be ascertained. The training and ability of some of the teachers who generated them are in doubt as many of them lack professional training. In view of this, it is necessary to investigate the problems and prospects of continuous assessment in order to be able to identify the factors responsible for the poor implementation of this component of the 6-3-3-4 system. It has become necessary to embark on
studies taking a perspective on the implementation at the school level with a focus on secondary school teachers and students as the most important link in the implementation chain.
Implementation of continuous assessment in Nigeria has been tense with such problems as poor assessment skills of teachers, poor attention of stakeholders to the use of continuous assessment as a quality control and assurance tool and care free attitude of both teachers and students. Sufficient fund are not allocated for its implementation and continuous assessment scores storage of equipment such as computers are not made available for teachers to use (Onuka and Oludipe, 2004; 2006).
There is a common feeling in the pressure and demands from state government and individuals such as Okeke (1980), Onwuachu (1980), Onua (1980) that continuous assessment will provide a relief if not a complete cure for the present rampart examination malpractices. Thus, the limitations of the end of year assessment in our Secondary schools.
This study therefore was designed to find out what problems teachers and students in the Nigerian educational system encounter in the implementation of continuous assessment and how they could be mitigated as well as the prospects of using continuous assessment to further enhance teaching and learning in Nigeria.
1.2 STATEMENT OF THE PROBLEM
Studies have shown that implementation of continuous assessment in schools appear to point to the same direction- that the system is yet to be standardized in Nigerian schools.
Olandunmi, (2001) found in a study of secondary schools in four western states of Nigeria- Oyo, Osun, Ogun, and Ondo that the practice of continuous assessment needs improvement with respect to test construction, test administration, and item scoring. A study of secondary schools in Benue state also shows that implementation varies not just from school to school but even from teacher to teacher (Abakpa and Adegbe, 2001).
The most disturbing should be the case of Kaduna State where Hassan and Adeyanju (1998) found in a survey that some secondary schools even award continuous assessment scores without actually carrying out any assessment.
Nwana, (2003) sees continuous assessment as one of the three mechanisms instituted in the Nigerian education system to ensure accountability of educational institutions and other operations. The other two mechanisms are certificate examinations (at the end of every major level in the education system), and national assessment that focuses on the extent to which the whole educational system is achieving set objectives. An activity under this heading is the monitoring of learning achievement (MLA) carried out in 1996 by the Federal ministry of education and supported by United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF).
Long before now, Ipaye Tunde (1982) maintained with some justifications that continuous assessment will do more harm than good because of the suspected teacher’s bias in the scoring of the students in their class.
Teachers are even accused of awarding marks to students who are either closely related to them or who show them financial or material kindness, and fails those who do not.
The big question has been, would a short examination adequately assess what a learner has learnt over a long period of schooling? And how would you grade a learner who happens to fall ill and could not write the final examination?
Continuous assessment is expected to guide classroom teaching, motivate learners, improve mastery and guide progress from one class to the next (Nwana, 2003). Nwana, however states that many teachers are yet to fully appreciate the philosophy and techniques of continuous assessment. He also criticized the use of continuous assessment to favour non-performing students and calls for review of weights attached to continuous assessment and certificate examinations.
As a result of the fore-going, the purpose of this study was to examine the problems associated with the use of continuous assessment in schools and suggest solutions to the problems of continuous assessment.
1.3 PURPOSE OF THE STUDY
The purpose of this research work is to find out the problems encounter by teachers and students in implementing and responding to continuous assessment procedures. And also the prospects of continuous assessment implementation among Junior Secondary Schools in Nkanu West Local Government Area of Enugu State.
Specifically, this study intends to investigate the following:
- The major problems confronting teachers in the implementation of continuous assessment in Nkanu West Local Government Area.
- The major problems confronting Junior Secondary School Students in responding to continuous assessment procedures.
- The prospects of continuous assessment implementation in Nkanu West Local Government Area.
- RESEARCH QUESTIONS
- What are the major problems confronting teachers in the implementation of continuous assessment in Nkanu West Local Government Area?
- What are the major problems confronting Junior Secondary School Students in responding to continuous assessment procedures in Nkanu West Local Government Area?
- What are the prospects of continuous assessment in Nkanu West Local Government Area
1.5 SIGNIFICANCE OF THE STUDY
The findings of this study would be useful for educational authorities concerned with ensuring the successful implementation of continuous assessment.
The findings will help intimate teachers on the need to incorporate assessment into the larger learning framework. It will also help to place the teachers at the centre of all performance assessment activities in order to encourage more teacher participation in the over-all assessment or grading of his/her learners. 10
As suggested by Paris et al, (1991), teachers must be given opportunities to select and review assessment so that they become involved and knowledgeable in the process. This finding will also assist the public, parents and guardians especially the enlightened ones on what to expect from their children and wards.
1.6 SCOPE OF THE STUDY
This study is limited to Nkanu West Local Government Area of Enugu State. It includes the sampling of opinions of fourty(40) Junior Secondary School teachers and fourty(40) Junior Secondary School students in five(5) secondary schools in Nkanu West Local Government Area of Enugu State.
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