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1.1       Background of the Study

            Nigeria, like other countries of the world, acknowledges that education is a vital tool for achieving national development. Consequently, she has joined other nations in their match towards worthwhile educational investments and reforms. The purpose of schooling is to effect changes in children’s behaviour by exposing them to specific experiences through systematic presentation of skills, attitudes, concept and principles.

The teacher uses various techniques to observe the characteristics and behaviour of pupils that could promote or hinder learning. He can observe the skills used in problem solving, listen to pupils that could promote solving, listen to pupils’ answers to questions or their comments to note their difficulties and then adjust teaching accordingly, identify possible misconceptions and take care of them. At the end of the lesson, he checks whether the pupils have mastered the concepts taught. The outcome will tell him whether to slow down, change his method, use more instructional aids, revise previous lessons, re-teach a particular concept or move on to the next topic. This process is referred to as assessment. It is therefore part and parcel of the lesson.

Teaching can not be said to have succeeded until assessment proves so. Hence Nwana (2009) posits that no matter how effective the teacher, how intelligent the pupils, how adequate the audio visual equipment, if no provision is made for some evaluation of progress, the teaching efforts may be completely invalidated. McCormack and Jones (2008) went ahead to outline the relevance of educational assessment to include determining of pupils progress and helping educators to reflect on their teaching and material,  provoking students thoughts and action, encouraging students to ask questions and motivate them to learn.

            At the onset of formal education in Nigeria, a summative assessment was adopted. Pupils were assessed through a single examination administered at the end of school year. Teachers gave tests and examination to pupils but scores obtained from these exercises were only used for purposes of promotion from one class to the other and were not part of the criteria for final certification. This method was grossly inefficient because pupils from similar classes in different schools were tested and scored differently. No provision was made for adequate comparison of standards of performance from school to school.

One of the functions of a school is the certification of the individual learners under its embrace (Idowu & Esere, 2009). To effectively carry out this role, assessment of one kind or the other is a prerequisite. Assessment is a means whereby the teacher/counsellor obtains information about knowledge gains, behavioural changes and other aspects of the development of learners (Oguneye, 2002). It involves the deliberate efforts of the process as well as the overall effect of school learning on the behaviour of students.

Assessment covers all aspects of school experience both within and outside the classroom. It covers the cognitive as well as the affective and psychomotor aspects of learning.

            Following the government take over of schools in 1970, state and nationally set school examinations like first school leaving certificate and common entrance examinations were introduced and used as basis for  certification at the end  of primary six and for admission into post-primary institution, respectively. This new innovation has advantage over the class/school tests. At least, it presented the same tasks to members of a group thus advocating uniform testing, standards.

Nevertheless, their validity and reliability in the appraisal of each pupils response to some of the tasks were not purely objective but depended upon the standards and prejudices of the scorer. The use of the one final examination at the end of the term to determine pupils performance is unfair and cannot give a true representation of individuals child’s ability. Bassey and Idaka (2007) observed that intervening variables like sudden ill-health, accident, inability of the home and other periodic pupils psychological factors could considerably influence this one-short assessment critics of this assessment mode. Lawal (2009) have highlighted the negative effects on both pupils and teachers, such as encouragement of laziness by pupils, lack of interest in their studies, emphasis on reproduction of facts instead of application of learning to real life situation, valuing certificates instead of productive skills, emanating in academic misconduct.

            In Nigeria, Educational planners and administrators are now more conscious than ever because of their role in the nationwide scheme of curriculum innovation. Not only have new courses been introduced  and new contents injected into existing subjects, a fundamental change in the system of assessment of students’ performance has also emerge through the formalization of continuous assessment as a major component of evaluation process (Oyesola, 2006; Idowu & Esere, 2009).

1.2       Statement of the Problem

            In order to control the challenges of the education in Nigeria, a new system of education, the 6-3-3-4 was introduced and with it came a new form of assessing learning outcomes in all levels of Nigerian education. The continuous Assessment this new mode of assessment was therefore believed to take care of all aspects of pupils learning and thus a better alternative of the former method because it will involve the teacher/counsellor meaningfully in the assessment of his pupils/students and also create opportunity for the teacher/counsellors to be more innovative, more creative and exploratory in his teaching (Ohuche; 2008), and counselling activities.

            According to Okpala, Onocha and Oyedeyi (1999), continuous assessment has been subjected to a great deal of abuse and misinterpretations by teachers because most of them appear not to understand the reationale for continuous assessment in the school system. They have misinterpreted the policy to mean administration of monthly and bi-weekly tests in the cognitive domain. They also observed that some teachers inflate pupils’ scores, thereby making nonsense and negative the predictive comparability between such scores and those of central examination bodies. Consequently, disparity in assessment has been observed from school to school and form rural to urban locations. (Okpala: 1999).

            Ogbuagu (2006), observed that continuous assessment requires evaluation of the cognitive, affective, and psychomotor domain of the learner. This demands selections or construction of instruments, data collection must be organized, ordered, analyzed and interpreted to pupils, parents and teachers and even to government. These activities requires specialized and skilled personnel such as the counsellors. It is as a result of this, that this research work is set to expose the challenges school counsellors face in implementing the continuous assessment programme in secondary schools in Akwa Ibom State.

1.3       Purpose of Study

The purpose of this study is to examine the challenges secondary school counsellors face in the implementation of the continuous assessment programme in secondary schools in Akwa Ibom State. Specifically, this study will.

(1)  Find out how lack of finance influences, the implementation of continuous assessment by the school counsellors.

(2)  Examine how school over-population influences the implementation of the continuous assessment programme by school counsellors.

(3)  Examine how record keeping practices by subject teachers influence the implementation of continuous assessment by secondary school counsellors.

(4)  Examine the influence of counsellor-teacher relationship on the implementation of the continuous assessment programme.

1.4       Research Questions

The following research questions were raised:

(1)  How does lack of finance influence the implementation of continous assessment by the school counsellors?

(2)  How does over-population influence the implementation of continuous assessment by the school counsellors?

(3)  How does lack of record keeping influence the implementation of continuous assessment by the school counsellors?   

1.5       Research Hypotheses

            The following hypotheses were tested in the study

(1)  Lack of finance has no significant influence on the implementation of continuous assessment by the school counsellors.

(2)  Over-population has no significant influence on the implementation of continuous assessment by the counsellor.

(3)  Lack of record keeping has no significant influence on the implementation of continuous assessment by the school counsellors.

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