1.1 BACKGROUND OF THE STUDY
Our commitment to education for all has reoriented the teaching and learning towards learner-centered education (Mec 1993). The role of the National Institute for Educational Development (NIED) with the help of curriculum development and implementation programme is to support teachers in implementing the guiding principles f the Namibian policies in order to make the shift to learner-centered education (LCE) with continuous assessment (C.A.) as one of the basic principles in the education system.
Continuous assessment is a classroom strategy implemented by teachers to ascertain the knowledge, skills and understanding attained by pupils. Teachers administer assessments in a variety of ways over time to allow them to observe multiple tasks and information about what pupils know, understand and can do. The assessments are curriculum based tasks preciously taught in classroom.
Continuous assessment was first introduced in primary and post primary schools in Nigeria Federal Republic of Nigeria (1997), adopted the National Policy on Education (N.P.E) prior to this, assessment of learner’s performance was based purely on one-shot examination i.e. it usually administered at the end of the term or school year (i.e. academic session). The introduction of continuous assessment based on these statements. To improve evaluation of learner’s attainment by confirming that assessment is systematic, cumulative, comprehensive and guidance-oriented. The form of school based assessment currently in use in Nigeria primary schools in continuous assessment.
The pupils are assessed in the three domains of learning i.e. cognitive, affective and psychomotor domains in a number of times at certain interval by using variety of assessment strategies. Both the pupils and the teachers have the impression that the purpose of education is to pass tests and not only this but to pass examination. Continuous assessment is systematic because it requires an operational plan. It is cumulative in nature also in that any decision making about learner is based on earlier decisions and it is guidance oriented as said above, in that any data/information gathered on the learners will serve as the basic for further academic growth and development.
1.2 PROBLEMS OF CONTINUOUS ASSESSMENT IN BASIC SCHOOLS
Continuous assessment has been a feature of the school system for at least twenty-seven years now, that is from 1987. However, it is unfortunate that continuous assessment has not made the expected contribution to pupil’s performance due to the way it was conceptualized and also due to some other inherent problems in its operation. At the lower primary school where six examinable subject (Mathematics, English, Social Studies, Basic Science and Technology, Religious and Moral Education, and Local Languages) a pupils has to carry out 72 continuous assessment per year calculated as follows: 4 tests x 6 subjects x 3 terms = 72. Some of the problems that arise/facing the continuous assessment are as follows:
(i) Reduction in teacher and pupil contact hours.
(ii) Use of questions that require easier marking
(iii) Lack of uniformity in continuous assessment procedures across schools.
(iv) Lack of remedial instruction based on continuous assessment results takes place in primary schools.
(v) Lack of moderation.
1.3 RESEARCH QUESTIONS
In order to justify the effect of continuous assessment on students achievement. The research is to find answers to the following questions:
(i) What is the level of understanding of primary school teachers on the concept of continuous assessment?
(ii) What are the attitudes of pupils in basic schools towards continuous assessment?
(iii) What problems are encountered by teachers in ensuring correct continuous assessment?
(iv) What are the perceptions of primary school teachers about continuous assessment?
(v) Of what impact/benefits is continuous assessment to the students achievement in primary school.
(vi) What types of continuous assessment instrument are being used by primary school teachers?
(vii) How appropriate is the application of the continuous assessment guideline in primary school?
1.4 PURPOSE OF THE STUDY
The addition of continuous assessment in the situational and testing process is intended to achieve two major purposes:
Firstly, to improve both the validity and reliability of the results or pupils performance on tests and exercises, and secondly to help the pupils to develop effective learning and work habit. The present continuous assessment system is essentially based on frequent test taking and does not really serve the two critical purpose of continuous assessment classroom tests are based on assessment of lower abilities and memorization. Where assessments are based on low level thinking skills i.e. ‘knowledge’ and ‘comprehension, pupils complete their education still unable to analyses and apply their knowledge to solve problems. The central purpose of continuous assessment is to help the pupils to become a better learner and producer by encouraging pupils to improve their knowledge and skills through learning test talking and project understanding in the critical and important objectives of the school curriculum. The purpose of continuous assessment are achieved in the following ways:
(i) Longer time for collecting assessment data/information
(ii) Inclusion of more complex thinking skills in the testing programme
(iii) Use of different test forms and different test situation.
(iv) Teacher assistance and remediation.
1.5 SIGNIFICANT/IMPLEMENTATION OF THE STUDY
The objectives of the continuous assessment are in two folds: Firstly, to promote the use of formative assessment so as to improve the quality of learning and teaching and secondly, to establish a regular system of managing cumulative pupil’s academic performance marks for selection and certification. The preparatory work for the implementation of the programme began earnestly in November,2004 and the implementation in the pivot schools commenced in January, 2006. The phasing strategy provides the implementation process with an ongoing feedback on the usefulness of the continuous assessment materials and procedures in the classroom. The built in monitoring mechanisms at internal (local) and external (national wide) levels were conducted which revealed positive aspects about the continuous assessment as well as valuable lessons for improving the implementation of the programme. In order to address the issue of teacher’s competencies and standardize the implementation of the continuous assessment in primary schools, there was need to develop materials.
1.6 SCOPE OF THE STUDY
The scope of this study is limited to primary schools in Nigeria and it has to establish it own conceptual frame work for investigation.
1.7 DEFINITION OF OPERATIONAL TERMS
i. Continuous assessment simply means that system strategies/techniques of giving a pupil a final mark/grade based on the work done during a course of study rather than on one examination.
ii. Effect is known as the powerful impact that something has on something or somebody.
iii. Students are the learners in the school environment to acquire knowledge.
iv. Achievement is a something done successfully, typically by effort, courage, or skill.