1.1 Background to the Study
Education stakeholders have recently voiced worry about kids' low performance in the school certificate exams. Some people accused school officials (principals) and instructors, while others blamed kids and their parents. Whoever is to blame, the truth remains that the school and its organizational administration are linked to the kids' academic performance (Leith, 2004). The school principal, as the manager, has a lot of responsibilities when it comes to the academic success of the pupils. According to Ruth et al. (1979), Wekessa (1997), and Olagboye (2004), principals or managers must first enhance school administration in order to increase student performance. This may be accomplished if the principal establishes a clear vision for the school, demonstrates instructional leadership, and encourages teamwork. Inadequate resource allocation and utilisation are often the result of a lack of vision in school administration. This is why, according to Ayot and Briggs (1992), strong leadership is critical to students' academic success. The school's main executive is the principal. He or she has administrative responsibilities such as overseeing the school's instructional programs, managing school staff, managing school finances, maintaining student welfare services, and fostering excellent community relations. His or her inability to do these activities successfully and efficiently will have an impact on the school's tone and academic objectives (Nwankwo 1982 and Peretomode 1991). In carrying out these responsibilities, the manager is required to plan, control, organize, coordinate, and direct the organization's human and non-human resources in order to fulfill the organization's objectives (Adeleke 2001 and Onifade 2004). Exams are a big part of the Nigerian education system. As a result, poor test performance is usually blamed on the school administration, especially when the principle is in charge.
Between 2007 and 2010, academic performance of pupils in the West African Council (WAEC) and the National Examination Council (NECO) Senior School Certificate Examination (SSCE) was bad in Nigeria. In Nigeria, around a quarter of pupils received credit level passes in five or more disciplines, including English language and mathematics (Quality Education Assurance Agency, 2010). In the 2011 June/July NECO SSCE, only 22.34 percent of the 1,160,561 candidates obtained credit level passes and above in English Language and 25.14 percent in Mathematics in the 36 states of the Federation and the Federal Capital Territory, while only 30.9 percent of the 1,540,250 candidates obtained credit level passes in five subjects, including English and Mathematics (Owadie, 2011 and Okpala 2011). In the May/June 2012 West African Senior School Certificate Examination, 649,156 candidates (38.81 percent) of the 1,677224 candidates who sat for the examination in the 36 states of the Federation and the Federal Capital Territory received 5 credit level passes or higher in subjects such as English Language and Mathematics (Owadie, 2011). During the time under consideration, student performance in the senior secondary certificate examination (SSCE) was relatively low in states that had a history of strong performance.
The findings in Ondo, Osun, Ogun, and Ekiti states, for example, indicated low outcomes, which might be ascribed to inadequate management tactics used by certain principals and teachers in carrying out their administrative duties. The low performance of pupils in these exams was primarily attributable to the principals' inadequate administration. Most administrators seem to be failing to monitor and share current educational knowledge and innovative teaching practices to instructors in their schools. The government and education groups have been concerned about this. According to observations, most schools, whether rural and urban, are lacking in learning materials, instructors, and computers, all of which might have prepared children for future computerized examinations. Even when computers were accessible in certain urban schools, the epileptic supply of energy hampered their usage. The principal's administrative efficacy was put to the test when all of the foregoing was taken into account. Effective learning and teaching are hampered by certain administrators' incapacity to create team spirit among instructors, poor personal interactions with teachers, and inconsistent classroom visits. According to the results of the study, principals may make a considerable difference in students' academic achievement if they pay attention to teaching, techniques, class administration, school size, disciplinary patterns, and school atmosphere features (Rutter, et. al 1979). A principal who effectively exercises his or her leadership responsibilities will help his or her school attain high academic standards. This adds to the idea that efficient organizational management is a major contributor to success (Chitiavi, 2002). Teachers are not immune to the debate about pupils' low performance in secondary school tests. Students' academic performance is hampered by teachers' poor attitudes toward teaching and a lack of professional development.
1.2 Statement of the Problem
The diminishing performance of secondary school pupils in Nigeria in senior secondary certificate exams in essential subjects such as English, Mathematics, and Sciences has been a significant source of worry for education stakeholders (Ministry of Education, 2010). Despite the fact that secondary schools are believed to have talented pupils from elementary schools as well as skilled and qualified administrators, students' poor performance in senior secondary school examinations has continued. Without a thorough analysis, the causes for poor performance are difficult to determine. This suggests that instructors and administrators would be required to put in a lot of effort to enhance pupils' academic performance in secondary schools. This study therefore aimed at focusing on the effect of leadership skill of management on the academic achievement of students in secondary school.