RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN PRINCIPALS’ LEADERSHIP SKILLS AND SECONDARY SCHOOL STUDENTS’ ACADEMIC PERFORMANCE IN NAKURU NORTH SUB-COUNTY, KENYA

ABSTRACT
Principals’ leadership in educational institutions plays a key role in academic performance. It is observed that effective principals’ leadership in schools lead to academic performance and is characterized by skills and competences that build a collaborative school community whose effort enhances academic performance. Academic performance leads to students’ development in the capacity of knowledge, life skills and attitudes. Principals’ leadership is challenged following the variation between poor and well performing schools in KCSE the key indicator for academic performance. This study sought to find out the relationship between principals’ leadership skills (technical, human and conceptual) and secondary schools academic performance in Nakuru North Sub-County. The study used ex post facto research design. The target and accessible population included the 27 principals and 393 teachers from public secondary schools. A sample of 27 principals was purposively selected and 194 teachers were proportionately selected to form a total sample of 221 respondents. Two sets of questionnaires; Principals’ Leadership Skills (PLS) and Teachers’ Leadership Skills Perceptions (TLSP) were used as main data collection tools. Content, construct, and face validity was checked by the supervisors and other experts in research field from the Department of Curriculum, Instruction and Educational Management and pilot tested in 5 secondary schools. Reliability co-efficient of the research tools (PLS) and (TLSP) were estimated at 0.69 and 0.72 using Cronbach co- efficient alpha. Data analysis used both descriptive and inferential statistics with the aid of Statistical Package for Social Science (SPSS). Descriptive statistics included measures such as percentages and means. Inferential statistics involved Pearson-Product Moment Correlation Coefficient and accepted at α= 0.05. The study found that principals who have and utilize conceptual, human and technical skill in management of their school have a positive influence that result to students’ academic performance. Consequently, teachers’ who perceive their principals’ having leadership skills in the three categories and utilizing them contributes to teaching instructions and academic performance. Lastly, there was a significant relationship between principals’ leadership skills and student academic performance in areas of conceptual skills, human skills and technical skills. The study recommended teachers training institution to expose trainees into in-depth leadership and management skills. The study further recommended that, the ministry of education need to steer the opening of more leadership and management oriented institution to enhance leadership skills in areas of conceptual, human and technical skills. Lastly bbenchmarking should be done between poorly and best performing schools to bridge the gap between principals’ leadership and students’ academic performance.

CHAPTER ONE
INTRODUCTION
Background of the Study
The issue of leadership today is considered as a major and basic concern in all organizations and institutions globally. There is also increasing awareness on the importance of effective leadership that can enhance the achievement of the stated goals especially in educational institutions (UNESCO, 2013). Leadership in education is the epicentre around which all the school activities revolve (Harris, 2009). It is also the vital instrument in imparting knowledge, skills, and inculcating universal and ethical values. According to Sang (2010) leadership is regarded as the single most important factor in the success or failure of an institution such as a school. Sang further states that educational leadership determines a holistic academic performance. This indicates that, enabling leadership promotes organizational performance.

The central role played by principals in overseeing the progress of the schools has been focused with keen interest in developed countries. Findings on school leadership and training in some developed countries indicated that for the last three decades there have been efforts on developing programs to train prospective school principals (Kimenyi & Thuo, 2011). The development on principals’ administrators is geared not only in school management and instructional leadership but making them “change agents” (Hale & Rollins, 2012). The importance of principal training cannot be underestimated. UNESCO (2012) established that effective principal leadership is one of the most powerful determinants of student achievement and school improvement. Grossman (2011) further stated that principals are key ingredient to improving school performance especially in low performing schools.

Principals facilitate the teachers, students, supporting staff and the parents to come into the realization of the school vision, mission and values. Effect of good leadership in education is the determinant factor for a prospective society in any nation (Leithwood & Jantzi, 2010). Therefore, principals’ leadership that determine a prospective nation has to be endowed with skills and qualities that influence all aspects of lives in students. First, it influences the teachers’ self-efficacy, students and other stakeholders in schools hence building a collaborative school community. Robbins and Coulter (2007) noted that leadership is a composite of different skills that enhance conducive environment for better organizational functions. The skills range from human, technical, and conceptual. Principals’ leadership skills that revolve around the three categories of skills emerge to be very effective towards academic performance. These skills enhance conducive environment in a working place and a home for free will and self- determination for the staff leading to improved performance. Integrative principals’ leadership also help to create a positive perception in teaching staff that also leads to improved performance. Ross and Gray (2010) findings stated that, to create conducive environment in secondary school calls for dynamic and transformational leadership in nature today. This shows that leadership skills factor in, in binding the group together and motivates it towards the goals by transforming its potentials into reality.

To achieve vision 2030, educational leadership requires reawakening to the reality of effective and quality leadership. That is, leadership that is focused to achieve educational goals and also realises education is the social pillar towards achievement of Vision 2030. Corat Africa (2011), stated that leadership need skills necessary to bring the school stakeholders on board in order, to participatory realize the institutional goals as a school community. Organizational behaviour approaches to leadership stipulate that leadership becomes dynamics in an organization, if a leader has the necessary skills for leadership (Mullins, 2007). Educational institutions are social organizations that require leaders who are knowledgeable and skilled in administration, pedagogy and social- cultural affairs of the school. To achieve the goal of student learning, there are some universal principles that make school leadership effective and efficient (Crum & Sherman, 2008). First, an effective principal is both a manager and an instructional leader. As an effective manager, the principal must coordinate all the school resources and processes to promote student learning; manage the school resources to support and improve teaching; provide supervisory leadership; be able to link evaluation and supervision to teacher professional development; and empower teachers by including them in decision making. As an instructional leader, principals must set direction by articulating a clear vision that the school should take, and clearly communicate with all stakeholders. In addition, principals must also have the knowledge and ability to collect data, interpret and use it to make informed decisions for school improvement; thus, they should be equipped with interpersonal, technical and conceptual skills (Kimenyi & Thuo, 2011).

CORAT Africa et al indicated that the three basic skills in education supervision are technical, human and conceptual skills. The skills enable a leader to make informed decisions that improve educational process for an effective achievement of the predetermined objectives. Technical skills refer to the abilities in a principal to understand and perform effectively the specific processes, practices and techniques required for specific jobs in educational organizations. Human skills refer to the abilities in a principal to understand the teachers and interact effectively with them. These skills enable the leader to act both officially and humanly. Finally, conceptual skills comprises of the ability in a leader to acquire, analyze and interpret information in a logical manner. The leaders’ integrity is mainly focused in conceptual skills. Sang, (2010) alluded that teacher training is not sufficient in preparation for principals’ roles as revealed by researches in Kenya. Mulkeen, Chapman, Deljaghere, and Leu, (2007) also pointed out that many principals or head teachers are ill prepared to meet the demands posed by the changing nature of their jobs. In response to the changing role of principals, UNESCO, (2012) believes that training and professional development of the principals are significant in contributing to the quality of schooling in developing countries.

The importance of having effective leadership in secondary schools is widely recommended by educationists. Crum and Sherman (2008); Leithwood (2007), and Leithwood and Jantzi (2008) asserted that principals provide valuable insights into their daily practice that fosters an environment which is supportive of high achievement. Principals’ leadership is also entrusted with the school discipline. It ensures safety of staff and students and creates a conducive environment for teaching and learning. Skills are abilities in a leader that create an atmosphere of trust and confidence in the work place. Blanchard (2007) noted that skilled leadership enhance the subordinate satisfaction and high performance in an organization. This means that selection of secondary school principals by the Ministry of Education (MOE) in Kenya is a process that needs critical thinking and special consideration. Issues of poor performance in national examination, indiscipline cases, and poor financial management challenge principals’ leadership skills (Sang, 2010). According to Early (2007), the appointment of a new head is a major event in the history of a school and is a crucial decision for the Board of Management (BOM) and the (MOE) that calls for consideration of leadership and managerial skills in an individual. Kyeyune (2008) stated that the selection of secondary school principals is based on seniority, good examination results and no attention is paid on leadership preparation in most of the principals in Kenya.

Students’ performance in the KCSE is regarded as an important indicator revealing how principals’ leadership and management vary in different schools. Secondary schools that consistently have had KCSE mean grade between 8.0 and 10.5 are associated with effective leadership that continuously supports the teaching and learning environment in their schools. It also encourages high level of discipline both to students and the teaching staff. Same schools are recorded with no indiscipline cases, high profile in extra-curricular activities, esteemed principals leadership and producing leaders in Kenya that have contributed to development and economy, for example: Mangu High school, Starehe boys, Bahati Girls, Loreto’s high and Alliance boys (Sang, 2010). The KCSE performance indicators in Nakuru North Sub-County show a trend between 2012- 2014 KCSE performance with great variation which is a point of reference in this study. The Sub-County has also a record of schools that persistently have gone on strike every year and others have never been on strike. In the same district there are extremes of schools that have academically performed poorly and others extremely well since their inception.

According to Bush (2008) academic performance is determined by a combination of many factors such as, high standards of discipline among teachers and students, the principals’ ability to articulate the school vision, maximizing support from parents, reorganization of school community needs, proper utilization of available school resource, and team building among others. The national exam is considered as a key indicator of academic performance in high schools that stem from effective leadership (Leithwood & Jantzi, 2008). Observation made in KCSE result for the last three year in Nakuru North sub-county, shows that there schools that have attained a mean grade of B’s and above for the last three consecutive years. This shows that there may be other influencing factors that enhance the academic performance to remain good other than class work. In additional, there are schools that have maintained a mean grade of C’s and D’s. It is on these grounds that this study aims to determine the relationship between leadership skills on secondary school academic in Nakuru North Sub-County.

Kimenyi and Thuo (2011) pointed out that KCSE performance shows that well performing secondary schools in Kenya are associated with good leadership that integrate human, technical and conceptual skills. The integrative aspects as stated in ‘The Secrets of Top KCSE Secondary Schools in Kenya Interviews’ (UNESCO, 2012) included: Team work, high levels of discipline, good teacher- student relationship, participatory decision making, and encouraging the spirit of hard working. Internationally, according to Leithwood (2007) leadership skills in schools are in much higher level of establishing direction, alignment, motivation and inspiration of the teaching staff.

Leaders who advance for change in schools involve stakeholders, such as the teachers and students in order to achieve the academic goals. It is the skills in a leader that are the force behind valuation of professional contribution of the staff, and fostering collaborative relationship that contribute to performance. Educational institutions are social organizations needing to embrace a spirit of collaboration in order to realize their goals. Principals’ leadership skills promote and encourage shared values among the group and create a healthy continuum culture and climate that yields academic performance in a holistic manner.

Statement of the Problem
Principals’ leadership in educational institutions play a key role towards a holistic academic performance. It is the leadership in the schools that coordinate all activities that enhances conducive environment for teaching and learning. Findings point out that effective principals’ leadership in schools leads to improved discipline and academic performance. Effective principals’ leadership is characterised with skills and competences that built a collaborative school community whose efforts enhances academic performance. The four year cycle in secondary school orient students towards their future aspiration. Thus, the noble task of preparing them requires focused, knowledgeable and above all skilled principals’ leadership today. The variation between high and low performing schools in Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education examination in Nakuru North Sub-County over years poses questions on principals’ leadership skills. There is no adequate research evidence on the relationship between principals’ leadership skills and secondary school students’ academic performance. Therefore, this study sought to find out the relationship between principals’ leadership in the area of technical, human and conceptual skills and students’ academic performance in Nakuru North Sub-County.

Purpose of the Study
The purpose of the study was to find out the relationship between principals’ leadership skills and secondary school students’ academic performance in Nakuru North Sub-County.

Objectives of the Study
The study was guided by the following objectives;

(i) To identify leadership skills that principals use in management of secondary schools in areas of technical, human and conceptual skills in Nakuru North Sub- County.

(ii) To establish teachers’ perception on principals’ leadership skills in secondary schools in Nakuru North Sub-County

(iii) To establish the relationship between principals’ leadership skills and academic performance in secondary schools in Nakuru North Sub-County.

Research Questions
The research questions that guided the study are as follows;

i. What leadership skills do Principals’ use in management of secondary schools in areas of technical, human and conceptual skills in Nakuru North Sub-County?

ii. What perceptions do teacher have on the leadership skills exhibited by their principals’ in Nakuru North Sub-County?

Hypothesis
H01 There is no statistically significant relationship between principals’ leadership skills and the students’ academic performance.

Significance of the Study
The findings of this study may be significant to the existing knowledge of leadership skills and strategies in leading secondary schools. The findings may enlighten the society/stakeholders in secondary schools to identify effective leaders (principals) who can enhance academic performance. The findings of this study may provide information that can assist in selection of secondary school principals; by Teachers Service Commission (TSC). The study may also inform the ministry of education of the current effort in developing program focused on the three categories of leadership skills that is conceptual, human and technical.

Scope of the Study
The study focused on registered public secondary schools in Nakuru North Sub-County that had sat for KCSE for the last three year. The study was limited to the principals and teachers in public secondary school registered for KCSE. The respondents were eligible due to their experiences in teaching, leadership and academic performance in their schools. The study focused on two variables, the principals’ leadership skills in areas of technical, human and conceptual skills and the secondary students’ academic performance in Nakuru North Sub- County.

1.8 Limitation of the Study
There was laxity in filling out the questionnaire by the principals and teachers that prolonged duration for data collection. To mitigate this, the researcher administered the questionnaires personally. The other anticipated limitation in the study included generalization difficulties. To overcome this, purposive selection of all principals in order to include all KCSE registered public schools and proportionate stratified sampling procedure was used to ensure fair representation of all the teachers in the study area.

Assumption of the Study
The study was based on the following assumptions:

(i) Effective use of leadership skills has integral relationship with students’ academic performance in secondary school.

(ii) Individual Principals have unique leadership abilities in secondary schools.

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Item Type: Kenyan Material  |  Attribute: 73 pages  |  Chapters: 1-5
Format: MS Word  |  Price: KSh900  |  Delivery: Within 30Mins.
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