The purpose of this study was to determine the influence of secondary schools‟ educational planning on students‟ academic performance in Rivers State, Nigeria. The study had four objectives; to determine the extent to which schools‟ mission statement influence students‟ academic performance, to assess how schools‟ continuous assessment strategy influence students‟ academic performance, to determine how schools‟ benchmarking strategy influence students‟ academic performance and to establish the extent to which schools‟ syllabus coverage strategy influence students‟ academic performance in Rivers State. The study was guided by the education production function theory. The study employed descriptive survey design targeting 43 principals, 301 Head of departments and 2154 form four students. The sample had 23 principals, 120 Head of departments, and 215 students. The research instruments used were mainly questionnaires and interview. Qualitative and quantitative data obtained from the study were analyzed using the statistical package for social sciences (SPSS) to increase accuracy of results. From the study it is established that; the majority of the schools had mission statement written on walls and entrance of school gates, however they were not always communicated across the school verbally. Another finding is that, a majority of schools who had put continuous assessment program in place in assessing their students‟ made a considerable value added progress on their students‟ academic performance. However, the timeline was not well stipulated in many schools, this led to a clash of programs. It is further established that benchmarking is among the various strategies used by schools, practiced both internally and externally. Schools which used benchmark as a strategy, the study revealed that it positively influenced students‟ academic performance. A majority of the respondents indicated that, they use syllabus in lesson preparation and teaching, at the same time a majority of the students indicated that teachers normally inform them in advance about the content from the syllabus, a majority of the HoDs and principals indicated that they set targets for syllabus coverage by mid of June. From the study it is revealed that, early completion of syllabus allow the students to revise, gain confidence hence this influence their academic performance. The study findings have come up with the following recommendations, mission statement should be communicated always across the school and schools to tailor their programs on their school mission statement, schools to mobilize financial resources in order to engage in benchmarking and lastly schools should create more time for effective syllabus coverage in order to boost students‟ confidence in handling exams. The researcher proposes further research to replicate this study in schools in other States in the country. A study on the barriers of effective implementation of strategic plan in schools and lastly a study should be carried on strategies for effective benchmarking in schools.

1.1 Background of the study
Education in any country has always responded to the socioeconomic and political objectives of that country. This can be traced back to the ancient civilization of the Nile, Athens and Sparta. In these societies, education was meant to suit the lives and aspirations of the people and achieve goals of the society (Genevieve, 2007). Even today education continues to play a significant role especially in transmitting cultural heritage from different ethnic groups and also determines the career the student will be engaged later in life. For these reasons education institutions needs to set strategies for the provision of education and to make it relevant to its users.

Mintzberg and Quinn (1999), defined a strategy as „direction and scope of an organization over the long term which achieves advantage for the organization through its configuration of resources within a changing environment to meet the needs of markets and fulfill stakeholders‟ expectations‟. Strategy is always identified within the institutions‟ educational planning process where they match their strategies with the prevailing environmental factors, thus setting a strategy becomes the core business of planning.

A strategic plan in a school set up gives it a focus and a direction for the future by continuously adjusting to academic direction in response to changing academic circumstances (Bryson, 1995), in examining secondary school performance, the main cornerstone used by the MOEST is based upon key challenges which face this sub sector namely; access, quality, completion, retention and relevance (NESSP, 2005). To ensure that these challenges are mitigated schools normally prepare strategic plans that run between 3-5 years out of which they identify key strategies that are relevant for their existence. Among the strategies that are set by schools include the following and especially for this study: formulation of mission statement, continuous assessment, benchmarking, and syllabus coverage to affect students‟ academic performance.

Mission statement of an organization explains why an organization exists thus its overall purpose. It also states what organization does right now, in the most general sense. In this way, the mission also sets parameters for what the organization, through omission does not do (Mintzberg, 1999). Example of mission statement: Princeton Academy of Sacred Heart in USA “Our mission is to develop young men with active and creative minds a sense of understanding and compassion for others and the courage, to act on their beliefs. We stress the total development of each child, spiritual, moral, intellectual, social, emotional and physical” ( retrieved on 28th March 2013 at 11.05am.

There is conformity between the schools‟ activities and their mission statement for example the school community respect individual child needs‟, fosters a caring and creative environment and emphasizes emotional, social, physical and intellectual development of each child.

Osceola High School in Zambia mission statement is: “Our mission is to provide highest quality educational program by promoting the value of learning through

Relationships, Rigor, Relevance and Results”. Looking closely the school has managed to build meaningful supportive relationships amongst their students, staff and community and again 70% of their students have the opportunity to proceed to the next level of education. This is a reflection that their activities are tailored on their mission statement (http:/ statement.html retrieved on 16th April, 2013 at 9.25 am). In Nigeria, mission statement is both common in the business industry and education sector. For example the Dean of studies Maseno National School Mr. Odayo in his speech posted in the schools‟ website ( retrieved on 27th

March 2013 at 10am), reiterated that in true spirit of its vision and mission, Maseno school has proven itself as an institution that nurtures academic excellence and full blossoming of talent, the school has been registering impressive results in academic with over 98% of all the candidates sitting the final NECO examination gaining entry into universities to pursue education. From all the cases above we can therefore conclude that mission statement has Influence on the general performance in organization and in our case students‟ academic performance.

The second element of schools‟ strategic plan that determines students‟ academic performance is continuous assessment. Assessment can be defined as appraisal fixing or determining the value of something (oxford advanced learners dictionary). In education it is used to refer to any procedure or activity that is designed to collect information about the knowledge, skills and attitude of a learner or a group of learners.

In USA schools there is a continuous evaluation system; a 'cumulative file' or 'folder' is opened and will follow the student throughout his or her educational career. Marks range from 'A' (excellent) to 'F' (failing) in each subject. A student's academic performances depend upon test performance, given at intervals during the year, class participation, homework assignments and independent projects, etc. Generally twice a year the student's parents are sent a 'report card' indicating the grades earned in each subject. The student's overall academic history is recorded in a 'transcript', which is later requested by universities seeking to evaluate the students (http:/ retrieved on 17th April 2013 at 2pm.

However, despite the central role of mission statement, continuous assessment, benchmarking program and syllabus coverage strategies in enhancing the teaching learning process, it is not known to a great deal how schools continuously apply these strategies to enhance students‟ academic performance in secondary schools in Rivers State. This study attempted to find out strategic plans used by secondary schools in Rivers State in the provision of education. In addition the study examined whether there is any relationship between these plans and students‟ academic performance.

1.2 Statement of the problem
There has been low academic performance of students‟ in Nigeria Certificate of Secondary Examinations in Rivers State for the last three years as compared to the neighboring Akwa Ibom State as revealed in the NECO results released yearly by the Nigeria National Examination Council.

State education office of Rivers has organized workshops and seminars for principals and teachers on how to develop strategies to mitigate this poor result (Rivers Deo‟s office educational planning seminar notice: RN/01//02/2010 for all principals and BOGs). This has brought pressure on principals to ensure that examination outcomes for their schools are satisfactory to students, parents and other stakeholders. Indeed in the past, some principals have succumbed to this pressure thus engaging in unacceptable activities with intention of influencing their schools‟ performance resulting to examination irregularities (Daily Nation, March 27, 2011) .For these reasons this study contended to determine the influence of schools‟ educational planning on students‟ academic performance in Rivers State.

1.3 Purpose of the Study
The purpose of this study was to determine the influence of educational planning on students‟ academic performance in secondary schools Rivers State, Nigeria.

1.4 Objectives of the Study
The Specific objectives of the study were:

i. To determine the extent to which schools‟ mission statement influences students‟ academic performance in Rivers State

ii. To assess how schools‟ continuous assessment strategy influences students‟ academic performance in Rivers State

iii. To determine how schools‟ benchmarking strategy influences students‟ academic performance in Rivers State

iv. To establish the extent to which schools‟ syllabus coverage strategy influence students‟ academic performance in Rivers State

1.5 Research Questions
The following research questions guided the study.

i. To what extent does the schools‟ mission statement influence students‟ academic performance?

ii. How does schools‟ continuous assessment strategy influence students‟ academic performance?

iii. To what extent does the schools‟ benchmarking affect students‟ academic performance?

iv. How does the schools‟ syllabus coverage strategy influence students‟ academic performance?

1.6 Significance of the study
Findings of the study may be used by the school principals to formulate strategies to affect students‟ academic performance and embrace educational planning as a tool for effective planning for provision of education. This findings may also be relevant to teachers as they may give them a great insight into the need to use various strategies in the provision of education to students. The policy makers and education planners may also gain from the information on the need to restrategize the plans in order to make education more effective and efficient to its users. Scholars and academicians may also use this study as a source for further study.

1.7 Limitation of the study
The major limitation of the study was the inability to get in touch with some HoDs and principals who were not in school for most of the days during the study. To overcome this, teachers and deputy principals were used to give their opinions since it was believed that they had information on their schools‟ operations.

1.8 Delimitation of the study 
The study was limited to Rivers State and focused on principals, HoDs and form four students. It considered the influence of schools‟ mission statement, schools‟ continuous assessment strategy, schools‟ benchmarking strategy and schools‟ syllabus coverage strategy on students‟ academic performance. These may have not been the only strategies used by schools in the provision for education to affect students‟ academic performance. Therefore, the findings may not be generalized to all schools in other parts of the country.

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