Having looked at what can and should be assessed, the question remains, 'How can it be assessed satisfactorily?' This question has been partly answered in chapter 1 under the headings of 'making sense of the judgment', 'modes of assessment' and 'principles of assessment' in an effort to understand assessment. So this detail will not be repeated but the reader will be referred to chapter 1 at the appropriate place. In the teaching situation, the question is partially answered through the teacher having clear purposes in mind as this will lead to the selection of modes of assessment and particular tasks and techniques. So the teacher must decide first of all whether the purpose is formative or summative, whether it is for feedback to the pupil, diagnostic, or for certification and selection for example (see chapter 2). The teacher will select the appropriate modes and methods such as continuous, terminal, practical task, theoretical or examination.
The assessment of performance in athletics and swimming in terms of times and distances poses no problems for the teacher as it is objective and reliable. All teachers will measure the same performance in the same way and get the same result. Problems only occur when performances under different conditions are compared, for example, in athletics the type of track and weather conditions can make a substantial effect on times. Therefore, where these types of objective measurements are to be translated into marks, as in GCSE, then consideration must be given to the conditions under which the performance took place.
The assessment of physical performances in open contexts such as games, and in closed contexts such as gymnastics and dance where the quality of the movement is the criteria are much more problematic. The subjective nature and unreliability of the teachers assessment, the lack of standardization in conditions such as opponents and team members have all been used as arguments against assessment and examinations (Schools Council, 1977). There are many misconceptions about the nature of the subjective judgment of the teacher and consequently the reliability of such judgements. However, Aspin (1974) and Kirk (1984), in relation to the arts and aesthetics, which are regarded as being subjective, and McNamee (1990), in relation to PE more generally, have shown that assessments can be objectively made based on recognized criteria (see chapter 1). The evidence from GCSE would support this thesis. However the nature of the assessment and reliability of the teachers is not unique to PE. It applies equally to