Developing Quality Physical Education through Student Assessments

By Fisette, Jennifer L.; Placek, Judith H. et al. | Strategies: A Journal for Physical and Sport Educators, January-February 2009 | Go to article overview

Developing Quality Physical Education through Student Assessments


Fisette, Jennifer L., Placek, Judith H., Avery, Marybell, Dyson, Ben, Fox, Connie, Franck, Marian, Graber, Kim, Rink, Judith, Zhu, Weimo, Strategies: A Journal for Physical and Sport Educators


Physical educators have attempted to align curriculum and instruction to the National Association of Sport and Physical Education (NASPE) content standards since the introduction of the standards in 1995. The NASPE standards were developed to provide a framework for student learning (i.e., what a student should know and be able to do) and to guide the development of quality physical education programs (NASPE, 2004). Although the standards have informed the teaching and instruction of countless teachers, how do those teachers know what their students have learned in relation to the standards?

Assessment of Student Learning

The most important mechanism for determining student achievement is assessing student learning. In an era when accountability matters, assessment is imperative. Assessment needs to be an integral part of the instructional process (formative assessment) to provide teachers and students with ongoing information about what they are learning. Assessment also needs to be used to determine what students have learned at the end of instruction (summative assessment). Teachers, students, parents, administrators, and policy makers need to understand what students know and are able to do as a result of their physical education program.

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Various resources on assessment (e.g., NASPE Assessment Series) have been developed to align with the national standards. These assessments are valuable resources for teachers. They have not, however, undergone rigorous testing to determine if they are valid and reliable. In other words, we do not know if they accurately assess what students have learned, if they provide consistent measures of student learning, or if the different assessments are similar in difficulty level.

In order to develop instruments that will accurately provide information to teachers about student achievement, NASPE assembled a task force of professionals that included leading researchers and teachers. The task force initially developed performance indicators for student achievement that aligned with the national standards. Subsequently, the expert panel wrote assessments for determining if students could achieve the performance indicators. Each assessment was pilot-tested and revised several times. Eventually, all assessments were tested with hundreds of students throughout the nation. This extensive process, not normally used in physical education assessment, was required to ensure the assessments are valid, reliable, and can be compared with each other in relation to difficulty.

Are you a teacher who has been asked by your school district and administration to implement standards-based education or a standards-based report card but have no means to assess student learning? If so, PE Metrics: Assessing the National Standards, Standard 1: Elementary (2008) will provide you with valid and reliable assessments to inform your teaching and help you determine what students have learned from the physical education curriculum. Furthermore, they will help you to understand if the content you are teaching is making a difference and will enable you to submit evidence of student learning.

PE Metrics: Assessing the National Standards

The first PE Metrics text provides teachers with elementary assessments for Standard 1: Demonstrates competency in motor skills and movement patterns needed to perform a variety of physical activities. Consistent with the national standards, the assessments were written to determine what students should know and be able to do at the end of Kindergarten, Grade 2, and Grade 5. …

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