Assessing Student Achievement in Physical Education for Teacher Evaluation: What Evaluation Methods Are Appropriate for Measuring Teacher Effectiveness?

Article excerpt

WHAT MANY TEACHERS CONTINUE TO IGNORE the practice of assessing student achievement in physical education, the "trend" of assessment has failed to go away. Recent federal pressure to include student assessment data in teacher evaluation systems (e.g., Race to the Top; U.S. Department of Education, 2009) is yet another indicator that assessment of student outcomes is here to stay--for classroom teachers, and for all other teachers in school. Though there is a strong tradition of assessing teacher practice in physical education, standardized measures of student achievement in physical education are relatively new. The requirement to show data on student learning in physical education as evidence for deciding teacher quality is even more unfamiliar. This article reviews issues about using student achievement data to evaluate physical education teachers. It also presents examples of assessments that could be used to document student achievement for the purpose of teacher evaluation.


Required state tests, together with locally determined assessments, are the usual source of data on student performance for classroom teachers. For subjects without required state assessment, like physical education, states may begin to require a combination of state-approved or locally determined measures of student achievement.

The need to collect student achievement data for teacher evaluation in physical education should not be a surprise. The National Association for Sport and Physical Education (NASPE), the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE), the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards (NBPTS), and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's (CDC) Physical Education Curriculum Assessment Tool (PECAT) all call for regular assessment to guide instruction and to align programs with mandated standards. Furthermore, assessment has been the third leg of conventional physical education pedagogy (curriculum, instruction, assessment) for the last decade--at least in theory, if not in practice. What has changed recently, as highlighted in Race to the Top, is the increased emphasis on school and teacher accountability. This accountability must be shown through the use of student assessment data to provide convincing evidence that the resources allocated for public schools, including teachers, are not being wasted and that they produce outcomes that citizens value.

Concerns About Connecting Student Achievement with Teacher Evaluation

While recognizing the need to ensure that teachers are effective, many educational leaders have spoken against directly connecting student test scores to teacher evaluations (Darling-Hammond, Am-rein-Beardsley, Haertel, 8c Rothstein, 2012), especially in subjects where standardized tests are not currently used (Fuhrman, 2010). Student test scores are affected by many factors, including some that are outside the teacher's control (e.g., private tutoring, a student's health, access to school-provided services). A complaint often voiced in regard to the use of standardized tests is that it is a snapshot of a child's performance on a single day, decontextualized from the circumstances of the student's life. For this reason, test scores are usually only one of a number of factors considered when making important decisions (e.g., school promotion, graduation, college admission). The American Educational Research Association (AERA) released a position statement on high-stakes testing supporting the notion that high-stakes decisions should not be based on a single test (AERA, 2000). Furthermore, high-stakes testing ignores many of the goals that schools and teachers set when deciding what to teach. Test scores may not be valid measures of teaching, programs, or schooling.

With federal dollars on the line, the incentive increases for teachers and administrators to cheat in order to gain or maintain needed funding. …