Assessment Materials & Techniques for P.E. Programs

Instructor: Dan Washmuth

Dan has taught college Nutrition, Anatomy, Physiology, and Sports Nutrition courses and has a master's degree in Dietetics & Nutrition.

There are several ways that students can be assessed in a physical education (PE) class. Learn about these assessments, including the materials and techniques that can be used to complete these assessments.

Pop Quiz Time!

Think back to your elementary school days. Can you recall a time that you were assessed? If you are like most people when thinking about being assessed in school, you immediately thought about taking a written test or quiz in a class like math, science, or english.

However, you might not realize it, but students can also be assessed during physical education (PE) class. However, assessments in PE do not usually involve written tests.

Students can be assessed in their physical education class, but these assessments are different than assessments in other classes.
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PE Assessment

One of the main goals of PE class is to improve the health and fitness levels of students. Therefore, assessments in PE should involve these two areas. The following sections describe several ways that student health and fitness can be assessed in PE.

Body Mass Index

Body mass index (BMI) is a ratio of a person's weight and height. It is calculated by dividing a person's weight in kg by their height in meters squared (kg/m2). BMI is often used to estimate a person's body fat, which can be used to estimate a person's risk for various types of chronic diseases. The following chart shows how BMI correlates to body fat/weight:

BMI Measurement Body Fat/Weight Category
Less than 18.5 Underweight
18.5 to 24.9 Healthy weight
25 to 29.9 Overweight
Greater than 30 Obese

The materials needed to assess BMI include a scale, tape measure, and calculator.

Presidential Youth Physical Fitness Test

The Presidential Youth Physical Fitness Test is a series of five exercises that are designed to assess a student's physical fitness, and it was designed specifically to be used in PE classes across the U.S. The following list describes these five exercises and how the assessments should be performed:

  • Curl-up: A student lays on their back with their feet flat on the ground and their legs bent. The student then brings their chest up to their thighs (also known as a sit-up). Students should perform as many curl-ups in 60 seconds as possible. Materials needed: stopwatch.
  • Shuttle run: Mark two lines that are 30 feet apart and put two light objects (such as a block) behind one of these lines. A student starts behind the other line from the blocks. The student runs, picks up one of the objects, and runs back past the starting line. The student then runs to get the other object and brings it back to the starting line. Students are timed during this assessment. Materials needed: stopwatch, tape or chalk to create lines, tape measure, and two small objects.
  • Endurance run/walk: Students are timed to see how long it takes them to run/walk one mile. Materials needed: stopwatch.
  • Pull-ups: A student hangs from a bar that is horizontal to the ground, making sure the student's feet do not touch the ground. The student then pulls themself up towards the bar until their chin is over the bar. The student performs as many pull-ups as possible. Materials needed: pull-up bar (monkey bars can work as well).
  • Sit and reach: A student sits on the ground with their legs straight out in front of them. They reach forward as far as they can while keeping their legs straight. The distance the students are able to stretch is measured. Material needed: tape measure.

Pull-ups can be used to assess fitness levels in students.
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Pre and Post Assessments

It is important to perform both pre- and post-assessments. As mentioned previously, one of the main goals of PE class is to improve the health and fitness levels of students. If a student is assessed only once, it would be impossible to show improvement. For example, let's say Nick is a 15-year-old student taking PE. At the end of the semester, his BMI was assessed and found to be 27. Without knowing what his BMI was at the beginning of the semester, how can anyone determine if his BMI improved or not? Therefore, there should be pre- and post-assessments.

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