Physical Education Assessments: Types & Uses

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  • 0:04 Physical Education
  • 0:38 Assessment Basics
  • 1:51 Assessment Criteria
  • 3:55 Uses & Interpretations
  • 4:44 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Christopher Sailus

Chris has an M.A. in history and taught university and high school history.

In this lesson, we explore physical education assessments today and the common criteria that educators use. In addition, we discover the best way to approach using assessments with the student.

Physical Education

Ah, the dreaded gym class rope. You've probably seen at least one show or movie with a scene where high school or middle school students struggle to climb a heavy rope suspended from the ceiling of a gymnasium while a coach barks at them to climb faster. Your parents may even have horror stories of just such a scene from their own school days.

Fortunately, physical education assessments have come a long way since that was the norm. In this lesson, we'll discover today's physical education assessment principles, what they typically assess, and discuss ways to use and interpret them to aid both the student and teacher.

Assessment Basics

Assessing performance in physical education is different than in every other school subject. In subjects like history or English, generally, the entire class can be graded on the same material. Questions like 'When did the American Revolution start?' or 'What is a noun?' are integral to the study of their respective subjects and students must learn these facts. Assessment, in these respects, is about how best to structure the question; the knowledge being asked of each student is still the same.

In physical education, however, assessment is much trickier. Students come from different backgrounds, have different environments at home, and have different levels of physical competency. One student, for instance, might be able to do ten pull-ups with their eyes closed, while another might not even be able to do one. Assessing these two students, who start from very different physical competencies, is not entirely fair, nor would it be constructive for the second student.

Physical education assessment must be flexible, with student-centered rubrics based on each student's starting point. In addition to this, most state or school board-mandated physical education assessment standards are more holistic. They attempt to ensure students cannot just do a push-up or play basketball, but can do it correctly and understand how and why they should be doing it.

Assessment Criteria

Let's go over a brief summary of the standards often used to assess students' physical fitness levels today. Many states have turned to assessment standards for grading in one form or another to ensure students graduate healthier and with an understanding of the importance of physical activity.

The development and honing of various physical skills is central to any physical education course. These can be skills as simple as doing a push-up or sit-up properly, or something more complex, like hitting a forehand shot in tennis or shooting a basketball. Learning to do exercises and other physical activities properly is important so students don't hurt themselves. They can also aid in movement coordination, making students more nimble and able, and causing them to want to be more active. Once assessed, students should be encouraged to improve upon their weaker areas and perfect their movements and skills.

Something which sometimes gets overlooked in physical education courses is an understanding of human motion and physical activity. Students should be assessed not only on their ability to complete complex exercises and movements, but on things like the muscle groups being used in completing a movement. In more complex activities, like organized sports, students should also be assessed on their understanding of why such a movement is important or necessary to the goal, as well as strategic considerations within the game itself. These types of things are often best assessed on paper through a written test.

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