Doug Gates's picture

As a Physical Education teacher, I have mixed feelings about PE assessments. While it’s great that the importance of Physical Education is being recognized and validated, assessments do not address all the problems with the system.

1. Evaluations are a way to ensure students get a standard level of activity

 Unfortunately, this is not true, since there is really no accountability. The bad physical education teachers will "fudge" their numbers and with no checks or balances in the system, there is no way of stopping them. So they can just "roll out the ball" and make up scores. Who will ever know? I really hope there are not still P.E. teachers like this! Anyway, it scares me that I may take all this time and energy to do these assessments, only to have a lower score than a guy who makes up numbers to make his program look good! 

2. Assessments are a way of holding teachers accountable

* See above. Assessments give the perception of accountability. 

3. Time to record assessments 

I am completing my first benchmark assessment. This translates to roughly 750 grades. Since my district has turned me down on an IPad which would allow me to record "on the fly," I now must write them down and then find time to record them in the computer. This now translates to 1500 grades, and that is for one benchmark. Now, that is for just one grade band, if I wish to track all my grades, in order to have them accustom to system, then..... 

4. Time to assess 

Of course, these assessments are done during the class time. I have no problem with that, as I have been assessing my students for years. My concern here is: when everything was not recorded, I had time to work with students who needed extra help. Now, will the time that I usually spend helping students, be spent on recording? I will not let that happen, but it is a concern. When we ask about not having enough time to assess and record during a period, we were told "You may have to videotape your classes in order to grade them later." 

5. Tests, Homework, and Art Projects 

While the point system assessments are tough enough, grading tests, homework and art projects will be very difficult. Yes, in the assessments there are all of these. Unfortunately, the gymnasium is not set up for art projects, written tests, etc. Then again, will we have time to grade all of these projects? 

6. Assessment Criteria   

We are still waiting on assessment criteria for one of the benchmarks. We are several weeks into the school year, and we still have a benchmark that no one knows.  Don't get me wrong, I am not against the assessments, I just feel there will need to be some changes. To me, it feels like the assessments were created by someone who was not a physical education teacher, or who has not been teaching Physical Education in quite some time. 

All this being said, it is definitely a step in the right direction. I like that the learning goals are in direct line with the standards and benchmarks. I love the idea of making Physical Education teachers accountable. Unfortunately, this system does NOT do that. I love the fact that this assessment creates validity to Physical Education. Hopefully this will keep districts from cutting their Physical Education teachers, or keep districts from allowing classroom teachers to teach Physical Education!