Qualities of a Meaningful Assessment
The best way to begin thinking about what makes a good assessment is to decide that the assessments you choose to use in your classes should be meaningful and purposeful to you and your students. As Wiggins (1998) notes, a good assessment actually teaches and improves learning. We would add that a good assessment is aligned with predetermined learning outcomes, goals, and standards. Alignment means that the assessments you choose give you information about the learning outcomes; in other words, you assess what you teach. The alignment of standards, goals, outcomes, and assessment is essential for a quality program.
As chapter 2 discusses, the goals and outcomes you select for your program should meet the physical education standards for your state. If you compare your state standards with the NASPE physical education standards, you will probably find that the two sets of standards are very similar or even identical. Figure 6.1 shows some qualities of a good assessment.
Many teachers in academic subjects are under enormous pressure to ensure that their students are learning and making progress each year. Although most physical educators are not yet under a mandate to administer standardized tests, schools do seem to be moving in the direction of increased testing and accountability for all teachers. In some states, the results of standardized tests are being used to make decisions about tenure and salaries. Even if your state mandates a certain type of test in physical education, you can implement other meaningful assessments that enhance student learning. If you do use an assessment, make it mean something and use the results. Choose assessments that give you vital information that will help you teach better and help students learn or improve their skills. An example of times when this does not happen is when teachers give fitness tests and then do not use the results to change curriculum or the types of units taught.
You should develop a wide array of assessment options to align with your learning outcomes. Select assessments purposefully to match your personal goals and to align with the instructional process. No cookbook or formula exists for developing universal assessments; this is part of the artistry of teaching.