Pre and Post tests in #PhysEd

Dear Phys Ed Community,

I am writing this blog in the hope that I can get some feedback from my fellow PE teachers around the globe. Please have a read and comment below. I am genuinely interested in your opinions and if it leads to some healthy debate then that is great too.

I was approached by a long time PE colleague from a neighboring school last week and he was looking for some help with a task he has been set by his school. His school is in the process of developing a range of pre and post tests in all academic areas. I guess the idea is to get students to sit a sort of standardised test at the beginning of the year and then again at the end of the year to determine the amount of growth each student has achieved in each subject area. He tells me that the Maths teachers for example have already devised a 200 question test that covers each sub-strand of mathematics. He has been set the task of devising a test or series of tests that can test all aspects of Physical Education twice yearly to assess student growth.

My initial response was to suggest a couple of fitness tests eg, agility test and aerobic test and maybe an invasion game sense rubric that could be filled out. I am told that this would not be enough. He needs to cover ‘all areas’… Fundamental motor skills, fitness, game sense, athletics, aquatics, etc (the list could go on).

The more I ponder this task the more I feel it is unrealistic and potentially detrimantal to the student LEARNING. Keeping in mind that the primary (elementary) students only receive 1 hour per week of PE instruction and the secondary students receive 2 hours instruction. I feel that this type of approach would lead to way too much assessment and not enough time spent on teaching and learning which in reality is the only way we can influence growth and development.

For the record I am not against assessment. In fact I think it is a vital part of what we do as teachers. I just feel that it is extremely important that we find a balance between assessment and teaching time to optimise student learning.

So… Here is the question… Is anyone aware of or does anyone use an all encompassing test/s that are easy and time friendly to administer or is this task just unrealistic?

Any ideas are welcome 🙂


5 thoughts on “Pre and Post tests in #PhysEd”

  1. Hi Brett,

    This might be controversial but I don’t think PE is an academic subject (unless it is being examined, and even then it needs to be practical as well). We are a unique practical subject that ensures the whole of the child is educated, not just the mind. It seems that those who run the school don’t understand it’s place in a child’s development. It happens all the time with Senior leaders deciding that PE should be assessed, reported, target setted and run exactly like maths, science or English.

    I do strongly agree with you about the balance of testing and teaching time. I’m not against testing, but I am for the sake of testing and gaining data within PE. The tests itself have to have an educational outcome, and the students need to know why and how they are being tested. I think your are right, I don’t think that there is an easy way to do what the school wants without taking up a substantial amount of teaching time. I would also be worried that amount of testing might put the children off PE.

    However if the school still wants that done, then perhaps the school could team up with a University with a Sports Science Department. They could work togther in gaining accurate data, as I feel us teachers don’t always follow procedures correctly (what’s the point of gaining data if it’s not reliable?). A lot of our observations are going to be subjective anyway.

    Then again if it’s approaching PE as the same of Maths, then why wouldn’t a set of 200 questions that cover the whole curriculum be used? That would be far easy to administer and would fall inline with the other subjects of the school are doing.

    Personally I think the senior leaders need to ask themselves where they see PE fit in as part of their overall educational aims? What is the overall aim of PE within their school? Is it to make children fitter? Is it to ensure an active and healthy lifestyle outside of school? Is it to make them better sports players? Once they have the answer, it might be easier to test and see if progress has been made, rather than for testing for every possible outcome.

    I would say that the senior leaders of the school need to be challenged on their understanding of what Physical Education is, rather than your colleague to try and implement an impossible task.


    1. This has really stumped me Brett. The question that I have been left with is ‘why’? What does the school really hope to achieve out of such a test? Is it about growth or is it about control? Does such a test really capture nuances of physical education. To me I think that learning should come down to engagement and improvement. I am just not convinced 200 questions is the best medium to manage this. Personally, I would prefer students setting their own personalised goals. I feel that this would be more meaningful.


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