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Case Study

This is an excerpt from Developmental and Adapted Physical Activity Assessment 2nd Edition With Web Resource by Michael Horvat,Luke E. Kelly,Martin E. Block & Ron V. Croce.

Matching the Assessment Tool to the Assessment Decision


Mr. Simon has three students with disabilities in one of his fourth-grade physical education classes. He is about to start a new unit that focuses on the overhand throw. He decides to preassess the class so he can plan his instruction according to the needs of these three students, and also to determine whether this class placement is the most appropriate setting for them. Mr. Simon reviews his test and measurement textbook and finds a simple assessment for throwing that can be administered to a group of students. The test, which involves averaging three throws for distance, has face validity for ages 4 through 12. He administers the assessment to his class and compares their scores with the norms provided with the test. The results indicate that the class overall is performing at the 53rd percentile. One of the three students with disabilities is performing above the class mean, while the other two students are among the lower-performing students in the class.


Mr. Simon concludes that the assessment results clearly indicate the class needs to work on throwing. However, having spent one class period conducting the assessment and another two hours interpreting the results, he is a bit perplexed about how to actually use this information to plan his instruction. He could form instructional groups based on how far the students can throw, but he realizes he does not have any information on why they are throwing so poorly. For example, is it because they do not know the correct throwing pattern? Or is it because they are weak and need to work on strength? In regard to the students with disabilities, one student appears to be in the right placement since she is throwing as well as half the other students in the class, but it seems that this may not be the best placement for the other two students.


Mr. Simon needs to make two decisions: an instructional decision regarding the overhand throw and a placement decision to determine whether this class is appropriate for his students with disabilities. His problem is that he used a norm-referenced instrument that measured the outcome, or product, of throwing performance. What he needed in this situation was a criterion-referenced instrument (CRI) to evaluate how the students were actually performing the throw. Had he collected this information, he would have known which components of the throw the students had mastered and which ones still needed work. He could have then used this information to plan his instruction. The criterion-referenced assessment information could have also been used to determine any unique needs the students with disabilities have on the throw objective and how these needs can be accommodated within the class. Teachers learn that they should use assessment to guide their decision making in physical education, but when they actually try to use it, some do not find the assessment results useful and subsequently stop assessing. The assessment process is not the problem; the problem is not knowing how to select the appropriate assessment tool to match the decision that needs to be made.