Testing the gym teacher

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A New York Times piece from last week has been stuck in my head. Motoko Rich assembled a colorful portrait of the new normal in gym class. One push-up, one vocab word, two ball tosses, three laws of motion...now kids, find the number pattern? Frankly, in comparison to the watery memory I have of gym (mostly pleading stomach cramps to get out of some variation of dodgeball) these 'test-informed' classes sounded downright fun.

National interest in reading and math test scores isn't the only force driving gym teachers to assert their relevance via academic contribution. Despite being a 'non-tested subject,' gym teacher evaluations in over 60% of the districts we track include a student test score component. A quarter of those incorporate school-wide test results as one measure of the evaluation, meaning the gym teacher is in fact directly affected by her students' math and reading scores.

Districts should be carefully monitoring the implementation of these new evaluation systems for negative unintended consequences. We certainly don't want gym classes to transform all the way to being another algebra or American lit. But it seems to me, if anyone is equipped to maintain balance, it would be a gym teacher.