How to Create Valid Marking Criteria in PDHPE

7-10 assessment marking criteria pdhpe Jun 18, 2023

Creating valid marking criteria is crucial in PDHPE. Here is a simple 6-step process you can use to develop the criteria and ensure it makes sense to students. This process brings together core policies and resources provided by NESA, as well as the hierarchy of verbs based on Max Woods' work in ALARM - A Learning and Responding Matrix.

 

Step 1: Identify the Learning Outcomes to be Assessed

To create valid and effective marking criteria, start by clearly identifying the learning outcomes from your PDHPE unit you wish to assess. NESA is very clear in all their documentation that the learning and assessment of students are to be based on the outcomes provided in the syllabus. Because we use a standards-referenced system in NSW we must focus on outcomes.

Standards-referenced assessment refers to the process of collecting and interpreting information about students' learning. It uses syllabus outcomes as key reference points for decisions about students' progress and achievement.1

So basically, outcomes are central to everything we do as teachers, more than content statements. NESA use the image below to help teachers understand the central nature of the outcomes.

Image is from https://educationstandards.nsw.edu.au/wps/portal/nesa/11-12/Understanding-the-curriculum/assessment/principles-of-assessment/standards-referenced-assessment 

The outcomes you select should reflect the specific knowledge, skills, and understanding you want students to achieve and demonstrate in the assessment. I recommend you only select 3-4 outcomes to be assessed as we are not required to formally assess every outcome. Assessing more than this makes tasks very large and can place more work and stress on students and yourself.

For example, you could select to use outcome PD4-1 examines and evaluates strategies to manage current and future challenges as part of your assessment for Health, Wellbeing and Relationships.2

 

Step 2: Align Outcomes with the Hierarchy of Verbs Found in ALARM

ALARM is an instructional framework developed by Max Woods to enhance teaching and learning across various subjects, including PDHPE.3 It consists of a hierarchy of verbs that represent different levels of cognitive complexity. These verbs, ranging from lower-order to higher-order thinking skills, help us design appropriate assessment tasks and create meaningful marking criteria. Below is a basic flow for the verbs. 

 

When we align this hierarchy with the NESA key words we can generate a basic flow for our marking criteria based on the key word used in the outcome. If we continue with our example of PD4-1 we can see the use of examines and evaluates as the key words. Examines is defined as Inquire into and Evaluates is Make a judgement based on criteria; determine the value of. We then use these definitions as we design our marking criteria. Below is our top-level criteria that we can then work from.

Clearly inquires into various strategies to manage current and future challenges and uses criteria to make a judgement on the effectiveness and appropriateness of these strategies.

From here we would also consult the common grade scale to adjust the criteria as well as the specific content statements and context for the task. 

 

Step 3: Adjust the Criteria Based on the Common Grade Scale and Specific Content

One of the key aspects of the common grade scale to be included is the student's ability to apply their knowledge and skills in various situations. This then means we should adjust our criteria by adding the need for students to use examples to support their answers, or to apply the strategies as they make a judgement.

Clearly inquires into various strategies to manage current and future challenges and uses criteria to make a judgement on the effectiveness and appropriateness of these strategies.

Applies the strategies in various situations to support the judgements being made.

When it comes to the specific aspects of the content and context we need to look more closely at the syllabus. Here we find the following content statements with their dash points.

  • evaluate strategies to manage personal, physical and social changes that occur as they grow older (ACPPS071)2
  • practise and apply skills and strategies to seek help for themselves and others (ACPPS072)2

We can then adjust this into the criteria to help specify the outcome to the content being assessed.

Clearly inquires into various strategies to manage personal, physical and social changes that occur as they grow older and uses criteria to make a judgement on the effectiveness and appropriateness of these strategies.

Applies the skills and strategies to seek help for themselves and others in various situations to support the judgements being made.

Of course, if you are going to prescribe the situations or the changes or limit it to just personal or social you can do this and remove the others from the criteria. 

At this point, we have our top criteria, which when achieved will give the students the top mark for this outcome. We just need to allocate the mark and then work down the verbs.

 

Step 4: Assign a Mark to the Outcome Based on the Level of Verb

Assigning a mark can be done with very little thought, but this may not be the best approach when seeking to make the task a valid and reliable task. Higher-order verbs need to have larger marks assigned to them. In this example, evaluate is a fairly high-order verb requiring deep thinking and application. For this reason, I would allocate a larger mark than for a "describe" outcome. However, I would recommend not allocating more than 12 marks for an outcome. In fact, the fewer marks the easier it can become to mark. You don't want to be tossing between a 27/30 and a 26/30 and then have to justify it to a student. Keep the marks smaller and line them up with criteria so it is clear what makes the cut. So for our example, I might make it out of 6.

 

Step 5: Move Down the Verbs and Define Their Criteria

As we move down the criteria to lower marks, we also need to adjust the criteria to match the lower levels of thinking verbs. With our example, we will be moving down from an evaluate, to a discuss, then to a describe, outline and finally an identify. Below is what this might look like, as we make the adjustments.

 

Step 6: Check Students' Understand the Criteria 

The final step is to ensure the students understand these criteria. I would make sure you highlight to the students the differences between the levels in the criteria as well as highlight the hierarchy of verbs with them. This will help them to know exactly what they need to add in order to achieve the highest result. 

 

By following this 6-step process you can ensure your marking criteria are valid. They are valid because they are based on the outcomes we need to use in our teaching, learning and assessment, as well as in our reports and feedback. They are valid because they relate specifically to the content being used for the assessment task. And, they are valid because they relate to the common grade scale. Using ALARM in conjunction with everything else helps students to improve their learning and achieve better results in their assessments.

 

References

1. Standards-referenced assessment - NESA

2. PDHPE K-10 Syllabus - NESA

3. ALARM Education

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