Background: Physical literacy (PL) in childhood is essential for a healthy active lifestyle, with teachers playing a critical role in guiding its development. Teachers can assist children to acquire the skills, confidence, and creativity required to perform diverse movements and physical activities. However, to detect and directly intervene on the aspects of children’s PL that are suboptimal, teachers require valid and reliable measures. This systematic review critically evaluates the psychometric properties of teacher proxy-report instruments for assessing one or more of the 30 elements within the four domains (physical, psychological, cognitive, social) of the Australian Physical Literacy Framework (APLF), in children aged 5–12 years. Secondary aims were to: examine alignment of each measure (and relevant items) with the APLF and provide recommendations for teachers in assessing PL.
Methods: Seven electronic databases (Academic Search Complete, CINAHL Complete, Education Source, Global Health, MEDLINE Complete, PsycINFO, and SPORTDiscus) were systematically searched originally in October 2019, with an updated search in April 2021. Eligible studies were peer-reviewed English language publications that sampled a population of children with mean age between 5 and 12 years and focused on developing and evaluating at least one psychometric property of a teacher proxy-report instrument for assessing one or more of the 30 APLF elements. The Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses (PRISMA) guidance was followed for the conduct and reporting of this review. The methodological quality of included studies and quality of psychometric properties of identified tools were evaluated using the COnsensus-based Standards for the selection of health Measurement INstruments (COSMIN) guidance. Alignment of each measure (and relevant items) with the APLF domains and 30 elements was appraised.
Results:Database searches generated 61,412 citations; reduced to 41 studies that evaluated the psychometric properties of 24 teacher proxy-report tools. Six tools were classified as single domain measures (i.e. assessing a single domain of the APLF), eleven as dual-domain measures, and seven as tri-domain measures. No single tool captured all four domains and 30 elements of the APLF. Tools contained items that aligned with all physical, psychological, and social elements; however, four cognitive elements were not addressed by any measure. No tool was assessed for all nine psychometric properties outlined by COSMIN. Included studies reported a median of 3 out of nine psychometric properties. Most reported psychometric properties were construct validity (n = 32; 78% of studies), structural validity (n = 26; 63% of studies), and internal consistency (n = 25; 61% of studies). There was underreporting of content validity, cross-cultural validity, measurement error, and responsiveness. Psychometric data across tools were mostly indeterminate for construct validity, structural validity, and internal consistency.
Conclusions: There is limited evidence to fully support the use of a specific teacher proxy-report tool in practice. Further psychometric testing and detailed reporting of methodological aspects in future validity and reliability studies is needed. Tools have been designed to assess some elements of the framework. However, no comprehensive teacher proxy-report tool exists to assess all 30 elements of the APLF, demonstrating the need for a new tool. It is our recommendation that such tools be developed and psychometrically tested.