The National Association for Sport and Physical Education (NASPE) and the American Heart Association (AHA) recently released the 2012 Shape of the Nation Report: Status of Physical Education in the USA. The report provides a snapshot of physical education policy trends in all 50 states and the District of Columbia.
The good news: Almost 75 percent of states require PE in elementary through high school. The bad news: Most states do not require a specific amount of PE instructional time. Moreover, nearly half allow exemptions, waivers and/or substitutions for PE. According to NASPE and AHA, such “loopholes” weaken policy efforts to ensure high quality physical education in schools.
NASPE and AHA recommend schools provide 150 minutes per week/30 minutes per day of instructional physical education for elementary school children, and 225 minutes per week/45 minutes per day for middle and high school students for the entire school year. According to the report, no states currently follow these nationally recommended guidelines at all levels. In fact, only six states – Illinois, Hawaii, Massachusetts, Mississippi, New York and Vermont – require physical education in every grade (K-12).
Other interesting findings include:
- Twenty-six states (51 percent) require some form of student assessment in physical education
- Thirty states (59 percent) allow required physical education credits to be earned through online physical education courses
- Fourteen states (27 percent) require schools/school districts to perform fitness assessments
At Playworld Systems, we believe physical fitness is as essential to student success as learning to read and write. Unfortunately, in-school physical fitness opportunities are not high on the priority list for many states for a variety of reasons. Some states face budget reductions. Others deal with mandates to increase time devoted to academics. And perhaps some don’t fully grasp the benefits that physical activity affords students.
Check the Shape of the Nation report to see how your state fares when it comes to school physical activity requirements. How strong is the policy? What are your ideas for advocating for more physical fitness in schools?
The following resources are available to help: