Thursday, October 8, 2009

Physical Education, Activity and Academic Performance

A 2007 report from our friends at the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation further highlights the need to fight for PE and active after-school programs. According to the report, "...physical education has been substantially reduced -- and in some cases completely eliminated -- in response to budget concerns and pressures to improve academic test scores."

Most of us (especially SCORES folks) know that 1/3 of children of teens is overweight or obese. Yet very few elementary schools are providing an adequate amount of physical activity. The belief of some school administrators is simply to replace the time devoted to PE and replace it with additional classroom instruction in the hopes that this increase will lead to improve standardized test scores. The report cities 5 controlled experimental studies in three countries that suggests,
Sacrificing physical education for classroom time does not improve academic performance.
Other conclusions from the report include:
  • In some cases, more time in physical education leads to improved grades and standardized test scores.
  • Physically active and fit children tend to have better academic achievement.
  • There are several possible mechanisms by which PE and regular physical activity could improve academic achievement, including enhanced concentration skills and classroom behavior.
  • Additional research is needed to determine the impact of physical activity on academic performance among those who are at highest risk for obesity in the U.S., including African-American, Latino, Native American, Asian American, and Pacific Islander children, as well as children living in lower-income communities.
Follow the link for the complete report.

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