The 2012 Shape of the Nation Report: Status of Physical Education in the USA (http://www.aahperd.org/naspe/publications/upload/2012-Shape-of-Nation-full-report-web.pdf), released yesterday by the National Association for Sport and Physical Education (NASPE) and the American Heart Association, finds that while 74.5 percent of states mandate physical education in elementary through high school, most still fail to require a specific amount of instructional time and nearly half allow exemptions, waivers and/or substitutions. These “loopholes” reduce the effectiveness of policy efforts to ensure the quality of physical education currently taught in the nation’s schools.
The report found that the majority of states mandate that students take physical education (43 states for elementary, 41 states for middle, and 44 states for high school). However, gaps exist in over half of these states. Thirty-three states permit schools and school districts to allow students to substitute other activities for their required physical education credit. Twenty-eight states allow schools or school districts to grant exemptions/waivers for physical education. Only six states, including Massachusetts require physical education in every grade, K-12.
NASPE and the American Heart Association recommend that 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. Currently, no states follow these nationally recommended guidelines at all levels.
NASPE provides free online Tools for Observing Quality Physical Education (http://www.aahperd.org/naspe/publications/teachingTools/observepe.cfm). For ideas on increasing physical activity opportunities in your community, visit www.LetsMoveInSchool.org