In the News: Almost the Entire D.C. School District Is Ignoring its P.E. Requirements

In 2010, the city council in Washington, D.C. passed a law requiring schools to provide 150 minutes per week of physical education for grades K-5 and 225 minutes per week for grades 6-8. But as Joe Heim reports in the Washington Post, only 10 of the District’s more than 200 public and public charter schools meet that standard.

Most of the schools are not even close to it, resulting in students across the city receiving far less physical education than required by law. And at some schools, both public and charter, physical education classes are simply not available to all students who want to take them.

The failure by schools to meet the physical education mark is a factor of time, money and priorities, says Donna Anthony, OSSE’s assistant superintendent of health and wellness.

A study published by Education Next in 2006 looked at how differences in state requirements for PE affect the amount of time students spend exercising in PE class and also at the impact on levels of overall physical activity and the weight of high-school students. The relationships are not as straightforward as you might expect!

Bob Cullen’s article “Don’t Sweat It,” in the Fall 2006 issue of EdNext looked at how schools do — and don’t do — P.E.

An EdNext video looks at the 25th Hour P.E. class at T.C. Williams High School in Alexandria, Virginia.

Students enrolled in the class don’t break a sweat during the school day. Instead, they work out three times a week, before or after school. While the students are jogging, swimming, playing pickup basketball, going to soccer practice, or walking the dog, they wear monitors that track how long they exercise and whether their heart rates are in the target zone. Students meet with a P.E. teacher once a week to download the data from their monitor to her computer and discuss their workouts. Grades are based on how long students keep their heart rates in the target zone.

—Education Next

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