While physical education has been drastically cut back across the country — in response to budget concerns and test score pressures — Naperville Central High School, in the Chicago suburbs, has embraced a culture of fitness: PE is a daily, graded requirement. And for one group of struggling students, there’s an innovative program to schedule PE right before their most challenging classes. In the six years since that program started, students who signed up for PE directly before English read on average a half year ahead of those who didn’t, and students who took PE before math showed dramatic improvement in their standardized tests.
In 2010, an Ed Next video featured another innovative physical education program for high school students, the 25th Hour P.E. Class at T.C. Williams High School in Alexandria, Virginia. The program uses heart rate monitors to hold students accountable for how long and how hard they work out.