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3/27/2013 9:32:00 AM
Mandatory PE for K-8 by 2017: How are we doing?
Information provided by the Oregon Public Health Division

The 2011-2012 Oregon physical education (PE) data was released in late February. This latest report suggests that Oregon schools have a long way to go before meeting the 2017 mandate to provide 150 minutes of PE per week for students in grades K-5 and 225 minutes per week for grades 6-8, by the 2017-2018 school year. House Bill 3141 (now ORS 329.496) was passed in 2007, with 10 years given to ramp up PE programs. Now 5 years later, these goals seem further from reach.

Findings from the new report indicate that the average minutes for PE offered in kindergarten through fifth grades has stayed relatively the same compared with 2008-2009, the first school year PE data was collected. The minutes provided to 7th-8th grade students have actually decreased and increases at 6th grade are minimal.

PE provides vital physical activity opportunities to all students, many of whom cannot afford the cost of afterschool sports or live in neighborhoods where outside play or walking to school is unsafe. Passing the PE law was a step in the right direction. Children and adolescents are significantly more likely to meet physical activity recommendations – at least 60 minutes daily - when state and school district policies mandate physical education.

The link between physical activity and health is strong, and evidence also suggests that physical activity helps improve academic achievement, cognitive skills, and classroom and academic behavior. In addition, increasing time dedicated to physical education appears to help academic performance.

Quality PE is an evidenced-based practice for decreasing obesity rates and reducing the risk of related chronic disease. With roughly one out of four students overweight or obese, addressing obesity in Oregon is crucial. Obesity has also been identified as a major health issue associated with chronic absenteeism. Reducing health-related causes of absenteeism is a recognized approach to increasing academic achievement and high school graduation rates.

Since Oregon passed the PE law in 2007, schools have had tough choices to make. Physical education teachers and programs are often among the first to be cut during critical funding decisions. For Oregon to meet the 2017 mandate, the overall health and academic contributions of physical education will need to be recognized, valued, and supported.

What Your School Can Do
If your school is not yet meeting the requirements, create an action plan with a timeline for implementation. If facilities, training, or equipment is an issue, your school might also be a candidate for a PEEK-8 Grant.

For more information contact Jennifer Young at 971-673-0245 or jennifer.l.young@state.or.us eMail.
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