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A recent piece in the Atlantic highlights a provocative statement that cites student truancy and other school disciplinary problems as a result of physical education.

As the CEO for SHAPE America – Society for Health and Physical Educators, a national nonprofit organization representing 200,000+ professionals in the field, I was very disappointed to see this narrow view of physical education so widely disseminated.

Although the sensationalistic title may catch the attention of many readers, it does little to reflect the ongoing work and positive outcomes that so many physical education programs are realizing throughout the nation.

It also does not address the national studies and research cited by the CDC’s Health and Academic Achievement report which shows that more participation in physical education class has been associated with better grades, standardized test scores and classroom behavior.* 

Upon further reading, I was encouraged to see that a positive theme did emerge late in the article – one that I think we can all agree is essential – which is the importance of educating the whole child.

SHAPE America’s National Standards & Grade-Level Outcomes for K-12 Physical Education define what a student should know and be able to do as result of a highly effective physical education program. As part of the National Standards (Standards 4 & 5), students are taught to exhibit responsible personal and social behavior that respects themselves and others. Additionally, they learn to value physical activity for health, enjoyment, challenge, self-expression and/or social interaction.

As more research substantiates the positive outcomes of social and emotional learning, these Standards are playing a more significant role in classrooms and schools across the nation. Additionally, The Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) opened new opportunities for schools to emphasize these important skills, including a student’s ability to make good decisions, recognize and respond to their own emotions, form effective peer relationships and persevere through difficulty.

As with all academic subjects, physical education is always evolving and growing. As a membership association committed to improving professional practice, SHAPE America is launching a national conference, Exploring the Mind-Body Connection: Social and Emotional Learning in HPE, to identify ways to teach and assess SEL skills in health, physical education and physical activity settings. Members of our community will also see these concepts heavily reflected in a new program we are soon launching for schools, health. moves. minds.

It’s important that children learn to love physical activity, and SHAPE America and its members are working to build a kinder, healthier and more active future for all students.

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  1. Judy E. Rink

    Thank you for the response. It’s really unfortunate that “fake news” somehow attracts attention more than the facts. All the more reason for advocacy at all levels.

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  3. Caleigh Beane

    I think SHAPE America is so amazing and empowering for all the work you guys accomplish. I agree that it is important for children learn to love physical activity. In this day and age children need to learn to love and understand it at as young of an age as possible.