Making the Connection II
DEFINITION OF COMPONENT
The goal of physical education is to provide students
with the necessary skills, knowledge, and motivation to
be physically active today and for a lifetime. A quality
physical education program includes student and
program assessments, attention to development of
motor and social skills, and developmentally appropriate
instruction in a safe and supportive environment. Physical
activity is always a part of physical education but
does not necessarily refer only to organized curricular
activities. Classroom stretch breaks or recess are
examples of desirable physical activity outside of physical
education classes. (2)
IMPACT ON STUDENT
Desired outcomes of physical education programming
such as regular engagement in physical activity and
enhanced physical fitness have been associated with
better grades in school and improved performance on
standardized testing. Aerobic fitness has the greatest
influence on academic achievement, and math is the
subject most likely to be influenced by physical fitness.
High body mass index (BMI) is negatively associated with
In a study of the relationship of daily physical education
classes, physical activity participation, and academic
achievement of sixth graders, researchers found that
better academic performance was associated with
vigorous physical activity. (7) According to five studies
of elementary students, physical activity breaks during
the school day may have positive influence on academic
performance. Specifically, students who had daily
classroom activity breaks improved in on-task behavior
by 20% and exhibited significantly better concentration
scores after engaging in physical activity. (13)
STORIES FROM THE FIELD
In 2007, Fouke Elementary School had problematic
attendance rates and standardized test
scores. Obesity rates were high and 63% of
students were economically disadvantaged.
A physical education/physical activity
intervention was initiated. Elements
- Physical education, taught by
a certified physical education
specialist, three days per
- A Child Wellness Intervention
Grant allowed physical
education teachers to acquire
the research-based SPARK
physical education curriculum,
training, and equipment to improve
the quality of their program
- A before-school gymnasium time
was implemented which allowed
over 250 students to participate in
organized large group games and
individual skill development
• Students were taught
juggling skills, played
and were given
dance routines at
- After school, free tumbling classes were
offered for grades K–8, along with free
- A transverse wall was constructed in
the physical education activity room,
funded by the Physical Activity Nutrition
Tobacco (PANT) Grant
- In 2009–10, the school partnered with the University
of Arkansas Cooperative Extension Service to initiate
the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program Grant
- The Joint Use Agreement grant was used to assist the
community and school to collaborate while improving
the health, wellness, and fitness of students, parents,
staff and community members
In 2009, Fouke Elementary earned a ranking in the top 3%
of schools in Arkansas for fifth grade reading and science.
An astonishing 92% of fifth graders met their growth
objectives in literacy and writing. Nearly every grade level
had higher scores than the statewide averages in math,
science, and literacy.
RECOMMENDATIONS FOR BEST
National Standards for Physical Education
The National Association for Sport and Physical Education
(NASPE) sets forth National Standards for Physical
Education to provide the framework for a quality physical
education, which may be found at http://www.aahperd.org/naspe/standards/.
NASPE recommends that schools provide 150 minutes
of instructional physical education for elementary school
children, and 225 minutes for middle and high school
students per week, for the entire school year. Classroom
energizers, recess, intramurals, sports, or recreational
endeavors should be offered in addition to, not in place of,
the physical education curriculum.
For More Information
NASPE also offers an array of teaching tools and guidance
documents for implementing best practices, educating
parents, and motivating children to engage in a lifetime of
BIBLIOGRAPHY (selected references)
- Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development. The whole child
and health and learning. 2004.
- Ballard K, et al. Move More, NC’s Recommended Standards For Physical
Activity In School. 2005.
- Castelli DM, Hillman CH, Buck SE, Erwin HE. Physical fitness and
academic achievement in 3rd and 5th grade students. Journal of Sport
and Exercise Physiology. 2007; 29: 239-52.
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Make a Difference: Key
Strategies to Prevent Obesity, Get Started. Atlanta, GA: U.S. Department of
Health and Human Services, 2010.
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Physical Inactivity and
Unhealthy Dietary Behaviors and Academic Achievement. National YRBS.
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The association between
school-based physical activity, including physical education, and academic
performance. Atlanta, GA: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services,
- Coe DP, Pivarnik JM, Womack CJ, Reeves MJ, Malina RM. Effect of
Physical Education and Activity Levels on Academic Achievement in
Children. Journal of Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise. 2006;
- Hanson TL, Austin G, Lee-Bayha J. Ensuring That No Child Is Left Behind:
How Are Student Health Risks and Resilience Related to the Academic
Progress of Schools? WestEd. 2004. http://www.wested.org/hks
- Sallis JF, McKenzie TL, Kolody B, Lewis M, Marshall S, Rosengard P.
Effects of health-related physical education on academic achievement.
Research Quarterly for Exercise and Sport. 1999; 70(2): 127-34.
- Shephard RJ. Habitual physical activity and academic performance.
Nutrition Reviews. 1996; 54(4,2):S32–S36.
- Taras H. Physical activity and student performance at school. Journal of
School Health. 2005; 75(6): 214–18.
- Taras H, Potts-Datema W. Obesity and student performance at school.
Journal of School Health. 2005; 75(8): 291–95.
- Trost SG. Active Living: Physical Education, Physical Activity and
Academic Performance. Robert Wood