By Richards, K. Andrew R.; Wilson, Wesley J.
Strategies: A Journal for Physical and Sport Educators , Vol. 25, No. 7
In an economic and political climate marked by the continued reduction of physical education programs, we believe that advocacy is now a professional responsibility that all physical educators have a duty to perform. Despite support from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (2010), the National Association for Sport and Physical Education (NASPE; 2010b), the President's Council on Physical Fitness and Sport (Le Masurier & Corbin, 2006), and the parents of children in physical education classes (NASPE, 2000), physical education programs are continuing to be cut from schools. As a result, advocating for quality physical education has become paramount. If we cannot be good stewards of our programs, they will continue to disappear and our children will not receive the education they need to develop into physically active adults.
Advocacy definitely involves promoting the importance of physical education at the local, state, and national levels. However, all efforts begin through the development and maintenance of a quality physical education program that aligns with state and national standards. As physical educators, it is our responsibility to develop the type of quality physical education that merits advocacy, an effort for which NASPE has created helpful resources. These resources include standards for physical education practice and guidelines for quality physical education programming.
Standards for Quality Physical Education
To better focus content and assessment in physical education, state and national learning outcomes or standards have been developed. At the national level, NASPE (2004) has created standards to guide physical education outcomes and define what it means to be a physically educated person. Similarly, NAPSE and the American Heart Association (2010) report that 48 states and the District of Columbia have developed their own state standards, many of which reflect and build upon the national standards. Physical educators can better guarantee that they are delivering standards-based instruction by choosing learning activities and assessments that align with the standards. Doing so will ensure that children are engaging in learning experiences that are representative of a quality program.
Quality Physical Education Defined
NASPE (2010a) provides an overview of four elements that are indicative of a quality physical education program: 1) the opportunity to learn, 2) meaningful content, 3) appropriate instruction, and 4) student and program assessment. The NASPE website (www.naspeinfo.org) contains a variety of useful resources that expand upon these elements and can help physical educators develop their program in accordance to the standards of quality.
* Opportunity to learn: Students should have the time and resources necessary for learning in physical education. NASPE (2010a) indicates that 150 minutes per week at the elementary level and 225 minutes per week at the high school level are a required prerequisite for learning. Physical education programs should also have appropriate equipment and facilities and be led by a certified physical education specialist.
* Meaningful content: The physical education curriculum should be structured to provide students with a variety of meaningful learning experiences including motor skill development, fitness education and assessment, development of cognitive concepts related to motor skills and fitness, social and emotional development, and the promotion of regular participation in physical activity outside of the school setting.
* Appropriate instruction: Physical education instruction should create an inclusive environment, maximize practice opportunities, and promote student learning. …