Participation Trends in High School Physical Education. (Research Works)

Article excerpt

Using data from the Youth Risk Behavior Surveys conducted from 1991 through 1997, Lowry, Wechsler, Kann, and Collins (2001) analyzed trends in physical education enrollment and daily attendance, and in the amount of physical activity that students engaged in during class. The study included analysis by gender, race/ethnicity, and grade. The surveys, administered by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, involved a total of 55,734 students in public and private high schools (grades 9-12) across the United States. Although the attendance and activity data came from the students' self-reports, the questions that produced this data "demonstrated excellent test-retest reliability."

The results showed that physical education enrollment remained stable as a percentage of total student population from 1991 (48.9%) to 1997 (48.8%), although enrollment of black students experienced a significant decrease (from 60.7% to 46.3%). Significant decreases also occurred in the percentage of students who received daily physical education (from 41.6% to 27.4%) and who participated in more than 20 minutes of physical activity during class daily (from 34.2% to 21.7%).The greatest percentage decreases in daily physical activity were among black students, male students, and students in lower grades. The only group of students that did not show a significant decrease in their daily physical education attendance or activity was the 12th graders. While an average of only 25.6 percent of students in daily physical education engaged in more than 20 minutes of activity per class, students in all physical education classes experienced much more activity, with 75.5 percent getting more than 20 minutes per class. As students advanced into higher grades, their enrollment in physical education progressively decreased. For example, the percentage of ninth graders enrolled in physical education in 1997 was 69.2 percent, compared to 36.1 percent of 12th graders in the same year.

During the time covered by this study, most of America's high school students were not receiving an adequate amount of physical education and activity as defined by Healthy People 2000, which set the health objectives in effect at that time. …