Ideas Exchange: Do You Believe That Physical Education Teachers and Coaches Should Have to Pass a Physical Fitness Assessment as Part of Their Licensure or Certification Requirements?

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Yes, absolutely! It's all about being a good role model, especially since teachers and coaches can have such a profound influence on youth's lives. If teacher/coaches are fit and healthy-minded people, they will likely exhibit qualities and establish learning environments that encourage students and/or athletes to develop a similar healthy lifestyle.

This is what sparked my interest in PE and health. I recall being a fidgety elementary school child yearning for the days I had PE class with Mr. Oates. He was my favorite teacher; partly because I loved to move, but mostly be cause I had fun in his class. The fact is that he made class fun. He was not only capable of being an active participant with us, but seemed to thoroughly enjoy it. What a thrill it was if he was on your team, or if you were able to tag him that day. It was not long before I found myself striving to be just like him.

Our field may quibble about the logistics of fitness testing (e.g., type, frequency, passing standards, etc.), but for me the bottom line is the same: our professionals should not just know their part, but look and act it too. Fitness testing was part of teacher certification programs years ago, and maybe it's time to turn back the clock before it is too late. As I have experienced, fit PE teachers and coaches can inspire future professionals into our field.

Russell L. Carson, Ph.D.

Assistant Professor, Department of Kinesiology

Louisiana State University

As someone who serves as a district-wide administrator supervising both physical education teachers (K-12), and athletic coaches at the middle and high school levels, I must deal with certification/licensure issues constantly. The State of New York is very stringent on what is required to be a physical education teacher at all educational levels. Separate certification requirements exist for coaches in the public school system. Generic principles for physical education and athletics include the following:

* All physical education teachers and athletic coaches must meet certification requirements in order to be employed.

* All physical education teachers and athletic coaches must be knowledgeable about fitness needs, and how to achieve these needs in order to produce meaningful programs.

* Fitness assessment protocols will have different results depending on the demographics of the populations involved. * Physical education teachers and athletic coaches should serve as good role models, whereby a "practicing what you preach" element includes physical imagery, brought about through healthy living practices.

There are realistic and legalistic fair practice issues concerning certification requirements that must be considered in employing physical education teachers and athletic coaches.

Physical Education Teachers During the academic preparation for teachers of physical education, a genuine interest in being healthy and fit for life is an inherent reason why someone pursues such a career.

In addition, all physical educators should have received instruction in:

* fitness education concepts (general)

* fitness assessment methodologies

* physiological changes due to fitness/activity programs

* sound nutritional practices for healthy living

* sports and lifetime skill analysis and design

With this background serving as a basis for developing one's personal philosophy and conduct relating to exercise, passing fitness assessments for certification should not be necessary. The assumption is that the knowledge developed and experiences gained, should serve as the catalyst for promoting fitness. We also have to consider the legal aspects of requiring one to pass a fitness assessment in order to be certified. Such a practice could be viewed as discriminatory and prejudicial, as many factors (e.g. …