Academic journal article Research Quarterly for Exercise and Sport

A Survey of Physical Education Programs and Policies in Texas Schools

Academic journal article Research Quarterly for Exercise and Sport

A Survey of Physical Education Programs and Policies in Texas Schools

Article excerpt

To better understand key physical education program factors and policies that may affect Texas students' physical fitness, a 39-question survey, administered as part of the Texas Youth Fitness Study (TYFS), was sent to 5,651 Texas schools via e-mail. The survey consisted of five sections: (a) demographics, (b) physical education/recess frequency and duration, (c) resources/environment, (d) school physical education polices, and (e) experience/perception of fitness testing, a total of 2,576 responses were received, of which 1,505 responses (elementary = 58.1%, middle school = 21.2 %, high school = 19. 4 %, and "mixed" school = 1.3 %) were used for the report. Most of the findings are consistent with those reported in recent national studies. In addition, there were four distinct aspects: (a) broad support among teachers for the Senate Bill 530 mandate, (b) strong evidence of adherence to the mandated testing protocols, (c) teachers' negative experiences related to the testing, and (d) lack of recess in some Texas elementary schools. The survey provided rich updated information on physical education programs and policies in Texas schools.

Key words: teachers' experiences/perceptions of fitness testing, resources, support

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Rapid increase in childhood obesity and decreases in other physical fitness components (e.g., aerobic capacity) have become a major concern worldwide (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention [CDC], 2006; Cole, Bellizzi, Flegal, & Dietz, 2000; Malina, 2007; Tomkinson & Olds, 2007; Wang & Lobstein, 2006). For example, the number of obese (defined here as [greater than or equal to] 95th percentile of the age- and sex-specific body mass index [BMI] based on the 1960s-70s National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey [NHANES] data) children in the United States increased from 7.2 to 13.9% in 2-5-year-olds and from 11 to 19% in 6-11-year-olds between 1988-94 and 2003-04. Among 12-19-year-olds, obesity increased from 11 to 17% during the same period (CDC, 2006). A similar trend was observed in Texas, which has a population of approximately 24 million. According to the Institute of Medicine (IOM) report on childhood obesity, two thirds of adults and one third of high school students in Texas were either overweight or obese in 2007, more than 20% of low-income children 2-5 years old were overweight or obese, and the obesity rate for young adults had increased from 10 to 20% (IOM, 2009). Similarly, according to a meta-analysis by Tomkinson, Leger, Olds, and Cazorla (2003), over the past two decades there has been a 0.4% decline per year in the 20-m shuttle endurance run in children. Designing effective interventions to stop and reverse such negative trends has become a national and international priority. To do so, key factors leading to the childhood obesity epidemic and the decline of other aspects of children's physical fitness must be understood.

Many factors, from a social-ecological point of view (Davison & Birch, 2001; Lewin, 1935) have been considered as causes of the childhood obesity epidemic and decline in physical fitness, including genetic (Farooqi & O'Rahilly, 2000), behavioral (Dietz & Gortmaker, 1985; Farooqi & O'Rahilly, 2000; Gortmaker et al., 1996), and environmental (Morland, Wing, Diez, & Poole, 2002; Transportation Research Board, 2005). The latter two are often the focus of interventions, because they can be relatively easily modified. The focus on behavior change has been on energy intake, physical activity (PA), and sedentary behavior, because multiple studies have shown that poor diet (Ludwig, Peterson, & Gortmaker, 2001), physical inactivity (Strong et al., 2005), and sedentary behavior (e.g., watching television; Lowry, Wechsler, Galuska, Fulton, & Kann, 2002; Robinson, 2001) correlate with childhood obesity.

Environmental factors could include the home, childcare facilities, schools, and the community (IOM, 2004; National Research Council and the Institute of Medicine, 2003). …

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