Teacher Evaluations of Standardized Physical Education Curricula

Article excerpt


Relatively little is known about the use of structured physical education curricular models in physical education settings. The purpose of this study was to examine teachers' perspectives of various physical education curricular models. Teacher participants ranged from those involved in very structured curricular programs, to teachers that chose their own curricular content within a National and State standards based framework. Seventeen teachers with varying degrees of experience from elementary, junior high, and high schools, in two western USA states participated. Teachers were interviewed about their level of expertise within their field, self-efficacy issues, and various challenges faced within their profession, with attention placed upon perception of their physical education curricula. Two themes emerged: (a) teacher reaction to structured physical education curricula was varied and those with more experience had more positive perceptions, and (b) teacher fidelity to their adopted curricular model was influenced by training, accountability, and content efficacy.

Classroom Settings

The No Child Left Behind (NCLB) act and its emphasis on standardized test results have placed pressures on school systems to focus on test scores. In turn, school administrators pressure teachers to prepare students for taking standardized tests (Reynolds, 2007; Wohlwend, 2009). In response to those pressures, some schools and districts have adopted standardized curricular programs for teachers to use. These curricula vary from programs with detailed scope and sequence plans that attempt to standardize student experiences to those models that provide standard scripts for all teachers to use when teaching content. Advocates point out that a common curriculum helps define more explicitly what students need to learn; thereby improving test scores and student learning outcomes from the curriculum (Clifford & Marinucci, 2008).

Classroom research study findings on standardized curricula use and outcomes are mixed. For example, in a study conducted with a Title 1 urban school in California, using the districted mandated Open Court Language Arts curriculum, it was found that students reading achievement scores exceeded that of students using different curricular models (Ede, 2006). In another study conducted in the state of California, however, with the same Open Court scripted curricular model, no evidence was found that students developed higher reading achievement scores than students using comparable methods of instruction (Ede, 2006).

Critics of standardized curricula often focus on the "deskilling" and decontextualized nature of the programs. Classroom teachers have reported feeling that standard curricula narrowed their discretion, discouraged effective instruction, and focused on lower-order learning (Owaga, 2006). Further, some believe that such policies can also limit inquiry-oriented, teacher-learning opportunities that build a flexible, professional knowledge base on which teachers rely to use best practices in a variety of situations (Milosovic, 2007). When classroom lessons are carefully scripted in advance, students may become good at following directions but less skilled at thinking critically and developing a personal sense of inquiry with "real"-world problems outside of the school environment (Owaga, 2006). More and more teachers are finding it increasingly difficult to use their knowledge and expertise to teach using best practices when they are expected to use a "teacher-proof' scripted curriculum written by textbook publishers (Kohn, 2008).

Another disadvantage of standardized curricula is that it doesn't take teachers' belief systems or value orientations into account. Teachers often choose to teach what they value. If teachers are prevented from teaching what they value, there may be a misalignment between teachers' values and their implemented curriculum. Ennis and her colleagues have a long line of studies on value orientations in physical education contexts (Ennis, Chen & Ross, 1992).

Value orientations represent educators' belief systems about what content is taught and how it is taught (Pajares, 1992). In physical education, Ennis and Hooper (1988) developed the Value Orientation Inventory (VOI) to examine physical educators' priorities for curricular decisions (Ennis & Chert, 1993). There are five VOI domains identified by Ennis (1992); a) disciplinary mastery, b) self-actualization, c) learning process, d) social reconstruction, and e) social responsibility. Further, limitations in resources such as time, personnel, equipment, and space often contradict teachers' value orientations, as they are unable to teach specifically to their ideal value orientation(s).

Structured Curricula in Physical Education

The structured curricular trend has expanded into physical education (Kohn, 2008). These curricular models are not driven by the testing pressures in traditional academic areas, but rather appear to be driven by two different, but not unrelated forces. The first force is the increased emphasis on physical activity. Childhood obesity has more than tripled in the past 30 years, perhaps due to low physical activity levels in children of all ages. The prevalence of obesity among children aged 6 to 11 years increased from 6.5% in 1980 to 19.6% in 2008. Additionally, obesity among adolescents aged 12 to 19 years increased from 5.0% to 18.1% (CDC, 2010). The second force is the need to support teachers who may be under skilled or teaching outside their content area. Most commonly structured physical education curricula are designed for classroom elementary teachers who are asked to teach physical education.

A number of these structured physical education curricula models now exist including Sports, Play and Active Recreation for Kids (SPARK, 2008), Dynamic Physical Education (DPE, Pangrazi, 2007), and the Exemplary Physical Education Curriculum (EPEC, 2009). For example, the State of Arizona has at least one district (all elementary and secondary schools) using the DPE curricular model (Pangrazi, 2007). The SPARK curricular model is commonly used by physical education teachers and classroom teachers in the State of California, and the EPEC curricular model is often used in the State of Michigan.

Perhaps the best researched of the structured curricular models is the SPARK program. SPARK programs were designed in response to a societal need to combat low levels of children's physical activity and physical fitness (McKenzie, Sallis, & Rosengard, 2009). Despite the many health benefits of physical activity, numerous reports indicate that children do not engage in sufficient amounts of physical activity for health purposes. In a study of the SPARK curricular model, it was determined that classroom teachers with additional staff development training in the SPARK curriculum taught more physical education classes than those teachers who did not undergo training, demonstrating higher levels of self-efficacy with teaching physical education content (Dowda, Sallis, McKenzie, Rosengard, & Kohl, 2005). Studies have shown the SPARK curricular model to have impressive effects regarding children's physical activity levels during physical education compared with students who do not participate in the SPARK curricular model. For example in one study, classes with trained classroom teachers had students that were 39% more active than the control group; and in SPARK physical education specialist classes, students were 70% more active than the control group (McKenzie et al., 2009).

Another model focused on increased physical activity is DPE. Morgan, Beighle, and Pangrazi (2007) studied the DPE curriculum and found that teachers using a structured curricular model, (i.e., DPE) contributed to students being physically active for almost 50% of physical education class time, well above the national average.

Davis, Prusak, Pennington, and Wilkinson (in review), studied students' perspectives of the DPE curriculum and found that students generally had positive perspectives of physical education in programs using the model. Further, students stated that physical education was a time to socialize with friends, release energy and take a break from pencil and paper work, learn health components of fitness, and believed that their physical education teachers were highly engaged and had strict management procedures (Davis et al., in review). Additionally, Prusack, Pennington, Vincent-Graser, S., Beighle, and Morgan, (2010) stated that the DPE curricular model was a "systematic success" in one SW district because of the following four factors; 1) the curricular model is district mandated, 2) on-going professional development opportunities, 3) a partnership with the local university, and 4) a highly engaged district coordinator. Although there are few studies available addressing student learning outcomes from DPE, the curriculum has been tested and revised for over 40 years and has had continuous feedback and anecdotal evidence provided by teachers used to update the curricular model (Kulinna, 2008).

Similar positive outcomes have been reported for districts using the EPEC curricular model. For example, elementary aged children using the EPEC model had improved healthy behavior knowledge scores as well as more positive personal and social behaviors than students in other non-structured physical education curricular programs (Kulinna, 2008). Teachers using the EPEC curricular model have also reported higher teaching efficacy (McCaughtry, Kulinna, & Cothran, 2006) and more positive psychosocial perceptions (McCaughtry et al., 2006).

National Standards Based Teacher-Designed Physical Education Curricular Models

The aforementioned structured curricular programs are in contrast to traditional physical education curricular programs where teachers typically have near complete curricular freedom. When that curricular freedom works well, teachers are freed to design a curricular program that meets the specific contextual needs of their students. Many teacher designed programs; however, are failing to fulfill their potential.

Recently, many districts and schools have adopted one of the many available curricular models for physical education, including more structured curricula such as SPARK, DPE, and EPEC. While there are some physical activity and student outcome data on structured physical education curricular models, there are a dearth of research studies addressing teachers' views of curricular models. Therefore, the purpose of this study was to examine teachers' perspectives of the DPE structured physical education curricular model as well as National standards based teacher-designed physical education curricular models.



Seventeen elementary and secondary physical educators (female n=5, male n=12), from two western USA States (AZ-9, CA-8) participated in the study. Teachers' ethnic backgrounds included Caucasian (n= 16) and African American (n=1) teachers. Participants were required to hold a valid Physical Education credential or a multiple subjects teaching credential that included physical education in order to participate in this study. Teachers represented a range of curricular programs ranging from a great deal of curricular freedom set within the context of National Standards (NASPE, 2004) to teachers using a structured curricular program. Teachers' years of teaching experience ranged from one to forty years (m = 15.41, SD = 11.92). Twelve teachers were working at the elementary level, two teachers at the junior high level, and three teachers were working at the high school level. Nine teachers reported using the DPE curricular model of physical education, and eight teachers reported using a flexible teacher designed curricular program based on the National Standards. University Institutional Review Board approved the project and all teachers signed an informed consent prior to their interviews.

Curricular Models

Dynamic Physical Education/Elementary. The Dynamic Physical Education structured curricular model has been available for over 40 years, and adopted in one SW school district for 37 years. The DPE curricular model includes a resource text with complete lesson plans for each unit. There is a program of lessons for kindergarten through grade two, a program for grades three and four, and lessons for grades five and six. Skills are taught in order, simple to complex, so that each child may be successful. The curriculum uses physical activity "levels" rather than grade levels to determine content in order to be developmentally appropriate. It is recommended that each student have her/his own piece of equipment ranging from jump ropes to beanbags to playground balls. The curricular model focuses on four major instructional elements: (a) physical fitness, (b) rhythmic activities, (c) body-management, and (d) visual-tactile coordination. DPE lessons are structured to include: (a) an Introductory Activity: (2-3 minutes), (b) Fitness Development Activity: (7-8 minutes), (c) Lesson Focus: (15-20 minutes), and (d) a Game Activity: (5-7 minutes).

Dynamic Physical Education/Secondary. Dynamic Physical Education for secondary school students includes a resource text with complete lesson plans for each unit, similar to that of the DPE for elementary students resource text with a similar lesson structure. Since some elementary and secondary physical education lessons are longer than 30-40 minutes, instructors should increase the minutes for each of the four parts in order to best fit their individual class needs. The differences between elementary and secondary DPE lessons are more of a focus on developing team sports and lifetime activity skills at the secondary level; and more emphasis placed on body management and individual skill development at the elementary level.

National Standards-Based Models. Teachers using National Standards (NASPE, 2004) to frame their physical education curricular programs were not teaching a structured curricular model (e.g., DPE); rather, teachers designed their curriculum to meet the USA National Standards. The National Association for Sport and Physical Education and their corresponding National Standards (NASPE, 2004) indicate that every child deserves an active, quality physical education program. 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. The purpose of the National Standards document is to provide the framework for quality physical education. In a standards-based physical education curricular model, teachers develop units and lessons and then demonstrate how units, lessons, and content address the National or State standards (in some cases teachers design lessons to meet State rather than National Standards).

Data Collection

Interviews. A semi-structured interview guide created by the principal investigator (PI) was used in this study. It was first piloted (n=5) with teachers not participating in this study in order to determine if the content addressed/matched the purpose of the study and if it was feasible for 60 minute interviews. The interview guide included questions related to teacher perceptions of the physical education curricular model being taught at their school site, focusing specifically on the successes and failures of implementing the curricular model, personal evaluations of the model, efficacy issues while teaching the particular structured curricular model or their teacher designed model, assessment with the model, and other teacher reflections on using her/his structured or non-structured curricular model. Interviews were audiotaped and transcribed for future analyses. The individual interviews lasted 30-40 minutes in length and were conducted at teachers' schools at a time and date that was convenient for the participants.

Observations. Additional data were gathered through field observations in which the researcher assumed the role of a nonparticipant observer. Field observations were conducted for four of the teacher participants' school sites to note fidelity to the teachers' espoused curricular model (i.e., structured or teacher designed) and to note relationships among teachers' interview data and classroom observations. The observations were recorded via field notes. The observer attempted to write key ideas down that were happening during lessons (i.e., teacher/student behavior). Further, after each class ended, the observer asked the teacher clarifying questions. After the observer left the school site and reread the field notes, assumptions and vignettes were also recorded. The observations represented both National Standards-based and structured physical education curricular models. School sites for observations were randomly selected among schools from one of the two States.

Curricular model data. Curricular model data reviewed included the district wide curriculum guide, materials given to teachers at in-service trainings, and any materials located on district web sites regarding the physical education programs.

Data Analysis

Data were analyzed using constant comparison techniques (Patton, 2002). Interview transcripts were read and re-read by the PI to develop initial themes. Two additional researchers worked together with the PI as peer reviewers to further develop themes until consensus was reached in identifying similar findings and potential themes. Data were then grouped into categories and summarized. Methodological triangulation, examining the interview transcripts, observational field notes, and curricular model data (i.e., information gathered at in-service trainings, district curriculum guide, etc.), were used to insure data trustworthiness as wells as to accurately portray teachers' perspectives of the structured curricular (i.e., DPE) and the National Standards-based teacher-designed physical education curricular models. Initial themes were checked against all data sources to confirm findings and look for any disconfirming evidence. Furthermore, member checks were used to confirm or deny identified themes with the teacher participants.


Three overall themes were identified in this study. First, related to teachers' perspectives of curricular models, teachers reported that the structured curricula worked well for some, but not all teachers, and that the structured models may be constricting. Second, structured curricular models are beneficial for "unskilled" classroom teachers, not specialists. The final theme was the variability in fidelity to the curricular model.

Standardized Curricula: From User Friendly to Constricting

User friendly. The structured curricular model studied worked well for teachers who had been using the curricular model for several years in an environment with high accountability and district support. Teachers using the DPE model within the district requiring daily structure found the model to be user friendly and that it led to positive student outcomes. Additionally, almost all teachers using a structured curricular model had received in-depth training on the model in their undergraduate teacher-training program at a large university.

Jerry has been teaching the DPE elementary curriculum for nearly 23 years at his school. He truly believed in the DPE model of physical education as he shared his positive perceptions:

Well obviously I am an ambassador for it. I love it.... But I mean the first day that I entered [my undergraduate program] it was like a light bulb went oft: I said I am wired for this. So I think my passion is only because I really believe I can do one thing really well. I don't work on cars or anything, but I can do this program really well and it is more of a lot of hard work... I love it and I think it works, l think the kids enjoy it. I think the district is very supportive (Elementary).

JT, a teacher in the same district using DPE agreed,

... it takes the pressure off you. I mean people sometimes look at this and say, you are so boxed in. I say do you want to do this? I am glad I know what I am doing the last day of school on the first day of school. That takes a lot of pressure off me. All I have to do is concentrate on teaching this well. If I want to change it, we have the opportunity to change it. This takes away a lot of the headaches of a new teacher in a new district trying to figure out what the heck they are going to do next week (Male, Elementary).

Stan, a teacher using the DPE curricular model in a district that hadn't adopted the curriculum also stated that

It just seemed like it was user friendly, and it seemed that I don't have to think about making up lesson plans all the time, and sometimes if I have - I mean, I've done the lessons in there so many times, I don't really have to sit down and study them that closely to know what I'm going to do, if I just have it in front of me.... I mean, it's there, and I follow it (Male, Elementary).

Additionally, when Stan was observed teaching the DPE model, it was noted that all four parts of the lesson plan were DPE lessons. When asked about his implementation of the model, Stan commented, "We need to work smarter not harder. No need to reinvent the wheel when lesson are already written down for us (teachers)."

Standardized curricular models are constricting. Although some teachers discussed their successes in using structured curricula, some also discussed limitations with structured curricular models, such as their perceptions of it being constricting. Teachers using teacher-designed curricular models also expressed that they thought they a structured curricular model would lead to feelings of constriction if their district adopted such a curriculum. When Katie, a standards based teacher, was asked if she would like to teach a structured curricular model she very bluntly stated,

If they're (district) going to tell me what I do day one, and what I do day two, I do have a problem with that, because the needs of my school are different than the needs of other schools (Female, Elementary).

Lisa concurred, stating,

I think for somebody who's a trained physical education teacher, they're (standardized curricula) not necessary. It kind of takes away from your creativity as a teacher. And if I was told by my old school, here I am as a teacher, if I was told I had to follow a model, I would not be happy. (Female, Secondary).

Several teachers stated that while they are opposed to the general idea of a structured curricular model, they did understand that there were some great ideas and lessons to be pulled out of such curricular models.

I'd like to have the access to it (model), but I wouldn't like to have to teach to it every day. I think it would be a good addition to whatever their ideas are, along with the state standards, I think that would be perfect. But to make someone have to do something, have to be on the same page every day that I don't think is great (Sara, Elementary).

Peter shared similar thoughts:

I don't like that. ! think when these mandated things come out it should be here are some great suggestions. In case you need more ideas, here you go.... I believe in standards based education. We should have standards.... I feel like I can do a better job than what's in the book for that kind of stuff, because I don't think sometimes people who write those books necessarily have much field experience. I would feel really restricted (Male, Elementary).

Additionally, the teachers that were teaching National Standards-based teacher-designed physical education curricular model stated that they enjoyed the freedom that came with meeting National or State Standards without the use of a structured curricular model. Mike stated, "The [National] Standards is, I mean that's mandated, that's what you're supposed to teach, but they give you the freedom to pick and choose the activities that you want to do to accomplish those" (Male, Secondary). Melinda agreed:

I feel that the one thing we still have in teaching physical education, you know.... You still haven't taken away the flexibility of teachers to really build lessons with creativity. We all want children to learn, and children learn at different ways. I mean, any good teacher knows how to modify, and so it has to be ways where you modify and make adjustments, adapt so that children can all learn whatever the outcome you want (Female, Secondary).

Teachers using a National Standards-based, teacher-designed approach were concerned with the ability or inability of the structured physical education models to meet each student's individual needs. As Marcus stated,

Some classes are really advanced, and you can get through several skills in one day, and other classes can't dribble a ball and walk at the same time. So, I think to do it that way its unjust (to teach a scripted curriculum) for the students. You need to go to what the students can do, and go from there (Male, Elementary).

Structured Curricular Models are Good for "Unskilled" Classroom Teachers

Teachers who stated that they would feel constricted using a structured physical education curricular model also expressed that they believed that structured curricular physical education models were good for classroom teachers that were not certified in the area of physical education. Lisa stated that, "they're (structured curricula) good as a starting point and it's user friendly" (Secondary). And Katie, that same teacher who "ewwed" at the thought of a structured physical education curricular model for herself stated that, "It would be very good for the new teachers who are having a hard time getting started who are kind of flailing" (Elementary). Sara agreed that structured physical education curricular model could help unskilled teachers, "I think for a teacher who maybe doesn't have the most expertise in the area, it might help a lot, but I think it just depends on the person, you know" (Elementary).

Teacher Fidelity to the Curricular Model: To the T of 70%

The final theme was informed by the body of knowledge of fidelity of implementation. That is, to what extent was a structured physical education curriculum adapted compared to original or teacher-espoused, teacher-designed curricular programs (O'Donnell, 2008). There were many instances of high teacher fidelity to their espoused model observed during classroom observations and spoken during interviews. Data are organized around the following teachers fidelity to the curricular model subthemes: (a) How often were teachers following the curriculum as written, and (b) whether or not teachers expressed that they had content knowledge about specific curricular areas, therefore determining what curricula content were taught.

For the structured physical education curricular model studied, teachers espoused that they followed the curricular models with high fidelity. Jerry stated:

It's definitely based on DPE. I'd say I do 100% introductory activity, 100% fitness development, 100% lesson focus and then I say even though Mrs. Smith, ASU Instructor says, to do the games. Sometimes I don't always hit the game, so l do that probably 90% of the time the game (Male, Elementary).

Jerry also teaches a summer course relating to DPE at a large university. It was observed that Jerry followed the DPE management plan exactly as directed, as well as transitioning through the four-part lesson plan as designed in the standardized DPE curricular model. Further, when observations were conducted at Jerry's school site it was noted, "Teacher does not vary when it comes to the length of time for each activity according to DPE handbook. Teacher stays according to DPE handbook in regards to length of each activity." Another teacher shared his thoughts on fidelity to using the DPE curricular model; "I follow the curriculum pretty much to a T. If I don't like the intro activity that we do that's the one I change the most" (Male, Elementary). While watching Ryan teach at his school site, however, he taught an introductory activity not included in the DPE lesson plan book, did not use required note cards, and he deviated from the designed management procedures.

Many teachers used comments "I follow the DPE curriculum to a "T," like Ryan's were heard throughout the interviews from teachers using the DPE curricular model; however, while observing several teachers using the DPE curriculum, the "following the curriculum to a T" statement was not totally accurate. For instance, in the DPE curricular model, it is recommended that teachers reprimand students quietly without attention placed upon the misbehaving student. Throughout observations teachers occasionally attracted attention to misbehaving students, such as, asking students who had been in "time-out" to raise their hands so the teacher could record their names in the grade book. A more realistic response of teachers' fidelity to the curricular model was voiced here by JT (Secondary), "The whole department now is somewhat doing DPE, there's another guy teacher he's about 60-70% of the time he'll do DPE" (Male, Elementary). Marcus elaborated further as to his own implementation of the model:

You just kind of mold it into your own thing what I like, you know I use the model but then I can insert an activity here or a game here, a lesson ... I'd say like 90% of the time we're doing DPE I take bits and pieces and I've tried it more at the beginning of the year. I'm struggling though to find lessons that I think I can do throughout the entire year. I notice that there's a lot of repetition, especially when you look in the Level I area of the curriculum ... So I feel like I'm almost run dry of new ideas, in terms of DPE (Elementary).

Collin shared similar thoughts,

I don't think you can follow any program specific black and white right down to the T. I think you have to make modifications that are comfortable with you as an instructor that fit into the circumstances and the situation that you are at the school and use this because of equipment because of facility use or any other thing that comes up.... You're not always able to do exactly what a DPE program is called to do at that time (Male, Secondary).

The content taught in many physical education programs depends on teachers efficacy related to teaching individual activities, lesson plans, or physical activity units. Teachers often teach physical activity content areas that they find personally enjoyable and the most comfortable teaching. This process was evident throughout the teacher interviews. Katie (Female, Elementary), a National Standards teacher-designed curriculum teacher focused most of her physical education program around a dance unit that took up the majority of the spring quarter:

To be honest, it [track and field] was something I wasn't strong in. And so, we do a lot of dance that with our big program, and I'm sure that that takes up some of my time, so I understand that it is in the standards, and if I am going to address, I need to at least start breaking back into track and field (Female, Elementary).

Conversely, several teachers mentioned their inexperience with movement and rhythms and how they struggled with that aspect of the curriculum. Mike stated, "Yeah, we do a dance unit, but we do it with the guys and girls so the girls pretty much take the lead. I'm learning as we go but I wouldn't be able to stand up and do the step" (Male, Elementary). Ryan agreed, "Rhythms, like I mentioned before it depends on the class, it depends on the age of the students, it depends on the school you're in. Sometimes rhythms are going to work, sometimes they're not" (Male, Elementary). Ryan worked in an inner-city school where he believed students do not relate well to square dancing, or line dancing that is included within most physical education curricula because they are not culturally relevant activities. Therefore, rhythms and dance units were not included with every classroom at that particular school site. Teachers also reported feeling awkward demonstrating and teaching dance due to their gender, "Well, I'm probably weak in the rhythmic area just because I'm a guy and I really have never had a background or a solid background in that" (Colin, Secondary). Sometimes teachers do not teach an activity because of the fear of students getting injured as Sara suggested, "Well, I'm a little apprehensive about breaking someone's neck" (gymnastics) (Elementary). Ryan is often concerned about teaching any potential contact activities:

Well, partly the football aspect, the kids lose their mind. They play street ball with everything at this school. They don't come from an organized sports background and when they're playing activities, just traditional sports, they can't handle it. They get competitive; they start to argue (Male, Elementary).


How teachers feel about implementing a structured physical education curricular model is a pivotal issue within physical education research and one that has been studied very little (Prusack et al., 2010). Further, Guskey (1995) stated that changes in teachers' attitudes and belief systems come only after teachers begin using a new curriculum and see positive outcomes. In the current study, it would seem that the teachers, who had taught a structured physical education curricular model for a number of years in a district with high accountability and support, generally had positive attitudes toward their structured physical education curricular models (i.e., DPE). Teachers stated that the anxiety of planning lessons for the next day was nearly eliminated with the DPE structured physical education curricular model. In contrast, teachers who had freedom in developing National Standards teacher-designed physical education curricula felt that structured curricular models were constricting and would put limits on them as professionals. Teachers elaborated that structured physical education curricula can limit teachers' abilities in providing relevant curricular lessons to students, as well as limiting the creativity of the teacher in designing individual lesson plans. Additionally, teachers mentioned that some structured physical education curricular models were unable to meet the needs of the culturally diverse classroom. Those same teachers; however, believed that structured physical education curricular models provided support for classroom teachers who had little physical education teaching background or experience.

Teachers showed mixed results in their fidelity to the curricular model taught. Teachers working in a highly accountable district, teaching the DPE curricular model, demonstrated high levels of fidelity to the model. Overall, teachers felt that the structured physical education curricular models, including DPE, provided structure, accountability, and easy-to-follow lesson plans. Prusack et al. (2010) have reported that the most critical aspect to which a common, structured physical education curriculum model contributes to effective teaching is the ability to maintain district-wide accountability, as one district in the southwest USA has accomplished.

"Despite NASPE's efforts to improve the quality of K-12 physical education by specifying what a physically educated person should be able to know and do, there is still a disturbing misalignment between the standards and the actual curriculum being offered at some school sites" (Bulger, Housner, & Lee, 2008, p. 45). It is becoming more clear that a physically educated person with the skills and knowledge needed to live a healthy lifestyle requires more than a collection of short team-sport units designed to keep students busy, happy, and good (Bulger et al., 2008; Placek, 1983).

It is likely that as districts struggle to meet the goals of standardized testing that structured physical education curricular models will continue to be attractive to many districts (Milosovic, 2007; Stevenson, 2008). If this happens, it may be important to keep in mind student diversity issues and teacher value orientations. By emphasizing exclusively "one-size-fits-all" standardized testing and curriculum, districts are treating all students the same, regardless of differences in their learning interests and styles, socioeconomic backgrounds, academic histories, or special needs (Kilpartick, Lua, Martinez, & Rogasner, 2007; Stevenson, 2008). Furthermore, one must remember that teachers are not passive recipients of structured curricular models, but emotional beings who interpret and enact as they see fit with the development of curricula (McCaughtry, Kulinna & Cothran, 2006), therefore, teaching to the students in a particular classroom, not to the textbook. One limitation of the current study was that not all teachers interviewed were observed in the classroom.

Implications and Future Directions

Results showed that teachers with significant training in their undergraduate studies of a structured physical education curricular model were able to follow the curricular model with more ease and acceptance than teachers required to teach a structured curricular model without substantial amounts of training. Universities and school districts may find it beneficial to develop a partnership to train undergraduate students in one highly prescriptive, high supported curricular model. This study provides support that teachers using a structured physical education curricular model require support from administration and fellow teachers to be successful in their implementation of the curriculum. Furthermore, Physical Education Teacher Education programs may look to enhance current undergraduate programs by providing methods courses in a variety of physical education curricular models.

Additional research studies are needed in the area of teachers' perspectives of structured physical education curricular models as well as teacher designed curricular in order to fully understand teachers' views of curricular models. It is also important to explore student outcomes from physical education curricular models. Finally, it may be beneficial to study undergraduate training programs as well as in-service training opportunities for physical educators to better understand how perceptions change over time.


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Dr. Tiffany Kloeppel teaches at Montclair State University, Pamela Hodges-Kulinna is on faculty at Arizona State University, and Dr. Donetta Cothran teaches at Indiana University.


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