The Physical Education Standards Movement in Wyoming an Effort in Partnership. (NASPE Standards in Action)
Deal, Tami Benham, Jenkins, Jayne, Byra, Mark, Gates, Ward K., JOPERD--The Journal of Physical Education, Recreation & Dance
School reform is not new. Over the past 20 years, there has been considerable public concern about the quality of teaching in our nation's schools and debate over school reform. Efforts to improve schools have been initiated by various groups at the national level (Holmes Group, 1985; National Commission on Excellence in Education, 1983; National Commission on Teaching and America's Future, 1996; National Education Goals Panel, 1991; U.S. Department of Education, 1991). Early efforts to improve children's education aimed at fixing schools and those who work in them. More recently, researchers and practitioners have come to understand that improved student learning only results from comprehensive and coordinated school reform (i.e., from the integration of changes in the classroom, school administration, school district offices, state governments, and colleges/universities). The comprehensive and coordinated approach to school reform goes beyond the piecemeal efforts of the past (Lawson, 1993).
Following a flurry of comprehensive school reform efforts nationwide, the Wyoming legislature mandated statewide performance and graduation standards in 1995 (Wyoming Statute 21-9-101) and charged the Wyoming Department of Education (WDE) with ensuring that all students be given the opportunity to meet the standards. Eight common core subject areas for which standards would be developed were identified: reading/language arts, mathematics, science, social studies, foreign culture/language, health/ physical education, career/vocational education, and fine/performing arts. Wyoming's decision to include health and physical education among the common core areas was influenced by highly publicized health warnings, such as the Surgeon General's report (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 1996); results from the Wyoming Youth Risk Behavior Surveys, which detailed the physical activity patterns of children and youths (Fahlberg & Fahlberg, 1995; Gray, Walton, Bosh, Roberts, & Marriott, 1993); and the opinions of health and physical activity advocates connected with the state government. To honor the statute, the Wyoming Superintendent for Public Instruction formed a common core coalition made up of eight content experts--one for each of the eight common core areas. The WDE provided each content expert a $25,000 grant to fund the cost of initiating the standards development project. Coalition members were directed to provide technical assistance in their area of expertise to all 48 school districts in the state, including assistance with the development and implementation of state standards, benchmarks, and performance standards.
How each member approached this daunting task differed across the eight core curricular areas. For health and physical education, the task of developing and implementing content standards, benchmarks, and performance standards (referred to as 'state standards" in the remainder of this article) officially began in 1999. The health/physical education coalition member invited three University of Wyoming faculty members with expertise in health, physical education teacher education, adapted physical education, and technology to become members of a leadership team responsible for guidance in writing and implementing the state standards. A representative from the WDE was also invited to serve on the leadership team for health and physical education.
The Need for Partnership
The state of Wyoming's geography and demographics present unique challenges to school reform. Fewer than 500,000 people inhabit Wyoming's 97,914 square miles of mountains and prairies. Of its total population, 35 percent reside in towns with fewer than 2,500 people. Sharp contrasts in the size and complexity of school districts exist, with larger school districts having as many as 13,000 students and smaller districts as few as 100 students. Some school districts have numerous secondary and elementary schools while others have a single K-12 school. …