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When School Districts Fail to Comply With State Physical Education Laws, the Fitness of California's Children Lags
The Challenge: In California, only 19% of adolescents met physical activity recommendations in 2007. Levels of physical fitness among children and adolescents are alarming low; according to 2012-2013 fitness test data, nearly three quarters of California fifth-graders failed to score in the "Healthy Fitness Zone" in all tested areas combined.
Make an impact: A substantial body of research indicates that physical education (PE) policies and interventions can increase children's physical activity levels and favorably affect physical fitness. Studies have also linked physical fitness with academic performance. Despite this evidence and existing California law requiring schools to provide students a minimum of 200 minutes of physical education every ten days, PE receives low priority in many schools.
What the findings are about: This policy brief summarizes findings from a study of California fifth-graders showing compliance levels with California's physical education mandates, student physical fitness levels, and makes recommendations for how we can increase physical education participation in all schools.
- Half of school districts studied failed to meet the California mandate for physical education.
- Recognize physical education as a pathway to academic achievement.
- Ensure that all schools follow the state's physical education laws.
- Fully fund physical education in all schools.
- Physical fitness data should be gathered using annual Fitnessgram testing.