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Phys. Ed. Teachers May Be Judged by Students' Fitness

Physical education teachers in the Virginia Beach school district could eventually be facing an accountability crackdown, thanks to school board Chairman Dan Edwards, according to The Virginian-Pilot.

While teachers have faced increased scrutiny about their evaluations, phys. ed. teachers traditionally can't be measured in the same ways as teachers of most other subjects. Edwards wants to take advantage of a growing pool of student fitness data and eventually hold phys. ed. teachers responsible if their students don't boost their fitness levels.

In May 2010, first lady Michelle Obama's Let's Move campaign recommendedRequires Adobe Acrobat Reader that schools collect "valid and reliable data" to help inform student needs and current fitness levels. Let's Move suggests that PE programs have students engaging in moderate to vigorous activity for at least 50 percent of the time and wants schools to encourage physical activity for all students.

Virginia already requires its schools to test students in five fitness areas, according to the Pilot: aerobic, endurance, abdominal strength, upper-body strength, back strength and flexibility. Before this past school year, Virginia Beach hadn't analyzed its student fitness data.

Now, phys. ed. teachers must report student fitness scores to parents and principals.

Joe Burnsworth, assistant superintendent for curriculum, told the paper that parents can opt their children out of the fitness tests. Students also have the option of taking an online gym class in lieu of exercising with their classmates.

Burnsworth said the district noticed a decrease in physical activity once students reached high school, but can't offer an explanation. Next year, according to Burnsworth, every school in the district will have an electronic fat-loss monitor to measure students' body mass indexes to help phys. ed. teachers keep numeric data on body-fat changes.

"Our goal is to produce students who recognize the value of lifelong fitness," Burnsworth said.

Keep in mind, in late March, Va. Gov. Bob McDonnell vetoed a bill that would have required 150 minutes of physical activity per week in K-8 schools across the state. McDonnell called the bill a "significant unfunded mandate passed from one level of government to another."

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