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New Physical Education Assessments for Ohio Students, Schools

Guest post by Molly Martinez

Bad news for student's hiding out under the bleachers to avoid gym class—starting this school year, Ohio is implementing a physical education assessment that will be reflected on school report cards.

Unlike normal P.E. grading, students will be assessed on state standards in the subject, including their understanding of how to play games, their ability to play with others, and their physical activity outside of the class. The Columbus Dispatch has the story here.

Student ability will be reflected on school report cards, but won't count towards school performance ratings, according to the state department of education.

Although physical education is required in every district, districts decide for themselves how it fits into the curriculum. This new assessment will spell out the specifics on how physical education and student performance will be graded, and give a uniform system for P.E. teacher accountability.

"We have to make sure teachers are doing what they're supposed to be doing" said Amy Farr senior program manager in Physical Education for the National Association for Sport and Physical Education, according to The Columbus Dispatch. "It's holding them accountable."

The importance of physical education has been a hot topic in light of the nation's growing obesity epidemic, and particularly concern about childhood obesity. According to a recent report, by the year 2030, nearly half of Americans are projected to be obese, which could spike medical costs to $66 billion dollars a year.

Ohio may be onto something, considering the growing body of research on child health and activity. Student fitness has also been linked to higher test scores.

While all but a handful of states have standards for physical education, only about 20 require an assessment of students' proficiency in the subject, according to the 2010 Shape of the Nation Report from the National Association for Sport and Physical Education.

With budget cuts often hindering physical education programs, including some in Ohio that are mentioned in the Dispatch story, this new assessment brings greater accountability for schools to ensure that students won't be shortchanged on physical activity during the school day.

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