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South Dakota Board Adopts New Phys. Ed. Standards

The South Dakota Board of Education adopted a new set of physical education standards Monday after conducting the final of four public hearings.

The new standards were based on the national standards from the American Alliance for Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance. For elementary school students, the standards focus on developing fundamental motor skills "as the foundation for movement competency," while middle schoolers focus on applying those motor skills "and improving the balance of activities to retain interest of all students." The high school standards focus primarily on "fitness/wellness, lifetime activities, and personal choice."

The standards don't prescribe particular activities students must perform in each grade; they instead highlight the skills students should obtain, allowing local teachers to set their own curricula. 

For instance, by the end of elementary school, students are expected to "demonstrate competence in fundamental motor skills and selected combinations of skills; use basic movement concepts in rhythmic activity/dance, gymnastics, and small-sided practice tasks; identify basic health-related fitness concepts; exhibit acceptance of self and others in physical activities; and identify the benefits of a physically active lifestyle." Students must engage in running, jumping, throwing, kicking, and dribbling, but the specific activities are left to the discretion of each respective physical education teacher.

By the middle school level, the new standards grow slightly more specific, but still allow freedom of choice for each particular skill set. By 8th grade, students must be able to execute "consistency a legal serve for distance and accuracy for net/wall games," with badminton, volleyball, and pickleball named as certain examples.

"The standards identify knowledge and skills students should know and be able to do and provide a framework for schools and teachers to design their own curriculum, instruction and assessments," Becky Nelson, the curriculum administrator with the state education department, told reporters back in May.

According to David Montgomery of the Argus Leader, the standards drew no opposition during the first three public hearings. (Compare that to the Common Core State Standards, which are drawing a hefty dose of public backlash in states, as my colleague Andrew Ujifusa has covered in recent months.)

While a clash over academic standards appears to be brewing on the horizon in South Dakota, physical education proved much less contentious. 

Want all the latest K-12 sports news? Follow @SchooledinSport on Twitter.

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