An Act to Promote Quality Physical Education
SECTION 1. Chapter 71 of the General Laws is hereby amended by striking out section 3, as appearing in the 2014 Official Edition, and inserting in place thereof the following sections:-
Section 3. (a) As used in this section, the following words shall have the following meanings:-
“Board”, the board of elementary and secondary education.
“Department'', the department of elementary and secondary education.
“Age-appropriate”, topics, messages and teaching methods suitable to particular ages or age groups of children and adolescents, based on developing cognitive, emotional and behavioral capacity typical for the age or age group.
“Physical education” is an academic subject and serves as the foundation of a Comprehensive
School Physical Activity Program (CSPAP) and, as such, demands the same education rigor as other core subjects. Physical education provides students with a planned, sequential, K-12 standards based program of curricula and instruction designed to develop motor skills, knowledge and behaviors for active living, physical fitness, sportsmanship, self-efficacy and emotional intelligence.”
“Waivers” are formal policies that allow schools and/or districts to opt out of providing state
mandated physical education. When a waiver is granted, the school district or school no longer is
required to provide students with state-mandated physical education class time or credit. State,
school district and school policy should not allow waivers for physical education class time or credit requirements for individual students.
“Exemptions” are formal notices allowing individual students to not attend or participate in
physical education class as required by state or district policy. Instead of completing physical
education courses and required credits, exempted students may participate in other academic
courses or activities such as advanced placement courses, work as a teacher’s assistant, etc. School districts and schools also sometimes allow exemptions from physical education class time or credit due to medical illness or disability. State, school district and school policy should not allow exemptions from physical education class time or credit requirements.
“Substitutions” are formal or informal policies allowing students to substitute other activities (e.g., JROTC, interscholastic sports, community sports, cheer leading, marching band) for physical education class time or credit. State, school district and school policy should prohibit students from substituting other activities for required physical education class time or credit.
(b) Physical education shall be taught as a required subject in all grades for all students in public schools or commonwealth charter schools by licensed teachers, certified in physical education to promote the physical well-being of the students. Students in the elementary schools shall participate in physical education for at least 150 minutes during each school week, and students in middle schools and high schools shall participate for at least 225 minutes per week. Physical education shall be age-appropriate and evidence-based and shall include, but not be limited to, physical activity and fitness and nutrition and wellness. Physical education shall include a focus on physical competence, health-related fitness and enjoyment of physical activity so as to benefit children physically, cognitively, emotionally and socially. There should be an emphasize on knowledge and skills for a lifetime of regular physical activity; be consistent with state and national standards for physical education that define what students should know and be able to do; devote at least 50 percent of class time to actual physical activity, that is moderate-to-vigorous in intensity; provide many different physical activity choices; feature cooperative as well as competitive games; meet the needs of all students, especially those who are not athletically gifted; take into account gender and cultural differences in students’ interests; teach self-management skills as well as movement skills; actively teach cooperation, fair play, and responsible participation in physical activity; have student/teacher ratios comparable to those in other curricular areas; promote participation in physical activity outside of school; be an enjoyable experience for students. A Physical education teaches students essential knowledge and skills; for this reason, exemptions for physical education courses shall not be permitted on the basis of punishment or disciplinary action, participation on an athletic team, community recreation program, ROTC, marching band, or other school or community activity. Students should not be allowed an exemption from physical education to prepare for other classes or standardized tests. A student may be excused if a physician states in writing that physical activity will jeopardize the students’ health and well-being or a parent/guardian requests an exemption on religious grounds. Students with disabilities should not be waived from physical education requirements, but instead should be provided with modifications or adaptions that allow physical education courses to meet the needs of disabled students. The board may promulgate regulations necessary to facilitate this section.
Section 3A. (a) School districts and schools shall be required to complete comprehensive self-assessments of their physical education programs using existing tools. The results of the assessment should be integrated into the district or school’s long-term strategic planning, School Improvement Plan, or school wellness policy, to address the quality and quantity of physical education offered. School districts and schools are required to report the findings of their assessment to parents and members of the community through typical communication channels such as websites, school newsletters, school board reports, and presentations.
(b) the commissioner of elementary and secondary education, shall conduct an evaluation of current physical education standards, practices and the instruction provided to students in grades pre-kindergarten to 12, inclusive.
The evaluation shall include, but not be limited to, the following: (1) Quantity of Physical Education Offered: (a) Amount of physical education being offered in elementary, middle, and high schools (i) Number of students taking physical education; (ii) Average class size of physical education; (iii) Number of days per year students are taking physical education; (iv) Number of class periods, blocks, or applicable measurement per week of physical education; (v) Total minutes of physical education individual students receive per week. (vi) Whether physical education is a graduation requirement in high school. (2) Physical Education Curriculum Standards (a) Whether the school/district is using a planned, K-12 sequential physical
education curriculum that adheres to national and state standards for physical
education. (i) Whether this curriculum is systematically reviewed and updated. (3) Physical Education Teacher Credentials (a). How many of the district’s physical education teachers are licensed, certified, or endorsed by an accredited teacher preparation program to teach physical education. If some teachers are not, show plans for ensuring all physical education teachers will seek these credentials, and show progress for meeting these teaching quality goals. (4) Physical Education Student Assessment (a) Whether the school/district is implementing the Presidential Youth Fitness Program or a similar program that integrates student fitness assessment, annual professional development for teachers that is specific to their field, and recognition for students who are achieving a Healthy Fitness Zone. (b) Whether they are reporting individual results to students and parents and aggregate results to the appropriate state agency. (5) Physical Education Equipment and Facilities (a). Whether physical education programs have appropriate equipment and adequate facilities for students to engage in the recommended amount and intensity of physical activity. (6) Substitutions, Waivers, Exemptions, and Adaptions (a) Whether the state allows waivers for schools/districts from the state-mandated physical education requirement, (b) Whether the school/district has applied to the state for a waiver from the state-mandated physical education requirement (c) Whether schools/districts allow student exemptions or substitutions for
physical education (d) Whether modifications or adaptions allow physical education courses to meet the needs of students with disabilities, instead of offering waivers to students with disabilities (e) Whether students are not allowed to opt out of physical education to prepare for other classes or standardized tests (7) Punishment (a) Whether a policy exists that allows teachers or administrators to withhold physical activity as punishment.
(8) Optional assessment measures include the following (a) Additional Physical Activity Opportunities (i) Whether the district has other physical activity opportunities, including Safe
Routes to School, classroom activity breaks, and club, intramural, or team sports; (b). Physical Education Student Assessment (i) Whether there are requirements for fitness, motor skills, cognitive, and affective assessment in physical education that are based on student improvement and knowledge gain. (ii). Whether physical education course grades are included in the calculation of Grade Point Averages, class rank, and academic recognition programs such as
honor roll in the same manner as other subject areas.
(c) The commissioner of elementary and secondary education shall report the results of the evaluation by filing the report with the clerks of the senate and the house of representatives who shall forward copies of the report to the chairs of the joint committee on education and the joint committee on public health not later than April 1, 2019. The commissioner of elementary and secondary education shall make appropriate recommendations based on the findings in alignment with the commission on school nutrition and childhood obesity established under section 7 of chapter 197 of the acts of 2016.
SECTION 2. Section 1 shall take effect for the 2020-2021 school year.
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