Beginning this fall, students throughout Chicago will see significant increases to their physical education programs – a change experts say could improve overall health and boost academic performance.
The Chicago Board of Education this week approved a new District-wide PE policy that triples the amount of time elementary school students spend exercising while ensuring that all high school students meet their requirements for physical education. The cost of this expansion will be offset by $21.5 million in surplus TIF funds, which will fund nearly 170 teaching positions in both PE and the arts.
“Arts and Physical Education are fundamentally important to a child’s ability to learn and grow, and are critical components of a well-rounded 21st-Century education,” said CPS CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett. “By incorporating more robust arts and physical education programming into the daily curriculum, we will help boost student achievement, while also placing our students on the right track for healthy living and bright futures in college, career and life.”
Recent studies illustrate that high-quality physical education can have a profound impact on both student health and academic achievement. Benefits include:
- Improved Brain Function: Physically active students score higher in reading comprehension with just 20 minutes of physical activity per day.
- Improved Test Scores: Active students score higher on standardized tests.
- Improved Behavior: Suspensions and disciplinary action decrease by 50-60% when PE is offered five days a week.
- Improved Health: Regular physical activity leads to lower incidence of disease and improved mental health.
Currently, due to a state waiver that has been maintained by the District since 1997, CPS students in grades 11 and 12 are not required to participate in daily PE. In concurrence with the new PE policy, this waiver will not be renewed after it expires in June 2014. High school principals will be required to schedule all students in daily PE beginning in SY 14-15, and elementary and middle school students will now receive 30 minutes of physical education per day, or the equivalent of 150 minutes each week.
The expansion of District PE programs ties directly into Pillar 1 of the CEO’s 5-year action plan, which calls for a rigorous curriculum that recognizes physical education as a core subject. By strengthening and improving standards for physical education, CPS hopes to become a national model and leader for embracing the importance of health and wellness among all children.