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Monnat study on elementary school physical education policies published in Preventive Medicine

Nov 30, 2014

Correlates of State Enactment of Elementary School Physical Education Laws

Shannon M. Monnat, Monica A.F. Lounsbery & Nicole J. Smith

Preventive Medicine, November 2014

Shannon Monnat

Shannon Monnat


The authors describe variation in U.S. state elementary school physical education (PE) policies and assess associations between state PE policy enactment and education funding, academic achievement, sociodemographic disadvantage, and political characteristics.

U.S. state laws regarding school PE time, staffing, curriculum, fitness assessment, and moderate-to-vigorous physical activity (MVPA) in 2012 were classified as strong/specific, weak/nonspecific, or none based on codified law ratings within the Classification of Laws Associated with School Students (C.L.A.S.S.). Laws were merged with state-level data from multiple sources. Logistic regression was used to determine associations between state characteristics and PE laws (N = 51).

The authors found laws with specific PE and MVPA time requirements and evidence-based curriculum standards were more likely in states with low academic performance and in states with sociodemographically disadvantaged populations. School day length was positively associated with enacting a PE curriculum that referenced evidence-based standards. School funding and political characteristics were not associated with PE laws.

Limited time and high-stake testing requirements force schools to prioritize academic programs, posing barriers to state passage of specific PE laws. To facilitate PE policy enactment, it may be necessary to provide evidence on how PE policies can be implemented within existing time and staffing structures.

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