Elementary physical education programs: in what ways might leaders best facilitate positive change?
The overwhelming evidence that supports coupling a healthy diet with proper exercise suggests that schools can help target the growing epidemic of childhood obesity through physical education instruction. However, because of pressure to perform well on standardized testing, a lack of funding, and limited time in the school day, physical education often does not get the attention it needs. This mixed-methods study explored the perceptions of superintendents, principals, and teachers in the area of physical education instruction. Data collected offered insight into current program quality at the time of the study, as well as ideas as to what might make physical education stronger. The results suggested that superintendents felt time, budget constraints, a lack of desired personnel, and accountability pressures in the core academic areas affected their abilities to sufficiently oversee physical education programs. Principals stated the lack of accountability by the state and district, funding, and the absence of professional development negatively affected physical education. Finally, teachers, despite having a personal connection to the subject and feeling confident they can deliver high quality instruction, stated a lack of equipment, standardized test pressure, limited time, and a lack of ongoing professional development stood in their way of providing high quality physical education instruction.