Physical Education Standards Upgraded in South Dakota

Despite all of the controversy surrounding Common Core standards for English and Math, the one area parents don't mind standardization is in the gym — at least in South Dakota.

There has been no opposition from parents during the first three hearings regarding the revision of the state's physical education standards, writes David Montgomery for the Argus Leader.

The new standards could be adopted in the fall by the state Board of Education if no one objects at the fourth hearing. The standards most likely won't change much for students since each will design its own curriculum around the standards for students and there will be no testing. However, this is the first time the state will be expect students in each grade level to master specific tasks.

For example, first-grade students should be able to dribble a basketball continuously while standing still, while third-graders are supposed to dribble while jogging and fifth-graders are expected to combine dribbling with other basketball skills while moving around the court.

The lack of opposition to the new standards has to do with the fact that the standards are set by the state as opposed to national standards such as Common Core. The four-hearing process, which was set up by Representative Jim Bolin, allows people to have a say in the standards, reports Bob Mercer from the Rapid City Journal.

South Dakota isn't the only state undergoing changes to physical education standards. In California, an advocacy group, Cal200, which has the stated objective of raising awareness for physical education, is suing two districts, but has no past public presence, reports Brett Kelman for The Desert Sun.

The state education funding was scaled back a few years ago during the economic recession and physical education took one of the biggest hits. As it stands, the state law only requires districts to provide 200 minutes of physical education every 10 days, or on average 20 minutes a day.

"School districts, as a whole, tend to claim they are providing enough physical education … but as you work down through a district, you discover that less and less PE is being given," Cal2000 attorney Donald Driscoll said. "The district claims they provide (enough minutes,) then principals claim less and the teachers say even less than that. And closest you will ever get to the teachers are their lesson plans."

Schools are also trying to make PE a class that everyone one is excited to take part in, instead of only the athletically inclined students. Instead of focusing on goals and standards many schools are taking a different approach that is being referred to as "The New PE", reports Michael Alison Chandler from the Washington Post.

Instead of forcing kids to run laps as punishment and offering only one activity such as dodge ball, students can pick what activity suits them in order to encourage them to chose activities they enjoy and can pursue for a lifetime.

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