ACTIVE IN ELEMENTARY SCHOOL? AN ANALYSIS OF STATE PHYSICAL EDUCATION LAWS AND ACADEMIC ACHIEVEMENT
Stegemoeller, Ingrid L.
Childhood obesity in the United States has become a growing concern for policymakers, teachers, public health officials and parents in recent years. As leaders continue to look for ways to manage the costs and myriad challenges associated with this public health problem, educators are increasingly turning to physical education (PE) in schools as a potential solution. For decision makers interested in enacting policies that allocate more time to PE classes (thereby taking time away from traditional subjects such as mathematics and reading), studies that examine the relationship between PE class time and student academic achievement will be helpful. Using state-level panel data to estimate Ordinary Least Squares regression models with state and year fixed effects, this paper studies whether state laws addressing PE time requirements for elementary school students are related to average state mathematics test scores for fourth graders. This analysis finds no evidence of such a relationship. These results might help to reassure policymakers that students' classroom performance, at a minimum, does not appear to suffer as a result of policies addressing time spent in PE.
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