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Annals of Behavioral Medicine

, Volume 45, Supplement 1, pp 122–130 | Cite as

Physical Education and Student Activity: Evaluating Implementation of a New Policy in Los Angeles Public Schools

  • Mariah LafleurEmail author
  • Seth Strongin
  • Brian L. Cole
  • Sally Lawrence Bullock
  • Rajni Banthia
  • Lisa Craypo
  • Ramya Sivasubramanian
  • Sarah Samuels
  • Robert García
Original Article

Abstract

Background

California law has standards for physical education (PE) instruction in K-12 public schools; audits found that the Los Angeles Unified School District did not enforce the standards. In 2009, the district adopted a PE policy to comply with these standards.

Purpose

This study aimed to evaluate the outcomes of the PE policy in district schools.

Methods

PE class observations were conducted using the System for Observing Fitness Instruction Time in the 2010–2011 and 2011–2012 school years in an income-stratified random sample of 34 elementary, middle, and high schools to assess changes in PE class size, class duration, and time students spent in moderate to vigorous physical activity.

Results

PE class duration increased in high-income elementary schools. Mean class size decreased in low-income middle schools.

Conclusions

There was limited implementation of the PE policy 2 years after passage. Opportunities exist to continue monitoring and improving PE quantity and quality.

Keywords

Physical education Schools Policy Children Adolescents Physical activity 

Introduction

The health benefits of participation in regular physical activity for children and adolescents are well documented [1]. Frequent moderate to vigorous physical activity (MVPA) is associated with reduced incidence of overweight, obesity, and type II diabetes in children and adolescents and can be protective against hypertension, atherosclerosis, coronary heart disease, and cardiovascular disease in adulthood [2, 3, 4, 5]. The US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) recommends that children and adolescents participate in a minimum of 60 min of moderate or vigorous physical activity daily [6]. Additionally, developing habits, skills, and abilities to participate in regular physical activity during childhood and adolescence is associated with continued physical activity through adulthood [7].

Provision of quality physical education (PE) is recognized as the most widely available tool for promoting physical activity among children and adolescents [8]. This refers to formal school-based PE classes, which count towards mandated minimum PE minutes and adhere to other state and district regulations regarding PE. School-based PE has been found to effectively increase the duration of physical activity and physical fitness, as well as reduce blood cholesterol and time spent watching television [9]. PE can prevent excessive childhood weight gain, especially at early ages. One study found that 60 min of PE daily was associated with less weight gain 1 year later among girls in kindergarten that were overweight or at risk for overweight [10].

In addition to positive physical health outcomes, there is evidence that regular participation in physical activity is linked to enhanced brain functioning and cognition, thereby positively influencing students’ academic performance in school [11, 12]. Conversely, research shows that replacing PE with additional classroom instruction time does not improve scores on standardized academic achievement tests [13].

Research shows that children living in low-income communities and Black, Hispanic/Latino, and Native American children and adolescents tend to engage in less physical activity and experience higher rates of obesity and diabetes than their peers [14, 15]. PE has been found to be deficient for these same groups of children [14]. One of the factors that may influence these disparities is a lack of sufficient venues for physical activity within many of the communities in which these children live [16]. Increasing the quantity and quality of PE that children from low-income families and children of color receive has the potential to increase physical activity and reduce adverse health outcomes for these children.

Los Angeles Unified School District Physical Education Interventions

The Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) is the largest district in California and the second largest in the nation, serving more than 660,000 K-12 students in over 900 schools [17]. Ninety percent of the students in the district are African American, Hispanic/Latino, Asian, or Filipino, and 74 % qualify for free or reduced-price meals (FRPM) [18]. In 2011, 58 % of fifth graders, 53 % of seventh graders, and 49 % of ninth graders in LAUSD did not fall into the healthy fitness zone for body composition, which means that they are at an unhealthy weight [19]. These percentages are higher than those in nearby school districts, such as Long Beach Unified School District, in which 53 % of fifth graders, 43 % of seventh graders, and 36 % of ninth graders are at an unhealthy weight. They are also higher than the state averages, in which 48 % of fifth graders, 45 % of seventh graders, and 41 % of ninth graders are at an unhealthy weight. During the 2008–2009 school year, 75 % of LAUSD students failed to pass all portions of the California state-administered FITNESSGRAM® test, which measures aerobic capacity, body composition, and flexibility, and tests strength of the abdominals, trunk extensor, and upper body [20].

California state law addresses PE quantity by requiring schools to provide 200 min of PE instruction by a qualified teacher every 10 school days for students in grades 1 through 6 and 400 min of PE instruction by a qualified teacher every 10 days for students in grades 7 through 10 [21]. California Education Code 51210.2 governs PE teacher qualifications, which may influence PE quality, by requiring credentials for specialists or additional training for multiple subject teachers.

The California Department of Education audited PE in LAUSD each school year from 2004–2005 to 2007–2008, and each audit found that the district did not enforce the PE minute requirements [22]. In response to an organized advocacy campaign, LAUSD adopted a policy in December 2009 requiring schools to comply with and implement California state PE laws and guidelines, including the California Education Code and the Physical Education Model Content Standards for California Public Schools, Kindergarten Through Grade Twelve (“Model Content Standards”), as well as civil rights laws, by fall of 2011 [23]. Table 1 outlines the PE factors addressed by the LAUSD Policy, California Education Code, California Model Content Standards, and other national standards and guidelines around PE.
Table 1

Factors addressed in PE laws, policies, and guidelines applicable to LAUSD

Laws, policies and guidelines

Minimum instruction minutes

Maximum minutes per class

Increased MVPAa

Specific % of time in MVPAa

Class size

Teacher training

Facilities and equipment

Instructional content

Exemptions, waivers

Title IX of Ed. Amdts. of 1972 and regulations thereunder (gender equity)

Title VI of Civil Rights Act of 1964 and regulations thereunder (racial equity)

Cal. Gov. Code section 11135 and regulations thereunder (racial equity)

LAUSD policy bulletin 2528.1 (2009)

Mandatory

X

   

X

X

 

X

X

X

X

X

Calif. Ed. code (see sections 51210, 51222, 51223)

Mandatory

X

    

X

  

X

   

California model content standards for physical education (2005)

Recommended

  

X

    

X

    

Physical Ed. framework for California public schools (2009)

Recommended

       

X

    

AHEPERD/NASPE national standards for physical education

Recommended

X

X

X

X

X

X

X

X

X

   

Federal guidelines:

1. Physical activity guidelines for children and adolescents

Recommended

   

X

 

X

 

X

    

2. Strategies to improve the quality of physical education

The campaign in LAUSD was organized by a diverse coalition of teachers, parents, community activists, health advocates, attorneys, and school officials that began working together in 2007 [24]. Participants in the campaign utilized social science research documenting the value of PE and of health and fitness disparities, as well as legal analyses of the education code and civil rights laws, to support and develop a PE policy that requires district schools to meet California state PE minute requirements, provide properly credentialed PE instructors, maintain reasonable class size averages, and provide quality facilities for PE [25].

To track changes in PE quantity and quality as the policy is being implemented in schools throughout the district, the research team evaluated class duration as a measure of PE quantity and class size and MVPA as indicators of PE quality. Among the elements of quality PE specified in California’s Model Content Standards, weekly MVPA is listed; however, there are no specific state or district requirements for the amount of physical activity during each PE class. On the other hand, both the National Association for Sports and Physical Education (NASPE) and USHHS recommend that PE classes provide students the opportunity to participate in MVPA for at least 50 % of each class period (Table 1) [7, 26]. Students’ on-task participation is also reflected in the average level of MVPA over the duration of a class period. Other indicators of PE quality, such as pedagogical techniques [27, 28], were not included in the scope of this study. This study evaluates the outcomes of a school district-level PE policy in LAUSD to identify whether PE quantity and quality are changing as the policy is being implemented.

Methods

Approval to conduct the evaluation was granted by San Diego State University’s Institutional Review Board, as well as LAUSD’s Committee for External Research Review. The evaluation team conducted one round of PE assessments in a stratified random sample of LAUSD schools in fall and winter of 2010–2011 to track progress toward implementation in the first school year after the PE policy was passed. They returned to the same schools in fall and winter of 2011–2012 to conduct a second round of PE assessments to evaluate further implementation, outcomes, and sustainability.

Sample

Since both grade level and socioeconomic status are known to affect the outcomes of interest [15, 29], stratified random sampling was used to select schools for this study. District officials worked with project staff to identify an original list of 860 K-12 schools that were subject to the district’s new PE requirements. Excluded from this list of eligible schools for study were charter schools, “community day schools” for high-risk youth, continuation schools, preschools, and adult schools. Based on the three grade levels in which the FITNESSGRAM® assessment is conducted (fifth, seventh, and ninth grades), eligible schools were classified into three grade levels: elementary if they had fifth grade instruction, middle if they had seventh grade instruction, or high if they had ninth grade instruction; schools that had two of these grade levels (i.e., fifth and seventh grades) were removed from the list. This classification resulted in 442 elementary schools, 87 middle schools, and 82 high schools. This list was then stratified into quintiles using percentage of student eligible for FRPM as a proxy for aggregate income. In each quintile of FRPM eligibility, there were 88 elementary schools, 17 middle schools, and 16 high schools. The sampling frame included schools in the top and bottom quintiles within each grade level based on their percentage of students eligible for FRPM. From each of the resulting six strata, the research team randomly selected six schools and two alternatives in case of refusal.

The research team sent a letter to principals from the sampled schools requesting permission to observe PE classes on their campus. They then attempted to call the schools up to six times to further explain the purpose of the assessments, answer any questions, and schedule observations. Class observations were generally scheduled through school principals or designated staff members, such as the chair of the PE department in secondary schools.

Physical Education Class Observations

Trained assessors observed four PE classes in each school; in most schools, the four classes were observed over the course of two different days. The two observation days were generally consecutive or within the same week, and assessors tried to observe different teachers whenever possible. Observations began in each class once the students and teacher were congregated and the class was called to order. A modification of the System for Observing Fitness Instruction Time (SOFIT) instrument [30] was used to assess physical activity levels. Following the standard SOFIT protocol, four students that were deemed proportionally representative of the class in terms of gender, race or ethnicity, and weight were observed on a rotating basis throughout the class period. During observation, the assessor recorded the intensity of the target student’s physical activity every 10 seconds according to a four-point scale: sitting or lying down (code 1), standing (code 2), moderate (e.g., brisk walk; code 3), or vigorous (e.g., run; code 4). For the analysis, MVPA included intervals with intensity codes 3 and 4. These codes have been validated using heart rate monitoring and accelerometry [31, 32, 33]. Assessors were trained by experienced evaluators to use the SOFIT following a standard protocol, which included understanding sampling conventions, memorizing coding definitions, and conducting multiple practice observations prior to collecting actual PE class data. To ensure consistency across observations, assessors conducted side-by-side observations until coding definitions were equal. They did not conduct an actual quantitative inter-rater reliability test, though. While conducting the class observation using the SOFIT, assessors also documented class content, length, and size, as well as the gender and observed race or ethnicity of students in each class.

Analysis

All observational data were entered into a Census and Survey Processing System database and analyzed using the Statistical Package for the Social Sciences software. The analysis compared outcome means at baseline and follow-up for observed classes within each stratum. One-way analysis of variance between groups (baseline vs. follow-up and grade level) was used to assess the statistical significance (p value of the F test) of differences between mean values of PE class duration, class size, and percent of class time engaged in MVPA. Stratum-specific significance for changes in class size was assessed using Fisher’s exact test in the low- and high-income strata. One-sided tests assess the hypothesis that class size decreased from time 1 to time 2 in a given stratum. Two-sided tests assess the hypothesis that there was a change in a given stratum.

Results

School Participation

Of the 36 schools originally selected for participation, none of the schools declined outright, but several schools did not return phone calls or repeatedly postponed scheduling of class observations. Among those not returning phone calls or postponing scheduling were three high-income elementary schools and one low-income middle school. Two low-income elementary schools initially appeared unwilling to participate, so two alternates were randomly selected. Subsequently, however, the two schools in the original sample agreed to participate, resulting in eight rather than six low-income elementary schools and a total of 34 schools assessed (Table 2). Since school principals or designated staff members generally scheduled classes for observations, the number of teachers declining observation in participating schools is unknown.
Table 2

Characteristics of sample schools compared to LAUSD schools

 

Low income subsamplea

High income subsampleb

All schools in sample

LAUSDc

Number of schools

Elementary

8

3

11

443

Middle

6

6

12

87

High

5

6

11

92

Number of students

Elementary

5,764

1,358

7,122

274,193

Middle

8,983

9,130

18,113

120,408

High

16,542

21,106

37,648

152,507

FRPL eligibility (%)

Elementary

95

52

83

77

Middle

92

50

69

77

High

87

48

65

74

Ethnicity (%)d

African American

11

12

11

10

Asian

1

7

4

4

Latino/Hispanic

86

48

69

72

White, non-Hispanic

1

26

12

10

Overweight/obese (%)e

5th grade

45

38

43

38

7th grade

45

29

37

38

9th grade

41

31

36

38

Meets FITNESSGRAM® aerobic fitness standard (%)

5th grade

52

51

52

61

7th grade

51

66

59

57

9th grade

46

68

58

57

aLow-income schools randomly selected from among the bottom quintile of LAUSD schools at each level (elementary: grades 1–5, middle: grades 6–8, and high: grades 9–12), based on percentage of students eligible for FRPM

bHigh-income schools randomly selected from among the top quintile of LAUSD schools at each level (elementary: grades 1–5, middle: grades 6–8, and high: grades 9–12), based on percentage of students eligible for FRPM. Classification as “high income” is relative, since the majority of families of enrolled students in even the “high socioeconomic status” schools would be classified as lower income by national standards

cCount of LAUSD schools excludes 239 schools that were either charter schools or not traditional elementary, middle, or high schools, such as “day schools” for special needs students, charter schools, and continuation schools

dSum of ethnicities shown in the table is <100 % since Native American, Pacific Islander, multiple, and other are not shown

eClassification as overweight or obese based on FITNESSGRAM® classification as not in healthy fitness zone for body composition on the FITNESSGRAM®. Percent not meeting standard due to underweight is assumed to be negligible. Test results from spring 2010

Table 2 provides a summary of the characteristics of the schools included in the sample as well as the entire population of LAUSD. Statistical differences between low- and high-income schools or the sample population and LAUSD were not calculated, but it provides contextual information and reflects the range of diversity and income within the sample schools and LAUSD. The schools included in the final sample had similar demographics to LAUSD as a whole. Participating schools categorized in the lower-income quintile had a very high percentage of students qualifying for FRPM. These schools also tended to have a higher percentage of Latino/Hispanic students and a lower percentage of White, non-Hispanic, and Asian students when compared to higher-income schools, though racial and ethnic composition did not factor into the selection or categorization of schools. Even in schools in the higher-income quintile, a majority of enrolled students qualified for FRPM and were Latino/Hispanic or African American. In low-income schools, an average of 45 % of fifth graders, 45 % of seventh graders, and 41 % of ninth graders were overweight or obese, and in high-income schools, an average of 38 % of fifth graders, 29 % of seventh graders, and 31 % of ninth graders were overweight or obese, as measured by the FITNESSGRAM®. In low-income schools, an average of 52 % of fifth graders, 51 % of seventh graders, and 46 % of ninth graders were aerobically fit, and in high-income schools, an average of 51 % of fifth graders, 66 % of seventh graders, and 68 % of ninth graders were aerobically fit, as measured by the FITNESSGRAM® (Table 2).

Class Size

In general, class size held steady or decreased by a small, less than statistically significant, margin. Comparing the numbers of classes that exceeded the size cap of 45 students per class, only low-income middle schools had a statistically significant decrease, dropping from 50 to 20 % of classes exceeding the class size cap (p = 0.039) (Table 3).
Table 3

Class size at time 1 vs. time 2 stratified by school level and school income

 

Mean class size, mean (SD)

Classes >45 students, % (n/N)

Time 1

Time 2

p value

Time 1

Time 2

Significancea

One-sided

Two-sided

Elementary school

Low income

31.5

27.7

0.449

14.3 %

4.3 %

0.225

(19.2)

(18.1)

5/35

1/22

0.386

High income

29.8

20.7

0.073

11.1 %

0 %

0.500

(13.9)

(3.2)

1/9

0/9

1.000

Middle school

Low income

45.0

38.9

0.057

50.0 %

20.0 %

0.039

(9.6)

(11.1)

12/24

4/20

0.060

High income

48.0

48.7

0.849

63.6 %

61.9 %

0.578

(13.9)

(12.0)

14/22

13/21

1.000

High school

Low income

34.0

59.7

0.224

20.0 %

27.8 %

0.427

(13.9)

(91.9)

4/20

5/18

0.709

High income

44.3

44.4

0.963

39.1 %

40.0 %

0.593

(14.8)

(11.6)

9/23

10/25

1.000

aStratum-specific significance for changes in count data were assessed using Fischer’s exact test. One-sided test assess the hypothesis that class size decreased from time 1 to time 2 in a given strata. Two-sided tests assess the hypothesis that there was a change

Class Duration and Frequency

The mean duration of PE class increased in varying degrees across all strata of school level and income from time 1 to time 2. The mean duration of middle and high school classes ranged from 37.3 to 43.5 min at time 1 and saw modest increases of 1.5 to 7 min at time 2. These increases were statistically significant only in high-income elementary schools where class duration increased almost 10 min from 27.6 min in time 1 to 37.4 min per class in time 2 (p = 0.049). PE classes in elementary schools were generally shorter in duration than PE classes in middle and high schools (Table 4).
Table 4

Class duration and percent of class time engaged in MVPA at time 1 vs. time 2 stratified by school level and school income

 

Duration of PE class mean minutes (SD)

% class time in MVPA (SD)

Time 1

Time 2

p value

Time 1

Time 2

p value

Elementary school

Low income

31.7 (16.1)

35.7 (14.9)

0.343

30.9 % (8.2)

30.6 % (11.3)

0.911

High income

27.6 (2.8)

37.4 (13.6)

0.049

31.1 % (10.5)

32.3 % (12.2)

0.825

Middle school

Low income

42.3 (10.2)

47.3 (18.1)

0.256

43.3 % (19.3)

46.3 % (20.2)

0.613

High income

37.5 (6.6)

41.5 (20.1)

0.374

43.0 % (16.8)

42.5 % (16.2)

0.915

High school

Low income

43.5 (14.1)

46.4 (18.1)

0.584

47.6 % (21)

31.9 % (16.5)

0.015

High income

39.3 (9.3)

45.6 (15.6)

0.101

46.1 % (16.9)

46.2 % (17.4)

0.992

Due to class periods organized by a bell schedule, all middle and high schools had PE every day, except for three schools that held classes for extended periods of time every other day in block schedules. Assessing the frequency of elementary PE classes was more challenging because multisubject teachers taught the majority of those classes observed in this study, and these teachers have more discretion over whether to provide PE on any individual day. Based on teacher reports conducted at time 1, elementary classes participated in PE classes on an average of two times per week.

Percent of Class Time in MVPA

The mean percentage of PE class time spent in MVPA ranged from 30 to 47 % across all groups. The percent of class time in MVPA ranged from 30.6 to 32.3 % in elementary schools, from 42.5 to 46.3 % in middle schools, and from 31.9 to 47.6 % in high schools. The only statistically significant change in percent of PE class time spent in MVPA between time 1 and time 2 was a decrease of MVPA in low-income high schools (Table 4) from 47.6 to 31.9 % of the class period (p = 0.015).

Discussion

The data show that some modest improvements were observed from time 1 (2010–2011 school year) to time 2 (2011–2012 school year), but indicate that the LAUSD PE policy has not been fully implemented yet throughout the district. The increase in PE class duration in some elementary schools from time 1 to time 2 indicates positive progress toward meeting the minutes required by the LAUSD PE policy and California state law. Middle and high schools across income strata generally met the PE minute requirements at time 1 and continued to meet these requirements in time 2. There is no evidence of changes to the fixed bell schedules secondary schools operate on, but there was a slight, but not statistically significant, increase in observed class time in these schools at time 2. This may suggest that more minutes were spent in PE instruction time rather than in class preparation, such as changing into PE uniforms.

Smaller class sizes were observed in some schools between time 1 and time 2, most notably in low-income middle schools. This indicates a trend that, as the policy is being implemented throughout the district, positive changes required by the policy may be taking place. The persistence of large classes of more than 45 students in some middle and high schools, however, raises concerns because some research shows that larger PE classes are negatively associated with physical activity levels [34]. Similarly, in this evaluation, low-income high schools were the only strata to have shown an increase in mean class size (although it was not statistically significant due to a small sample size) and they also had a statistically significant decrease in MVPA. The decrease in MVPA, an indicator of PE quality, raised concerns because this effort was to expand PE quantity and quality in low-income schools.

The mean percentage of class time that students in LAUSD are spending in MVPA is similar to findings from other studies. Assessments using both accelerometry and the SOFIT have repeatedly found that 35–40 % of PE class time is spent in MVPA in both primary and secondary grade levels [35, 36, 37, 38]. These studies, as well as the elementary, middle, and high school mean percentages in LAUSD, fall short of the HHS Healthy People 2020 recommendations that students engage in MVPA at least 50 % of class time [6].

At both points in time, the percent of class time spent in MVPA in middle and high schools was higher compared to elementary schools. This may be attributable to the fact that secondary school classes observed were taught predominantly by instructors with specialized training and credentials in PE instruction, while the observed elementary school classes were more commonly taught by classroom teachers. Although an assessment of the impact of teacher training on percent of class time spent in MVPA is outside the scope of this study, the disparity in MVPA between elementary and secondary schools suggests that the influence of teacher training on PE quality should be investigated further.

In addition, while the LAUSD PE policy requires quality PE and implementation of the Model Content Standards that include MVPA, the policy does not explicitly require minimum percentages of class time in MVPA. Similarly, state law does not require minimum percentages of class time in MVPA. The lack of statistically significant improvements in percent of class time spent in MVPA suggests that specifically defining percentage of class time in MVPA might increase the amount of time students participate in health-promoting levels of physical activity.

This evaluation provides valuable insights into changes in PE quantity and quality during the initial 2 years of implementation of the district’s policy. The results of this study show some promising trends, but further monitoring and study is necessary to determine the long-term effects of the PE policy. The results suggest that the LAUSD policy has not been fully implemented in all schools throughout the district despite a requirement that schools implement the policy by no later than fall 2011. This may be an indication that, irrespective of the effectiveness of the policy, the time frame for implementation was insufficient, particularly given the large size of the district and the budget cuts the district was facing during the same time period. Follow-up has not been done with school principals or PE instructors to determine how and when they would be able to fully comply with the policy requirements.

Past evaluations of laws or policies to improve PE have found some positive impacts [39, 40], but these assessments in LAUSD contribute to the evidence that a more recent focus on standardized testing outcomes and budgetary constraints due to the economic downturn may be hindering the implementation of newer state or district policies aimed at improving PE. A more recent evaluation of school-based childhood obesity policies in Tennessee and Mississippi ending in 2009 that included observations on school sites found that funding constraints and prioritization of standardized test scores over PE negatively impacted policy implementation [41].

Supporting the LAUSD PE policy with additional resources may have a stronger influence on changes in PE quantity and quality. Providing schools with instructors that specialize in PE may improve the quantity and quality of PE. Ongoing teacher training, particularly for multisubject teachers at the elementary level, could also play an important role.

This study provides feedback that the district can use to adjust its implementation of the PE policy moving forward. Recommendations include developing strategies for reliably communicating the policy to all school administrators and teachers and providing support to principals and teachers for implementing the policy at individual schools. Establishing protocols for enforcing compliance with the policy and state laws is also critical. On a long-term basis, parents, local community members, and teachers may be better positioned to monitor the quantity and quality of PE than professional evaluators and should be trained and enabled to do so.

The results of this study provide evidence that translating research and legal analyses into a PE policy may influence changes in PE quantity and quality. The policy was one of several outcomes of the work of a multidisciplinary coalition of teachers, parents, community activists, health advocates, attorneys, and school officials. The PE campaign broadened awareness of the importance of PE among a range of stakeholders. Adopting and implementing the PE policy helped emphasize that PE is a priority in LAUSD and that compliance with the law is important. The PE policy demonstrates that multidisciplinary teams can use research and analyses to successfully produce and implement district-level policies that impact students.

There are several limitations to this study. LAUSD adopted the policy in December 2009, and observations under this study began in October 2010. As a result, it was not possible to collect data before the policy went into effect for a true pre- and post-comparison. It is, therefore, difficult to determine the causal link of the policy on the observed schools. This study, however, does track changes in PE quantity and quality during the implementation period because data collection began as the policy was rolling out and prior to the fall 2011 implementation deadline stated in the policy. Observations at each school were also limited to only four classes each at times 1 and 2, and assessors observed only teachers who agreed to participate. Assessors only used one methodology, SOFIT, to assess physical activity during PE, and they did not assess other sources of physical activity during the school day. Continued research on the effects of the policy is necessary to further assess the outcomes of the policy, including the effect of the PE policy based on race, ethnicity, and national origin of student populations. Further evaluation of physical activity and PE across income groups and urban, suburban, and rural communities would also inform existing knowledge.

This study shows that the PE policy has been partially implemented and may have contributed to some modest improvements of PE in some schools. Further work needs to be done to fully implement the PE policy and prioritize physical activity and health across the district.

Notes

Acknowledgments

This study was funded by two separate grants awarded through Active Living Research, a program office of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. The authors would like to thank Nicole Griffin and Morgan Jones for the data collection, Samantha Ngo, Sheb Myers, and Kristina Harootun for the data entry, and the participating schools and teachers who made this study possible.

Conflicts of Interest

The authors declare they have no conflict of interest to disclose.

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Copyright information

© The Society of Behavioral Medicine 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Mariah Lafleur
    • 1
    Email author
  • Seth Strongin
    • 2
  • Brian L. Cole
    • 3
  • Sally Lawrence Bullock
    • 1
  • Rajni Banthia
    • 1
  • Lisa Craypo
    • 1
  • Ramya Sivasubramanian
    • 2
  • Sarah Samuels
    • 1
  • Robert García
    • 2
  1. 1.Samuels & AssociatesOaklandUSA
  2. 2.The City ProjectLos AngelesUSA
  3. 3.School of Public HealthUniversity of California, Los AngelesLos AngelesUSA

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