Illinois to lead nation with optimal physical education and health standards tied to brain research

TF_Report_Cover_5P.E. Task Force releases evidence-based recommendations and proposed revisions to P.E. and health standards

A state report released today calls for new benchmarks and strategies to improve and increase physical education classes, noting the latest neuroscience research linking physical activity with improved academic performance. State Superintendent of Education Christopher A. Koch and Dr. LaMar Hasbrouck, director of the Department of Public Health, co-chaired the Illinois Enhance Physical Education (P.E.) Task Force, which developed the 148-page report that has been submitted to Gov. Pat Quinn, the Illinois State General Assembly, and health organizations and community groups interested in turning the tide of childhood obesity and improving health for all students.

What is enhanced P.E.? Enhanced physical education is an evidence-based approach that calls for increasing the amount of time students spend in moderate to vigorous physical activity in P.E. class and has generated proven positive results.

View a chart outlining the differences between outdated P.E. and enhanced P.E. approaches.

The Illinois Enhance Physical Education Task Force reviewed extensive research showing that children who are more physically active – in P.E. class, throughout the school day and during recess – perform better in class and on standardized tests, exhibit better classroom behaviors and improve health outcomes. 

In order to increase P.E.’s return on investment for learning and health, the governor signed Public Act 97-1102 in August 2012, creating the Enhance P.E. Task Force. Per its charge, the task force proposed revisions to Goals 19-24 of the Illinois Learning Standards for Physical Development and Health, including the addition of two new standards that incorporate the latest research and best practices for achieving optimal student health and academic achievement. The Task Force also put forth a set of recommendations offering an array of strategies to enhance existing P.E. programs, including:

  • Promoting training and professional development in enhanced P.E. for teachers and other school and community stakeholders.
  • Implementing metrics to assess the impact of enhanced physical education.
  • Identifying and seeking local, state and national resources to support enhanced physical education.
  • Engaging communities.

“It’s time to value P.E. as a core subject in schools, as it plays a critical role in teaching students how to achieve optimal health and physical fitness, while increasing their ability to succeed academically,” said Elissa Bassler, task force member and CEO of the Illinois Public Health Institute. “As health advocates, we also know that better education correlates with better health, so we see this work as a win-win for both education and health.”

Read the full press release here

Read the Executive Summary here

Read the full report here.

Learn more about the recommendations during a webinar on Sept. 17th at 10am. 

Calling all teachers and after school instructors! You can start enhancing your P.E. programs right now with this new free resource: Get Fit & Flourish: Enhanced Physical Activity Manual, which provides a variety of lesson plans and activities to help students develop the skills needed for life–long physical activity. Read more.