Since 2010, the Illinois Public Health Institute has been working with an array of partners and stakeholders to implement a shared vision that all Illinois K-12 students will have the opportunity to participate in daily, high-quality physical education. As part of that work, in 2012 the legislature established the Enhance P.E. Task Force, which produced a comprehensive report with recommendations to improve and increase P.E. programs throughout the state, and proposed revisions to the Illinois Learning Standards for Physical Development and Health, all based on the latest neuroscience research linking physical activity with improved academic performance.
Since that final report was released, Illinois has been moving rapidly to implement the Task Force’s recommendations in a number of ways:
- The Illinois State Board of Education adopted the Task Force’s revised P.E. standards, which will be implemented in the 2015 academic year.
- As part of its 2014 legislative agenda, the Illinois Alliance to Prevent Obesity is supporting two pieces of legislation to enhance P.E. in the state:
1) HB 5397, which would implement physical fitness testing across the state towards the goal of developing physically literate students with the skills for life-long fitness and health. The bill has passed through the House and was voted out of the Senate Education committee on May 14th.
2) SB 3274, which supports extending “highly qualified” teacher status to physical educators and health teachers. By designating “highly qualified” P.E. and health teachers, parents and advocates will have information about the qualifications of the teachers in their local schools. As of May 9th, the bill has passed both houses and awaits the Governor’s signature.
- In late April, P.E. advocates met with Shellie Pfohl, the Executive Director of the President’s Council on Fitness, Sports & Nutrition, to share information on state efforts to improve physical education and physical activity, and heard about the Council’s work to align national physical activity initiatives and support work to improve P.E. at the local level. Read more.
And in related good news – The Chicago Public Schools Office of Student Health and Wellness developed a proposed new P.E. policy which was adopted by the Chicago Board of Education in January. The policy requires Chicago Public Schools to implement daily P.E. in full by 2016.
Stay tuned for updates.