A Survey of Physical Education Programs and Policies in Texas Schools

Texas teachers are supportive of mandatory physical fitness testing but not all students are cooperating.

To help understand the impact of various school physical education factors on Texas school children’s fitness, a survey was sent by e-mail to 5,651 teachers who had participated in the Texas Youth Fitness Study. The 39-part questionnaire was designed to solicit information and opinions on the five areas below, with a sampling of findings for each:

  1. Teacher demographics—More women (57%) than men (43%) responded. Ethnicity was distributed as expected across school levels (White 72%, Hispanic 16.7% and Black 8.8%).
  2. Physical education and recess—More than 75 percent of schools reported having physical education three days or more a week. There was no recess in 24 percent of elementary schools.
  3. Resources and environment—Most elementary schools reported they had a playground (90.6%) but that percentage declined for middle schools (59.6%) and high schools (52.8%), where large fields were more prevalent for activities.
  4. School physical education policies—A good proportion (64%) of schools counted physical education grades like other subjects.
  5. Experience and perception of fitness testing—Teachers supported the fitness testing and 60 percent already used fitness testing on a regular basis. Slightly more than 25 percent reported negative experiences of fitness testing, including students unwilling to participate, anxious or embarrassed.