Idaho high school graduates would be required to have two credits of physical education beginning in 2019 under a proposal going before the Idaho State Board of Education today.
High school students also would take CPR training as part of their health class, though they would not be required to pass a CPR test.
Proposed education rules also will set minimum time requirements for P.E. in elementary, middle and junior high schools.
Proposals grow out of requests from the American Heart Association and Idaho Association for Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance over concerns about obesity.
Forty-one percent of adults in the country are expected to be obese by 2015, the Heart Association estimates. Physical education reduces the risk of childhood obesity
Boise and Meridian school districts both require two credits of physical education. Nampa requires one credit. Caldwell, and 24 other Idaho school districts, has no requirement, according to data from 2011-2012, the latest numbers available from the state.
Seventy-seven percent of districts require some P.E. Education department officials estimate just a dozen teachers would have to be hired across the state to make certain there are enough P.E. teachers throughout high schools. Estimated cost: $420,000.
Students may be able to use their involvement in sports outside of school to count toward their physical education requirements. Those details have yet to be worked out.
In addition to high school requirements, the state would set a minimum of 60 minutes of physical education a week in elementary schools and 200 minutes a week in middle and junior high schools.
The proposed requirements for elementary schools is about half of that recommended as a best practice by the American Heart Association, along with the National Association of Sport and Physical Education.
“It is important to set a requirement that we believe is possible for schools and districts to achieve,” said Melissa McGrath, Education Department spokeswoman. Ninty-five percent of elementary schools already provide about 60 minutes, she said.
Time requirements for middle and junior highs would be phased from 200 minutes to 225 minutes a week over five years. Best practices suggest 225 minutes a week.
Approval by the board today would mean the plan will go out for public comment over the next three weeks before coming back to the Ed Board for final action. If it adopts the rule, then the Legislature would get to consider it. Both houses of the Legislature will have to reject the rule for it to be defeated.