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Physical Education & Physical Activity Advocacy Close to Home. Advocacy strategies to make a difference in your school & district. Julie Jahn, Eastern Michigan University Angie Scott, Dexter High School (Michigan) Tony Moreno, Eastern Michigan University. AAHPERD 2013. Our Focus Today.

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Physical Education & Physical Activity Advocacy Close to Home

Advocacy strategies to make a difference in your school & district

Julie Jahn, Eastern Michigan University

Angie Scott, Dexter High School (Michigan)

Tony Moreno, Eastern Michigan University


Our Focus Today

Advocacy strategies at the local level:

Program, school, & district

  • Levels of advocacy

  • A teacher who didn’t take “cut” for an answer

  • What do administrators have to say?

  • Making a platform to stand on

  • You advocacy efforts, successes

What can “policy” mean?

Levels of Advocacy (as they could relate to PE/PA)

Advocacy: National Level

  • What

    • Federal law

    • Best practice recommendation

    • National awareness & publicity

  • Examples of how

    • NASPE Speak Out! Day

    • Contacting congressional representative

    • Testimony at Congressional committee meeting

  • Target Audience

    • Congressional representatives

    • Educational committee representatives

    • Directors/executives of national organizations

    • Mainstream audience

  • Who

    • NASPE lobbyists

    • Everyone who has a stake in PE/PA efforts

    • You

Advocacy: State Level

  • What

    • State mandate or Dept. of Education requirement

    • State situation awareness & publicity

  • Examples of how

    • State-level legislative day

    • Contacting state legislative representatives & committee members

    • Department of Education policy

    • Testimony at congressional or committee meetings

  • Target Audience

    • State legislators

    • Educational committee representative

    • State Department of Education

    • State Superintendent

    • Governor

  • Who

    • State AHPERD organizations

    • Other PA-related supporting organizations

    • Everyone who has a stake in PE/PA efforts

    • You

Advocacy: District Level

  • What

    • District requirement

      • In supplement of state requirement

  • Examples of how

    • Communication with Superintendents & district office on policy gaps

    • Communication with curriculum directors on what is being taught

    • Speaking at school board meetings & forums

  • Target Audience

    • Superintendent(s)

    • Curriculum director

    • School Board

    • Parents

    • Community (taxpayers)

  • Who

    • State AHPERD organizations

    • Other PA-related supporting organizations

    • Everyone who has a stake in PE/PA efforts

    • You

Advocacy: School/site Level

  • What

    • Practice or implementation

  • Examples of how

    • Communication with school administration on program needs

    • Sharing improvement data

    • Promotion of events, successes, & needs

  • Target Audience

    • Principal(s)

    • Deans, counselors, or registrars

    • Other teachers

    • Kids

  • Who

    • Everyone who has a stake in PE/PA efforts

    • You

Who are these policy makers & what kinds of policy are they responsible for?

School Level

District Level


District policies

District budget

Performance standards

School Board

Voice of school community

Local influence on policies

  • Principals

    • School-based decisions

    • In-school budget

    • Scheduling

    • Class sizes

    • Programming

    • Department chairs

      • What is taught

      • Content-area policies

      • Advocate for the department

Angie’s Advocacy Story:A teacher who refused to accept a cut to HS Physical Education

Angie Scott—Physical Educator,

Dexter High School, Michigan

Take a few minutes to jot down a few notes to answer the top two questions

Advocacy Notes + Plans:

Words from Administrators:Getting to know the people calling the shots

Julie Jahn, Assistant Professor

Eastern Michigan University


How was this study conducted?

  • Extracting descriptive data & understanding meaning (interpretive approach)

    • What meaning do policy makers attach to PE/PA-related policy?

    • Uncovering where these policy makers’ perspectives come from

    • How does this perspective & the individual’s role impact what happens in schools related to PE/PA?

  • Making assertions

    • Common themes & supporting data

  • Giving policy makers a voice

    • Sharing their perspective & what PA means to them


Who was involved in this study?

Twelve school & district policy makers

  • Physical Education teachers (2)

    • One from each of two participating schools

  • Physical Education Department Chairs (2)

    • One from each of two participating school settings

  • Principals (3)

    • One assistant level from the larger participating school

    • One from each of two participating school settings

  • District superintendents (3)

    • One associate from the larger participating district

    • One from each of two participating districts

  • School board members (2)

    • One member from each of two participating district school board

Setting: District & School A

Southern Butte HS

Sunset Union HS District

Greater metropolitan area

Southwest U.S.

13,000 high school students served

89% district graduation rate

2 semesters of required Physical Education

Waivers/substitutions allowed

  • 2,500 students

  • Ethnically diverse student body

  • “Excelling” academic profile

Setting: District & School B

Windy Plains HS

Gateway School District

Upper-middle class suburban/rural area

Southwest U.S

Strong academic/arts emphasis

2 semesters of required Physical Education

Waivers/substitutions allowed

  • 1,500 students enrolled

  • “Excelling” academic profile

  • Third year enrolling students

    • First time enrolling 9-12th grades

Methods: Data Collection


  • Interview 1

    • Informal, gaining rapport

    • Understanding the role of the policy maker

  • Interview 2

    • Drawing attention to Physical Education & physical activity policies at various levels

    • Their perspectives & knowledge

  • Interview 3

    • Specific school/district PA policies

    • Barriers & facilitators to implementation of PA

Methods: Data Collection

Archive Analysis

  • Learning opportunity

  • Stimulate discussion

  • Background information of districts, schools

  • Examples:

    • District Physical Education requirements

    • District Wellness Policy

    • PA-related promotional documents

    • PA-program documentation

    • State PA/Physical Education requirements

    • National PA/Physical Education recommendations

Methods: Data Analysis

How will the data be interpreted?

  • Constant comparison technique

    • Cross-cases (within each series)

    • Grouping cases, categorizing, asserting

  • Concluding each interview

    • Immediate transcription

    • Initial coding

    • Application to next interview in the series

  • Concluding each series

    • Categories & themes

    • Assertions supported by data examples

Data Trustworthiness

  • Expert peer review

    • Colleague experienced with this population

    • Methods, interview prompts, collected archives

  • Clarification of researcher bias

    • Per interview series

  • Member checks

    • Second & third interviews in each series

  • External audit

    • Impartial colleague

    • Leading topics in interview schedules/prompts

    • Data transcripts (leading questions)

    • Themes

    • Assertions & evidence examples

Researcher Bias

Acknowledging & Minimizing

  • Self-checks

    • Memos/journaling

    • Not expecting the worst

    • Policy makers’ meanings, not my pre-supposed guesses

  • Create opportunities to better understand the role & responsibilities of each local policy maker

    • Building relationships by listening

    • Increase understanding non-PA school policies

  • Regular consultation with external auditor

Findings relevant to PE/PA advocacy

Insight #1

School and district policy makers have a varied, and sometimes minimal grasp on PE/PA policies at all levels.

Knowledge of National PE/PA Policies

  • PE has a national professional organization (AAHPERD)

  • PE has national standards

  • PE time requirements

  • PA time requirements

  • Schools’ roles

  • Let’s Move

  • District wellness policy

  • PA & academic performance

Interview Excerpts from National Policy Questions

“No, I haven’t seen a Physical Education piece since the Kennedy era.” (Superintendent when asked about a recent Act in U.S. Congress)

“We’ve had an administrative change, and a lot of other things going on, so it might have gotten lost in the shuffle.” (School board member on district wellness committee)

Knowledge of State PE/PA Policies

  • No state PE requirement

  • % of schools with daily PE

  • Student:teacher ratio mandates

  • Teacher certification

  • Curriculum or assessment

Knowledge of Local/District PE/PA Policies

  • PE grad requirements

  • Substitutions & waivers

  • Curriculum & assessments

Findings relevant to PE/PA advocacy

Insight #2

Local policy makers don’t hear much information about PE/PA policy unless it happens to be from mass media.

Sources of Knowledge for Known Policies

Findings relevant to PE/PA advocacy

Insight #3

The expectation of who has the responsibility of staying up-to-date (and sharing) PE/PA policy knowledge is disconnected in the school and district hierarchy.

What higher levels of policy makers want

School Board Members



  • “We always tell people who study things to actually give us options and we discuss it.” (School board member)

  • “I’ve found that if you can just try to give them a perspective…most of them will give you the time of day and will try to do what they think is best.” (Superintendent when asked about the school board)

  • “As an administrator, you’re constantly doing five things at once. So when it comes to knowing PE, for example, I have to rely on the Physical Education people to educate me on what’s going on in their area” (Assistant principal)

What lower levels of policy makers want

PE Department Chairs

PE Teachers

“We never hear anything…and there’s zero feedback. I think of all the [educational] legislation, and even if it doesn’t have to do with PE, I think they need to do a better job of informing teachers.” (PE teacher)

When informed of administrators’ desires for content-level department chairs to have the responsibility of updating them with policy:

“That’s bull****. I think that’s good in theory, but our department chair is just as busy as our principal.”

(PE teacher)

“No one has time to be looking up legislation.”(PE teacher)

Findings relevant to PE/PA advocacy

Insight #4

PE waivers and substitutions are here unless the program can show us they are doing something better.

Findings relevant to PE/PA advocacy

Insight #4

“It would take a really good exchange with PE not to do that anymore.

You can’t just describe it; I’d have to see it.”

(School board member in response to what it would take to take away the PE waiver policy)

= data that shows students are learning

Findings relevant to PE/PA advocacy

Insight #5

School board members enjoy seeing the students’ benefit from a good program with their own eyes.

Findings relevant to PE/PA advocacy

Insight #5

“Always, always bring the students. Because they are key. Pointing out kids and what they were doing before and what they’re having the opportunity to do…It’s those things that make board members smile.”

Findings relevant to PE/PA advocacy

Insight #5

They may not be able to come the first 100 times you ask, but even being asked to visit a class or event makes a difference.

Findings relevant to PE/PA advocacy

Insight #5

“So you should invite the board members. And not just ‘come sometime,’ but send them an invitation and make it easy and specific.

…I can’t make it every time they say that, but when you do, and I just sit in the audience…and swell with pride like they’re my own kids.”

Findings relevant to PE/PA advocacy

Insight #6

Learn the policy process because you need to have a realistic expectation of the persistence you’ll need to exert.

Findings relevant to PE/PA advocacy

Insight #6

“And another thing I’ve learned about policies is you can’t just sort of recommend or do overnight…if I was the president and could set the agenda, but if you’re on a committee and they don’t meet, so you’re screwed.” (School board member when asked what is the timeline for change if she really was in favor of something)

“You get bounced around a lot here unless you’ll find someone that will just trail blaze and do it.”

(PE Teacher/Dept. chair when asked about the process of who to talk to about a policy issue).

Findings relevant to PE/PA advocacy

Insight #7

We know you don’t have a lot of time to do this all on your own, so ask for help.

It is our job at the university to know, understand, & interpret policy, research, and updates to share them with schools.

Findings relevant to PE/PA advocacy

Insight #7

“You have to have strong support. You’d have to probably bring in a professor or two from a local university to persuade the school board to open it up again…

…The problem is that people like myself and the everyday school teacher, we have so much on our plate—you know we dream about these things and all these battles and which battles do you fight?”

Findings relevant to PE/PA advocacy

Insight #7

You have to be strong enough to pick the battles that should be picked.

1 What makes your program irreplaceable or “un-cutable”?2 How do you show your students are learning?3 With whom/how do you share that data/

Defining Your Role

With the person next to you, take a minute to describe what your role is as a physical educator?

Why do youth need to be “physically” educated?

What does it mean to “educate”?

  • What is “Physical Education”?

  • Teach kids how to move?

  • Teach kids basic sport skills?

  • Teach kids how to respect and play with others?

  • Teach kids about fitness?

  • Teach kids proper nutrition?

  • Latin educere“to draw out”

What may be obvious to you, may not be obvious to everyone else?

Be a devil’s advocate for a second…can a personal trainer or recreation/activity specialist do your job?

Why do we need physical educators?

  • Do you provide a unique service or benefit no one else can?

  • Do you provide this service or benefit better than anyone else can?

  • If you can’t make your case “bulletproof”, it is very easy to pursue more cost effective methods and personnel.

What is “Quality” Physical Education

The provision of “developmentally appropriate experiences” that allow students to develop physical skills, knowledge and personal social attributes facilitating the pursuit of active, healthy lifestyles.


You should check it out regularly

BMI = Weight / Height2

Percentage of Obese Adults in the US for the past 20 years

CDC (2010): 33% of all children were overweight (BMI ≈ 25-29) with 17% considered obese (BMI ≥ 30).

Michigan 2008: Obesity Costs = $3.1 Billion!

Prevalence of Obesity (BMI≥30) if the current trend continues

(% of population):




Obesity-attributable spending if the trend continues (in millions $):




State resources dedicated to prevention? Curriculum? Teachers? Facilities? Equipment?

$28,117 per prisoner in Michigan in 2010…total MDOC prison budget is close to $1.2 Billion!

$10,644 per student in Michigan…where is the priority?

The association between school-based physical activity, including physical education, and academic performance: A systematic review of the literature

  • 251 associations between physical activity and academic performance, measuring academic achievement, academic behavior, cognitive skills and attitudes.

  • 50.5% were positive, 48% were not significant, and 1.5% were negative.

  • Mixed findings suggest physical activity is positively related to academic performance or there is no demonstrated relationship between physical activity and academic performance.

Rasberry et al., (2011). Preventative Medicine, 52 Supplement

Fitness Model?

Skill/Sport Model?

Are your kids physically literate?

Dynamical Systems Theory – Dexterity and its Development (Bernstein)

A physically educated child should be motor competent and…

…most important,motor confidentthroughout the lifespan!!!

“Taught not caught”…Physical Activity Habits begin Early

  • “…sports that require and encouraged diversified sport skills, appeared to be most beneficial with regard to the enhancement of adult physical activity. Tammelin et al. (2003)

  • “…physical activity and cardio-respiratory fitness develop early in life and track into adulthood...”Steele et al. (2008)

  • Adolescents' exercise-related attitudes predict subsequent moderate-to-vigorous physical activity…efforts may provide long-term benefits by helping youth develop favorable exercise attitudes. Graham et al. (2011)

Benchmarks and

  • Grade Level Content Expectations (K – 8th)

  • Michigan Merit Content Expectations (MMCE)

Governor’s 4 x 4 plan (2011)

National Association for Sport and Physical Education (NASPE)

How do we mandate these critical elements?

Just how does one become physically active?

  • Physical Education + Physical Literacy = Physical Activity 

  • Physical Activity + Health Education = Wellness





Motor Skill



General Motor Ability

Positive Physiological

And Psychological




Less Reliance on Health Care System

Higher Quality and Price Competitive Health Care Providers

If your program is on the chopping block …you’re not important. You are a luxury, that is the perception.If you’re not important, how do you change that perception?What benefit do you provide and how will you deliver it with great enthusiasm?How do you keep yourself viable and visible in the public eye so they want to return for your services?

Be visible. Be viable.

Make it clear that Physical Education is at the vanguard of affordable health care.

Physical Education is at the Vanguard of Affordable Health Care!

What local level advocacy strategies have worked for you?

1 Long-term advocacy goals?2 What data do I need?3 How do I collect & share it?4 Who can partner with me?

Advocacy in Motion

What do we want you to remember?

  • Collect & defend

    • Save your best student work

    • Data collect to show student progress

  • Research

    • Know your local policies & use the Jones’

    • State & national recomendations

  • Where is the threat coming from?

    • Is is money, but they are using another excuse?

  • Get out of the gym and have coffee with your administrator

    • Listen first, then bring your data & share

  • If you want to defend it, it must be worth defending

  • Use your best allies—the students & their parents

    • Written & video testimonials

Tony Moreno,




Eastern Michigan

Julie A. Jahn, M.A. Doctoral Candidate at Arizona State UniversityAssistant Professor Eastern Michigan

Angie Scott,


High School Physical Educator

Dexter, MI

Thank you!

We welcome your questions & personal insights…

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