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High Schoolers to get PE credit for after-school sports

High school athletes competing in anything from football to gymnastics can earn a physical education credit starting fall 2014. It is part of a new rule from the Idaho State Department of Education. Students can get credit not only for Idaho High School Activities Association sanctioned sports but also for club sports, with district approval.

Logan Barnes is a Rigby High School junior and a member of the Extreme Ballroom Dance Company. He trains almost every day, totaling about 20 hours a week. Barnes also takes weights classes at his high school, but he said he would go after the extra credit.

“Definitely if we just had to get papers filled out or something, I’d definitely go after that because I spend a lot of time here (dancing),” said Barnes.

The original rule from the SDE included 60 minutes per week for elementary students and 200 minutes biweekly for middle schoolers. Both Senate and House Education Committees rejected the sections involving minute requirements but did approve the high school credit component. They also approved requiring CPR to be taught in high school, though certification is not required.

“It is a concept of mastery of a particular field, physical education. That’s a tiny step in the direction of mastery,” said Rep. Wendy Horman, R-District 30.

The Governor’s Task Force for Education recommended moving away from “seat time,” meaning students should be assessed based on mastering the subject, rather than the amount of time learning the subject.

The new physical education rule is still being finalized, but it would require students to provide evidence they have completed PE requirements. Students would also need to ask for the credit from their district.

“It still gave local boards that decision making authority to approve those. It wasn’t an automatic that you get that credit,” said Rep. Julie VanOrden, R-District 31.

Blackfoot Coach Stan Buck mentioned that high schoolers in after-school sports are already inclined to take PE during the day. He wonders if this may become a cost-saving initiative resulting in cuts to current PE programs.

“Maybe they wouldn’t have to fund it as much because now you have a lower percentage of kids that you have to offer those PE classes,” said Buck.

Chase Wasai is a senior at Blackfoot High School and will compete in the state wrestling tournament.

“I’d still end up taking the credits anyways because I don’t like sitting in class all day. I like to get out and be able to do something and get rid of a little extra energy,” said Wasai.

Students may only be awarded one PE credit from after-school sports, even if they play multiple sports over multiple years.

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