School Committee Considers Impacts of Reducing H.S. Gym Requirement

The change would eliminate one of two required physical education courses for high school students.

Carroll County Public School officials are looking into the impact of requiring high school students to take only one half-credit gym class as opposed to the current standard of two half-credit gym classes. 

At a recent school board meeting,  vice president Barbara Shreeve said that reducing the gym class requirement would allow students more flexibility for academics in their schedules. 

According to Shreeve, students have said the second half-credit of gym interferes with advanced placement courses and other full-credit classes when scheduling their junior and senior years.

Students would still have the option to take a second gym class, but it wouldn't be a graduation requirement.

The state of Maryland requires high school students to take only one physical education class. The second physical education class requirement is a county requirement.

Do you think the second physical education class requirement should be eliminated? Tell us in comments. 

School Superintendent Stephen Guthrie said that after the board meeting he formed a committee to "study the impact this revision to our graduation requirements would have on the school system."

"I think it's beneficial to all parties not to rush the decision, but take some time to fully examine it so that nothing is missed," Guthrie said.

Physical Education Supervisor for CCPS Linda Kephart told Patch that she is opposed to eliminating the second gym credit requirement. 

"I am not in favor of this, most importantly for the health and wellbeing of students," Kephart said. "We provide a balanced curriculum and a lot of life time choices for students in that elective half-credit.

"I think it is more of a schedulding issue rather than valueing Phys. Ed," Kephart said. "It's only a half credit, it's not going to make or break their schedule."

Guthrie said that he has received some feedback on the issue, most of which he said has been opposed to the change. Guthrie added that the board has not formally presented the issue for public comment because there is no proposal on the table.

"Currently, we are only exploring the potential impact of this change," Gurthrie said. "I hope to bring back impact information to the Board in the next several months and make a final decision this spring." 

Assistant Superintendent of Instruction Steve Johnson said it is important for students to have access to learning about living healthy lifestyles.

According to Johnson, one half-credit of physical education translates into approximately eight weeks of a class that meets daily. The students have a choice of one of the following courses: Team Sports, Individual/Dual Sports, Weight Training, Advanced Weight Training, Personal Fitness, Gymnastics and Tumbling.

"I do believe in the power of education, and I believe that students can and do acquire specific learnings from highly qualified educators that will help them live a more active and healthy lifestyle," Johnson said.

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Bj Townsend Lynch September 26, 2012 at 12:21 PM
This is a no-brainer. Students need more exercise, not less. How about instituting a waiver system that gives students a "pass" on the second class if they show proof of taking a class outside of school, like taekwondo or ballet?
Kay Freas September 26, 2012 at 12:34 PM
Children & adults both benefit from exercise. I do not agree that a 1/2 credit gym class should be eliminated; it revives the kids' energy, especially after lunch. Also, I admire Virginia Harrison's stance to support both the 1/2 credit physical ed credit and the financial literacy course. High school students need to learn the fundamental basics of personal finances prior to going off into the world of college or work. Kay Freas, Sykesville
Dave R September 26, 2012 at 12:42 PM
Exercise, in any form, benefits a student's academics. Balance is a part of life and I strongly believe that maintaining the current system is better for the well being of our children. We need to teach our kids that exercise is an essential element of long term health.
janet September 26, 2012 at 01:04 PM
Exercise is very important. We are constantly being informed via the media etc on how important it is. Why in the world would this be reduced considering the obesity rate. Keeping our children as active as possible in there lives maintains balance. After graduation the percentage of our children maintaining being active drops significantly.
WestMonster September 26, 2012 at 01:32 PM
I agree with all of these comments. Physical activity is important for all ages, and has many benefits. Reducing or eliminating this requirement shows just the opposite. A waiver for outside of school activities could work, but also could easily be taken advantage of.
Buck Harmon September 26, 2012 at 01:38 PM
In a day and age of more sitting in front of a screen, I think that perhaps a third physical education requirement should be added.
Trish September 26, 2012 at 02:18 PM
While I agree that physical activity is of the utmost importence in maintaining a healthy lifestyle, I disagree with the above comments. With requirements for college placement, there truly is not enough time in the high school schedule to squeeze in the 2nd half credit of PE. Many of the advanced placement courses are all year long, and with the new requirement of taking math all four years of high school, something has to go. If I have to choose a math course or AP course over PE, well then I must admit that PE is a goner! In addition, there is a current graduation requirement of a half credit of Technology Education which I would rather see be eliminated over PE.
Shannon L September 26, 2012 at 02:34 PM
I agree that exercise is very important but lets just be honest - 1/2 gym credit is not going to have that big of an impact these kids. My daughter has to take her last gym credit in her senior year which means she can't take a class that she really wants to take and will look good on her college resume. Taking this 1/2 credit means you have to find another 1/2 credit class and takes away from taking a full credit class. Especially if you play a high school sport...you shouldn't have to take the second gym credit!
L.F. H. September 26, 2012 at 03:36 PM
All the phy. ed. classes possible are needed for students, unless they would be taking marching band. When students had it every day, one saw fewer obese kids. I'd rather see students taking the phys. ed. credits, then having someone telling them what they can and cannot eat, for the students will never learn on their own if someone keeps making the decisions for them.
I. DeFeo September 26, 2012 at 04:14 PM
Although academics come first, I think they should leave that 2 1/2 credit gym requirement in. Students find a way to juggle around their schedules. In the lower grades, many kids are playing rec sports and are in general more active. By high school, many have stopped participating in sports & other physical activities. I don't know if that extra gym credit will make a lifelong difference, but it does get them moving. I would like to see less academics in gym though - let students be judged on participating with a good attitude.
Melyndia September 26, 2012 at 04:38 PM
exercise the body and you exercise the brain
jag September 26, 2012 at 04:47 PM
The military is turning away applicants because they are to obese. So what does the powers to be in the Carroll County School System want to do? You know the folks who have the college education!!!! The suppose "Smart" folks!!! They want to reduce the amount of Phys Ed students get in school. HELLO!!!!!! We need to increase the amount of Phys Ed. Teach the importance of exercise, staying active.
blw September 27, 2012 at 11:30 AM
Our children are experiencing epic levels of stress in the high schools. Exercise has been shown to help reduce stress. So, what are we doing to help our students? Getting rid of an opportunity to exercise and replacing it with another academic class. The nice thing about the second PE requirement is that it is the "fun" PE class. Students have the opportunity to explore different types of fitness. From weight lifting to personal fitness, the kids get to see that exercise takes many different forms, and it can be fun. I have one child who has graduated from CCPS, and two currently in high school. None of them has ever had to choose between PE and an academic class. What a sad state of affairs we have come to when academics is more important than your health.
blw September 27, 2012 at 11:40 AM
I've wondered about the purpose of that Tech Ed requirement! I wish our county would actually offer the kids computer programming or keyboarding alongside Tech ED at EVERY county high school. As it stands now, only a small handful of students are chosen to attend Career and Tech for programming...
Sue September 27, 2012 at 11:49 AM
As a parent of two high achieving students in high school, it's very hard to fit in all of the challenging course work they want and need. I applaud the consideration for reducing the requirement IF students are involved in another physical activity such as a team sport. My son plays football & lacrosse and couldn't take all of the classes he wanted this year because of the PE requirement. Coaches should be able to sign off on a gym requirement thus allowing the time in the schedule for academic classes and still ensuring physical activity.
JoeEldersburg September 27, 2012 at 10:04 PM
For the safety of our children, I say the less our kids are exposed to the shoddy conditions of our Caroll County fields the better! We have the most embarrassing field conditions in the entire state. We lack the vision to develop synthetic fields at our high schools or at non-existent rec complexes which other counties invest in. Since our rec programs will continue to rely heavily on the school fields, we should at least be maintaining the fields to rec standards and requiring the schools to partner financially on their improvement like they do in other counties. Yes, we need more exercise, not less, but if a kid is playing sports or perhaps maintains a healthy BMI, they should be exempted, if it is requested. Consider it a reward for being healthy. If we hadn't wasted $74 million building Manchester Valley HS when it wasn't needed without a penny of state help, we could have afforded a lot more than some new athletic fields.
Trimlc October 30, 2012 at 09:48 PM
I like all the feedback on this. As a M.S. student in EPE at McDaniel, I am currently in the Carroll County High School Physical Education System and will be in it full time next semester and graduate in May. I understand all the different viewpoints, and feel the majority of you believe the 1/2 credit should remain, which I agree with. I'm not sure how many of you have been in a high school physical education class (its not called gym), but these kids need help. The majority of them are inflexible, out of shape, unmotivated, and lazy. This will directly impact our health care system in the future. This will directly impact their long-term health and decrease their life expectency. They are just not equipped with the knowledge, motivation, or desire to take care of their bodies (I would say this is true for 90% of them). Possibly a curriculum change to offer more interesting physical education electives would help motivate the students more. Myself and another student are currently conducting a research project which asks the students their thoughts on reducing the physical education requirement. I feel it would be a travesty to do away with it.


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