CHICAGO – The U.S. Department of Education (USDOE) has awarded Chicago Public Schools (CPS) a competitive $2.25 million grant under the Carol M. White Physical Education Program (PEP), which will provide $750,000 annually over three years to help support the District’s efforts to expand physical education (PE) and professional development for PE teachers and strengthen health and nutrition education programming. The funds represent a welcome addition to CPS’s efforts to promote greater student health and wellness through its Healthy CPS initiative, which is part of the City’s Healthy Chicago agenda.
“We’re proud to be recognized for our commitment to increase physical education activities and nutrition awareness among all our students,” said CPS CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett. “These funds will greatly expand CPS’s efforts to promote both healthy eating and physical education, while better supporting PE teachers who provide this critical education to our students.”
CPS received this competitive grant due to its work recognizing the integral relationship between academic achievement and health, and in turn, the critical role of physical activity in health outcomes. CPS has been able to increase PE time in part because of the Full School Day (FSD) implemented prior to the start of School Year 2011-2012. The FSD increased the length of the school day from 5.75 to 7 hours at the elementary school level, providing more time for instruction. Additionally, the prep periods during which many schools schedule PE were increased from 45 to 60 minutes. At the high school level, the length of course periods increased, which maximizes the time available for physical activity during PE classes.
PEP grants are intended to assist school districts with initiating, expanding or enhancing PE and nutrition education programs, including after-school programs, for students in grades K-12. The PEP program is aligned with and supports First Lady Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move! Active Schools initiative to get kids moving 60 minutes a day before, during and after school.
PEP applicants were invited to align their proposals with seven “design filters” for creating engaging, high-quality physical activity programs. Applicants could also receive points for focusing their efforts on the persistently lowest-achieving schools in their area.
With these funds, the CPS Office of Student Health and Wellness (OSHW) will undertake the following efforts to advance and institutionalize the changes to the CPS physical and health education program that the OSHW has already begun to address:
·Increased quantity: Implement 30+20+10 program (30 minutes of daily PE, 20 minutes of daily recess and 10 minutes of classroom physical activity breaks) at a minimum of 100 elementary schools within three years by providing technical assistance and training. Launch four years of daily PE at all high schools.
·Increased quality: Develop infrastructure and tools to support teachers such as a curriculum map, assessments and corresponding equipment. Provide on-site coaching to PE teachers. Build technological infrastructure to collect and assess student fitness levels.
·Professional Development: Provide regular high-quality, relevant professional development tailored to the needs of PE teachers.
·Health/nutrition education: Coordinate and strengthen health education throughout the District with a focus on integrating nutrition education throughout the school day and the school building.
The USDOE’s Office of Safe and Healthy Students manages the PEP grants and supports efforts to create safe schools, ensure the health and well-being of students, teach students good citizenship and character, respond to crises and prevent drug and alcohol abuse.
All PEP grant recipients must implement programs that help students make progress toward meeting their state standards for PE. In addition, these programs must undertake 1) instruction in healthy eating habits and good nutrition, and 2) physical fitness activities that include at least one of the following:
· Fitness education and assessment to help students understand, improve, or maintain their physical well-being,
·Instruction in a variety of motor skills and physical activities designed to enhance the physical, mental, and social or emotional development of every student,
·Development of and instruction in cognitive concepts about motor skills and physical fitness that support a lifelong healthy lifestyle,
·Opportunities to develop positive social and cooperative skills through physical activity participation, and
-Opportunities for professional development for PE teachers to stay abreast of the latest research, issues, and trends in the field of PE.