School reform: The role of physical education policy in physical activity of elementary school children in alabama's black belt region

Leah E. Robinson, Danielle D. Wadsworth, E. Kipling Webster, David R. Bassett

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

11 Scopus citations


Purpose. To investigate the implementation of state- and school-mandated physical education (PE) and physical activity policies on students' school-day physical activity behaviors. Design. Observational, cross-sectional study. Setting. Five elementary schools in rural Alabama. Subjects. Six hundred and eighty-three school-age children. Measures. School-day physical activity behaviors were assessed with pedometer step count, the System for Observing Fitness Instruction Time (SOFIT), and the System for Observing Play and Leisure Activity in Youth (SOPLAY). Analysis. Descriptive statistics (means and standard deviations) were used to describe the current health and in-school physical activity behaviors of students. Results. Students accumulated a daily average of 4079.57 (±1678.1) and 3473.44 (±1073.37) steps for boys and girls, respectively, throughout the school day. SOFIT findings indicate that students spent an average of 23.80 ± 5.33 min/d in PE and that 14.33 ± 6.10 min/d were spent in moderate to vigorous physical activity (MVPA). This equates to 59.38% of PE time spent in MVPA. SOPLAY findings showed that recess and before/after school activity was not provided. Conclusions: It appears that schools were in compliance with the state-mandated PE policies on paper but not in actuality. Students did not attend PE for 30 min/d. The implementation of PE as the sole physical activity opportunity provides inadequate amounts of physical activity during the school day.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)S72-S76
JournalAmerican Journal of Health Promotion
Issue numberSUPPL 3
StatePublished - Jan 1 2014
Externally publishedYes



  • Elementary schools
  • Pedometers
  • Policy evaluation
  • Prevention research
  • Rural health
  • Youth

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health(social science)
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health

Cite this