Sunday, March 15, 2009

Study: Physically fit Texas students more likely to do well on achievement tests

Study: Physically fit Texas students more likely to do well on achievement tests
12:04 PM CDT on Tuesday, March 10, 2009

By TERRENCE STUTZ / The Dallas Morning News

AUSTIN – Texas students who are physically fit are more likely to do well on achievement tests and less likely to have discipline problems, according to a study released Monday by the Texas Education Agency.

Based on annual physical fitness assessments of more than 2.4 million students in the public schools, the study found that increased exercise helps the brain function more efficiently and enhances the ability to learn. Students who were physically fit also had better school attendance.

“Texas is the first state to require an annual physical fitness assessment of public school students,” state Education Commissioner Robert Scott said in a statement. “Today’s research results show that improving our children’s physical fitness can have positive results not only for the children, but also for the schools as well.”

Among those present as the study was unveiled were Gov. Rick Perry and Sen. Jane Nelson, R-Flower Mound, who is sponsoring legislation this year to increase physical education requirements for Texas students in middle school.

Nelson, who authored the 2007 measure that required annual fitness assessments, said there is more work to do to combat obesity and get children in shape, including more time in P.E. Her bill would require two additional semesters of P.E. in middle school, where students already have to take four semesters.

But groups representing fine arts teachers are lining up against the legislation, contending it would further erode students’ ability to take art, music and other fine arts classes.

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