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Bruno: PE Is Good For Kids But Not For Test Scores

DodgeballIn this age of high stakes English and math testing it's become increasingly common to hear people try to justify having kids spend time doing other things by arguing that by a happy coincidence those other things will increase English and math test scores.

I've never been crazy about that sort of argument. In part I just don't like seeing activities that are important in their own right reduced to groveling at the feet of the two subjects we somehow decided were of greatest importance. Additionally, the whole "this-is-good-for-test-scores" kabuki is usually at least a little disingenuous and so there's the risk that at some point people will start to see through it.

A new NBER working paper -- The Impact of Physical Education on Obesity among Elementary School Children -- nicely illustrate both of those concerns. The authors find that PE does not appear to boost achievement test scores but does  "[reduce] the probability of obesity among 5th graders (in particular, boys)".

I'm pretty sure that under an ideal system we wouldn't have to bother defending PE in terms of its effects on reading and math test scores. Yet that is often exactly the discussion we end up having. - PB (@MrPABruno) (image source)

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You know what would be really good for test scores? Locking children in a room with math, science, English, and history textbooks and having an automated voice drone on with lectures in all subjects. Then, wrist exercises to lessen the risk of repetitive motion injury from all their bubble-filling practice. We could even feed them via IV to ensure they don’t waste time on eating.

I totally agree with you....only English and maths are not the important subject in growth of children... there should be right to student for extra curriculum..

Have you been following this controversy in the UK? Cameron has called for an increase in school sports, following the Olympics. http://www.guardian.co.uk/news/datablog/2012/aug/18/participation-school-sport-coalition-stop-reporting

@Deirdre - Interesting. I will confess to not being much of an expert on physical ed even in the U.S., let alone as it happens in other countries.

Yap!!! you are right. parents should be learn to their kids English and maths from starting because of these two subjects are the base of the all subjects. I want to say that in all schools teachers should give in depth knowledge about the maths and English subject. This will be helpful in making a bright future of any students.

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