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