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TNLI: Action Research: Curriculum Implementation: It’s More than Throwing Out the Ball


Do children who are physically active during the school day perform better in school than those who are not?


Today’s students face greater pressures to perform at a higher level and are expected to take higher-level classes. With all these added pressures and demands, students are experiencing higher levels of stress and an increase of health problems such as obesity. Because schools are placing more emphasis on learning, many of the “extra” programs, such as physical education, are being reduced. As a result of the reduction in physical education classes, the number of overweight children has been increasing. In the state of Delaware alone, about 25% of the students are considered to be overweight. For this reason, schools should be placing more emphasis on increasing physical education instead of decreasing it. If the ultimate goal is to increase academic performance, then physical education should be included as a critical part of a curriculum.

Throughout history, physical education has played an important role in both education and society. The data state that students who are physically fit perform better academically. Those who are physically active have a greater potential to learn. Research has shown that cognitive performance is improved by aerobic activity. There is strong evidence that students will perform better in school if they are physically active.

Student surveys were given to 171 students who were enrolled in physical education class during their sophomore or junior year. A two-week teacher observation was performed on twenty randomly selected students. A GPA (grade point average) analysis was performed to see if students who were enrolled in physical education during a given semester had a higher GPA compared to the semester when they were not enrolled in physical education class.

Preliminary findings showed that of the 171 students surveyed, ninety-two stated a positive response toward physical fitness. Many students noted that after physical education class, they were more alert and were able to concentrate more in their other classes. The teachers had favorable responses about their students’ behavior and actions after they had participated in physical education class. The GPA analysis showed a positive relationship between physical activity and academic achievement. Of the 171 students whose GPAs were analyzed, eightyeight had higher GPAs during the semester in which they were enrolled in physical education class than during the semester they were not.


  • Delaware policy makers should consider requiring all students to take physical education class during every semester of the high school career.
  • Delaware should consider adopting new state physical education standards that increase student fitness levels and teach students how to sustain a healthful lifestyle through a variety of activities.

Carolann Space

Health and Phys. Ed.
Charter School of Wilmington

TNLI Affiliate:

If you would like to learn more about Teachers Network Leadership Institute--Delaware, please e-mail Michael Rasmussen.



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