Bill would update student phys ed standards, require tests

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ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) — A Minnesota state senator wants to hold more schools accountable for their students' physical education.

Sen. Susan Kent introduced a bill Monday that would require yearly assessments of students' physical health starting with the 2017 school year. Students starting ninth grade in 2017 and later would also need two physical education credits to get their diploma.

"What we know is that adequate movement during the day on a consistent basis and good physical education knowledge and skills ... are really important both to short-term wellness and learning and also obviously to long-term health," Kent said.

Minnesota school districts are required to follow national physical education standards, but not all do. The bill from Kent, a Woodbury Democrat, would update those standards and bring wayward districts in line.

Sen. Sean Nienow said he's in favor of making sure students get enough physical education. But he questioned whether another annual test is necessary.

"It's not a bad thing, but is that really what we need to do?" the ranking Republican on the Senate Education Committee said.

Physically active people tend to live longer and have lower risk for heart disease, depression, and some forms of cancer, according to the Centers for Disease Control.

But most Minnesota schools give their students in first through fifth grade less than two and a half hours of exercise per week on average, according to a recent report from the Minnesota Department of Education. The CDC recommends children ages 6 to 17 exercise for an hour every day.

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