School of Kinesiology and Recreation alum Dan Phelps ’06, M.S. ’12, and Professor Dale Brown provided testimony March 20 before the Illinois General Assembly’s Elementary and Secondary Education Committee in support of House Bill 5397 in Springfield. The bill was sponsored by the Illinois Alliance to Prevent Obesity of which Phelps and Brown are both work group committee members.
House Bill 5397 focuses on developing physically literate students with the skills for lifelong fitness and health through implementation of a nationally recognized physical fitness assessment in every school across the state. House Bill 5397 extends and continues the work of the Enhanced Physical Education Task Force, which revised and updated the state learning standards for health and physical education (P.E.). Those standards are currently being implemented by the Illinois State Board of Education.
The bill would help track the progress being made in Illinois, not only in improving P.E. but also in other academic areas. It is clear that fit children learn better. Also, it is known that regular physical activity enhances various aspects of brain activity that affect academic performance, including learning, memory, concentration, and mood, and we know that higher fit students have better math and reading abilities, and in Illinois, better Illinois Standard Achievement Test (ISAT) scores. This bill would track these measures for every student in the state and help students set individual fitness goals for improvement.
From a programmatic impact and surveillance perspective, House Bill 5397 would also
- create a task force to develop protocols for fitness testing and reporting to ensure reliability across the state.
- establish a fitness data tracking system in the state to help track improvements over time.
- give schools two years to prepare their P.E. teachers to administer the test to students as part of their class curriculum and fitness improvement programs.
The bill has passed the House and now goes to the Illinois Senate.