Changes coming to P.E. in Alabama schools

The obesity rate of children in America and especially here in Alabama has educators rethinking how to get students more physically fit.

This year, the Alabama Physical Fitness Assessment replaces the President's Physical Fitness Challenge.

"We are focusing on what the students can achieve individually. I'm proud of that with this assessment," Denise Knight, P.E. coach at Bumpus Middle School says.

Knight says it was time for a change when it came to testing student's fitness. "I'm anxious to see how it's going to work. I{} think the kids will be excited once they see what we're going to do," says Knight.After a pilot test in 2010, the Alabama Fitness Assessment will be used in all public schools beginning this school year for students K-8.

The idea to improve overall health and fitness in students."This is a much less intimidating test that we're doing than the (President's Physical Fitness Challenge) I think for a student coming in and that's what we focus our curriculum on. Not the fitness test, but a way for students to be physically fit," Knight explains.Knight says each P.E. class will feature activities that promote those target areas."We've been developing these for years, we've been looking in that direction and changing our curriculum toward that, " says Knight. "We don't base it on the fitness assessment test, we base it on the curriculum as set by the state of Alabama. Along with the added emphasis on physical activities in schools,comes a focus on improving school lunches and nutrition during the school day"There's going to be more fruits and vegetable choices in the lunch lines as well as whole grains. So it's going to be from the aspect of health and fitness, nutrition combined altogether. Kim Kane, physical education and resource supervisor for Jefferson County Schools says all of these components translate into better results in the classroom.

For some children, the 30 to 50 minutes of P.E. during the school day may be the only exercise they get. Kane says an improved P.E. class can translate to more focused students who do better in other subjects."We're trying to tackle it at the elementary level, all the way through to high school," says Kane.