I recently came across some data on Community Commons regarding physical activity in schools that I didn’t quite understand. The maps showed 0-5 values, ranking each state on factors related to physical activity and nutrition in schools. What I didn’t understand from the maps was whether a score of 5 was good or bad.
I clicked the “INFO” button to learn more and was redirected to the data source (by the way, every data set on Community Commons has an associated “INFO” button that will lead you directly to its original source). What I learned was that this particular data comes from the Classification of Laws Associated with School Students, or CLASS. CLASS is a project of the National Institute of Health’s Division of Cancer Control and Population Sciences.
CLASS collects data on the following school related health factors:
- School Nutrition Environment – Farm to School Requirements
- Nutrition Education Standards
- Reimbursable School Meals
- Physical Education – Fitness Assessments
- Recess Time
- Physical Education Time Requirements
Each of these factors has a corresponding set of scored criteria that helps make up the data sets available on Community Commons. Let’s take a look at the two sets that had me stumped: Recess Time and Fitness Assessments
In order to determine if 5 was a good score or a bad score, I explored the CLASS scoring criteria on their website. The scoring tables I found are below. Turns out, 5 is a good score and means that schools in the state have policies in place and they follow the recommended guidelines for physical activity.
By exploring more information about the data, I was able to make an educated analysis about physical activity requirements in schools around the nation.
For example, it looks like there’s a group of states in the Midwest (Colorado, Nebraska, Kansas, Iowa, South Dakota, Montana, and Michigan) that don’t have any requirements regarding recess time or fitness assessments and there are very few (California, Texas, West Virginia, Mississippi, and Vermont) that have both types of requirements, but at widely varying degrees. Based on this information, I was able to dig deeper into those states that have requirements in place and learn more about how their policies and requirements were determined, implemented, and carried out.
Does your state have requirements for physical education? Are you working on policies related to physical education requirements? Tell us about it in the comments!