Thursday, April 26, 2012

PE, IEPs, and New Federal Guidance

A 2010 report from the Government Accountability Office found that although PE is one of the general education courses in which students with disabilities most commonly participate, education had "provided little information or guidance on PE or extracurricular athletics for students with disabilities." The report further noted that few students with IEPs have specified accommodations for PE writen into their IEPs.

In response, in August of 2011, the U.S. Department of Education released a guidance statement titled Creating Equal Opportunities For Children and Youth With Disabilities to Participate in Physical Education and Extracurricular Athletics.  The statement is available online at: 

Among other things, the DOE's statement notes that that according to researchers with the President's Council on Physical Fitness and Sports Research Digest, children with disabilities are 4.5 times less physically active than children without disabilities. This concerned the researchers since higher levels of sedentary behavior during childhood are likely to continue into adulthood, and contribute to an increased risk of adult obesity, and other health problems.

The recommendations contained in the DOE guidance include the use of equipment, as appropriate, such as a treadmill with an even, predictable walking surface, the Wii, Xbox, and PlayStation, and devices like them, to simulate participation in sports that some students with disabilities can't do in the traditional way. Most of all, the guidance emphasizes the importance of student participation, and notes that team play and sportsmanship cannot be taught except through participation.

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