SB530 Quick Facts:
  • The bill mandates moderate to vigorous physical activity (not TEKS-based physical education).
    Every student does not have to be put in a P.E. class to meet the four-semester middle school requirement.
  • Local Districts may phase in the middle school physical activity requirement (e.g., starting with sixth grade in fall 2008).
  • Update: Exemption rules (detailed below) can help protect students' participation in electives. Rules effective in August 2008.

Legislative Update: SB530
as published in March-April 2008 Southwestern Musician
Senate Bill 530, the physical activity bill sponsored by Senator Jane Nelson (R–Lewisville) and Representative Rob Eissler (R–The Woodlands), will be in full force beginning in the fall of 2008. Two major components of the bill are already in effect—elementary physical activity and grades 3–12 assessment requirements. Physical activity in grades K–5 for 30 minutes daily or 135 minutes per week was already in law. TMEA successfully protected the language permitting structured recess to count in meeting the minutes requirement. TEA staff has confirmed that minutes in movement during music class may count to meet the requirement as well. If we had not won these debates, then precious instructional minutes could have been cut from music on elementary campuses around the state.

Physical Assessment
Secondly, mandated physical fitness assessment for all students in grades 3–12 is in place this school year. Many of you are actively involved in that process or will be this spring. It is the decision of the local district to determine when the test is given, who gives it, and what classes may be missed to give the assessment. Sadly, I have heard from some of you that students were pulled from your classes two days before solo and ensemble contest or right before UIL Concert and Sightreading Contest to participate in the assessment. Since these are all local decisions, it is my hope that most of you had the opportunity to be a part of that process and pled your case to protect your instructional time during those most critical rehearsal days.

Middle School Physical Activity Requirement
The requirement for all students in grades 6–8 to be involved in daily moderate to vigorous activity of at least thirty minutes goes into effect this fall. How to implement this requirement will be a local decision. The most logical approach would be to phase in the requirement starting with the sixth graders of 2008 just as we do new graduation plans starting with the incoming ninth grade. I heard from one band director that their athletic director told him that all students who were in sixth grade band this year would have to quit so they could get in their four semesters of physical education in grades seven and eight. This action would have destroyed the band program and it certainly does not have to be the case. 

Physical Activity, NOT Physical Education
It is important to note that SB 530 calls for a physical activity requirement in grades K–8, not a TEKS-based physical education class. While the activity must be based on the physical activity and health strands of the TEKS for physical education, by no means are all TEKS required to be taught. Thus activities that contain moderate or vigorous physical activity may meet the requirement. Every student does not have to be put in a P.E. class.

Exemption Rules (see final version below)
The law also requires the Commissioner of Education to develop rules that provide exemptions for middle school or junior high school students who participate in an extracurricular activity with a moderate or vigorous physical activity component that is considered a structured activity. In addition, the law states that the Commissioner may permit an exemption for a student who participates in a school-related activity or an activity sponsored by a private league or club if the student provides proof of participation in the activity. Our hope is that these rules will allow local boards of education to exempt from the four-semester requirement students who are physically active off-campus in private leagues or clubs. These exemption rules are now completed and are posted below with additional relevant information.

Block Scheduling
There are two other components of the bill worthy of mention. The first is that a school district that uses block scheduling may require a student to participate in moderate or vigorous physical activity for at least 225 minutes during each period of two school weeks. This schedule lowers the minute requirement from 300 minutes over two weeks to an average of 112 minutes per week. Since there is no formal definition of block scheduling, this language may create more flexibility for campuses to meet the law and not force students out of elective programs they value.

TEA Must Report Options for Physical Activity
The final component states that by September 1, 2008, TEA must provide a report to the legislature that details more options for providing moderate to vigorous daily physical activity for students for at least 30 minutes outside the seven-hour instructional day. The options and recommendations must be developed with consideration for the needs of students who are enrolled in multiple enrichment curriculum courses.

Summary
In summary, the legislature did listen to us on several issues—protecting structured recess and movement in music class to count in elementary school, cutting the middle school requirement from six to four semesters (we fought for three), building in exemption rules for off-campus physical activity, allowing flexibility for block scheduling, and looking to the future to accommodate those students in multiple enrichment courses. We all agree that the intent of SB 530 is a worthy one. But I also think we all agree that the unintended consequences of such legislation ultimately hurt the overall education of our children, forcing them into difficult academic choices at such a young age.
The American Academy of Pediatrics states: Recommendations for youth should focus on promoting a variety of activities that are fun and can easily be incorporated into their lifestyle. These activities can include team sports, individual sports, and recreational or lifetime activities such as walking, bicycling, dancing, and swimming. AAP further states, “Any form of physical activity that is regular, enjoyable, and sustainable is the desired endpoint.” TMEA will continue its quest to minimize the negative academic impact that SB 530 has on students while supporting the intent to keep kids physically active.

 

 

Physical Activity Exemption Rules Adopted
Effective August 28, 2008

The Commissioner of Education’s exemption rules governing middle school physical activity are in effect. There were no substantive changes from the exemption rules posted for public comment in May 2008. TMEA appreciates the flexibility these rules provide to meet the intent and requirements of the law while helping protect electives opportunities for students in grades 6–8 and further believes the rules represent the most flexibility we could hope for within the limits of the law.

Section 103.1003 (c) allows local boards of education the flexibility to exempt both extracurricular activities and school-related activities or an activity sponsored by a private league or club as long as the other requirements in sub-section (d) are met.

§103.1003. Student Physical Activity Requirements and Exemptions.

(a) In accordance with the Texas Education Code (TEC), §28.002 (l), all students in Kindergarten-Grade 8 must participate in at least 30 minutes of moderate to vigorous daily physical activity subject only to the limitations or exemptions specified in this section.

  1. For a student enrolled in any grade level below Grade 6, the school district or open-enrollment charter school may require a student to participate in moderate or vigorous physical activity for at least 135 minutes during each school week as an alternative.
  2. A student in Grade 6, 7, or 8 must participate daily for at least four semesters during those grades.
  3. A school district or open-enrollment charter school that uses block scheduling may permit a student to participate in 225 minutes of physical activity over two weeks as an alternative.
  4. Each school district or open-enrollment charter school must allow an exemption from the physical activity requirement for a student with an illness or a disability using the health classifications defined in §74.31 of this title (relating to Health Classifications for Physical Education).

(b) Each school district or open-enrollment charter school must provide an exemption for a student on a middle or junior high school campus to participate in an extracurricular activity that has a moderate to vigorous physical activity component and meets the requirements for extracurricular activity as defined by §76.1001 of this title (relating to Extracurricular Activities) and is a structured activity as defined by subsection (d) of this section.

(c) A school district or open-enrollment charter school may allow an exemption for a student on a middle or junior high school campus participating in a school-related activity or an activity sponsored by a private league or club only if that activity meets each of the following requirements.

  1. The activity must be structured as defined in subsection (d) of this section.
  2. The school district's board of trustees or open-enrollment charter school board must certify the activity.
  3. The student must provide proof of participation in the activity.

(d) A structured activity as referenced in this section is defined as an activity that meets, at a minimum, each of the following requirements.

  1. The activity is based on the grade appropriate movement, physical activity and health, and social development strands of the essential knowledge and skills for physical education specified in Chapter 116 of this title (relating to Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills for Physical Education).
  2. The activity is organized and monitored by school personnel or by appropriately trained instructors who are part of a program that has been certified by the school district's board of trustees or open-enrollment charter school board.