The physical education grading system is old and outdated. It should be changed to suit students of all shapes and sizes, as well as promote body positivity and a healthy lifestyle. It is often thought that your ability to physically perform directly parallels how healthy you are as a person.
The way that students are being graded in PE only creates a hostile environment for bullying and low self-esteem. Asking students, of all different body types and sizes, to conform to a state average can make students feel horrible about themselves. A student should not be asked to compare their own physical ability to the abilities of their peers.
For instance, a cardiovascular activity, specifically running, is often what students are asked to perform in class. Running around a track, field, blacktop or other surface is a common activity for students. Often times schools do not have the budget or funding to offer alternative ways of exercise, so running is more often than not a school’s primary way of getting their students to exercise. It still seems, however, that people are under the misconception that if you are not able to run and keep a quick pace for a certain amount of time, you are unhealthy and out of shape. However, running is not the only way to determine a person's individual health. People can be healthy and not be able to keep a quick running pace.
Typically on a PE day, there are a variety of students running at different speeds. There are often people who can run with ease, keeping a fast and steady pace. Then there are the people who fall more towards the middle and tend to run at inconsistent speeds, taking brief walking breaks. Finally, you have the people who tend to run towards the back of the group. These are the people who are considered unhealthy. A study done by Howard S. Friedman, proves that a healthy diet contributes more towards the health of an individual than physical activity and exercise.
Though many like to pride themselves on their running speeds or abilities to lift heavy weights, it must be remembered that you are what you eat, a phrase that can be brushed off as simply a way for parents to get their kids to eat healthy. However, the meaning behind the idiom is more factual than you realize. Someone who runs in the front may be fast, but that does not show everything about their health and lifestyle. Someone who tends to fall more towards the back can have a very healthy diet and lifestyle, but not have the stamina or physique to run fast.
Students in schools today are being asked to conform to a grading system not suited for everyone's different physical abilities. The grading system is composed of statewide average times, and melts them together into what should be “expected”. I think this should be changed, and teachers should look into alternative ways to grade their students.
In a PE class, students should be graded purely on effort and how they choose to participate. A physical education class should incorporate more body positivity and the importance of a healthy diet, and not focus so much on grading kids poorly because of their running skills. PE should create an environment for body positivity, and should grade students on their dedication, not their ability to physically perform.