Providing Flexibility To W.Va. Schools
To the Editor:
An editorial, “Restore Common Sense in Schools,” that appeared in the Intelligencer and Wheeling News-Register on Thursday, December 13, 2018, contained several inaccuracies which misled readers on the topic of physical education credits.
West Virginia Board of Education Policy 2510 was revised in January 2018, with the sole intent of providing more flexibility to counties at the local level. The policy was revised after a year of meetings with groups representing stakeholders in the public education system.
Among other changes, the newly-adopted policy now allows high school students to receive physical education credit for physically active, credit-bearing courses such as show choir, dance and band. In this case, students fulfill their (1) required physical education credit by pairing their physically active course with an “integrated physical education” self-paced online course.
The online course is required to ensure students receive standards on maintaining a healthy lifestyle from a certified physical education teacher. To clarify, and as stated above, students are only required to fulfill (1) physical education credit for graduation — not two as your editorial states. Additionally, students do receive physical education credit for extracurricular activities. The credit is non-graded but does fulfill their (1) required physical education credit. In addition to providing students with credit for extracurricular activities, Ohio County’s local policy also suggests students receive a grade for those activities. In other words, under current State Board policy, a student athlete playing soccer receives credit and fulfills their graduation requirement. Ohio County has requested that student athletes also be assigned a grade for those extracurricular activities to count toward their overall grade point average. Currently, students receive a non-graded credit towards graduation. Because all high school athletic coaches are not certified physical education teachers, they are not permitted to assign a grade to students.
Once this issue was realized at the state level, West Virginia Department of Education staff worked with Ohio County to provide several options. One option is to request that students receiving credit for extracurricular activities also take the online self-paced course to receive a graded credit for physical education. This option would require no change in students’ schedules and students would receive a graded credit for physical education. A second option is to request a waiver of State Board policy outlining how extracurricular activities could be graded against a set of standards in collaboration with a certified physical education teacher. Our staff has worked extensively over the last 18 months to provide increased flexibility in regulations for counties and to transfer more authority to the local level. Our goal is to empower districts to make the best decisions on behalf of its students.
Steven Paine, Ed.D.
W.Va. Schools Superintendent