The school days of high school student-athletes in Tucson, Arizona, are set to become a little less redundant next school year.
The Tucson Unified School District’s (TUSD) governing board approved a new policy that essentially eliminates the physical education (P.E.) class requirement from student-athlete’s schedules. The policy allows students to count participation in extracurricular sports as a P.E. credit, which opens up their schedules to take other classes.
Before this proposal, which was unanimously approved by the board on December 9, extracurricular activities received no classroom credit.
Board members told the Arizona Daily Star that the previous system demanded too much of high school student-athletes. This measure was designed to lighten those students’ workloads, and ensure room for classes that fulfilled the districts’ other graduation requirements.
However, simply playing a sport does not guarantee an exemption. Athletes must also take a physical fitness test at the end of their district-sponsored activity in order to earn a P.E. credit.
All TUSD students must have one high school P.E. credit in order to graduate. Under the new system, one season of football, swimming, cheerleading, baseball, basketball, golf, cross country, track or wrestling would be equal to one P.E. credit.
A preliminary review of the district’s sponsored sports showed that volleyball and tennis do not meet the time requirements for a P.E. credit in one season. Student-athletes would be required to play two seasons in those sports in order to qualify for the exemption.
However, the district plans to conduct a more thorough review before implementing a final change. That review will also include an examination of other physical extracurricular activities, such as marching band, to be considered for class credit.
The TUSD joins a handful of other states and districts to count extracurricular sports for class credit.
Texas allows student-athletes to take an athletics class during a normal school day. Student-athletes can use this period to watch game film, lift weights or study for other classes among other options.
Last year, the Idaho State Department of Education ruled that high school students can receive credit for school sports as well as club sports.
Indiana is another state that allows for extracurricular sport participation to take the place of a P.E. class. P.E. teachers are allowed to create independent learning programs that fulfill the requirements of a traditional class learning experience. Those independent programs typically coincide with extracurricular athletic participation.
Ben Sieck is an intern in the NFHS Publications and Communications Department and a junior at Butler University.