ISBE considers changes in PE waiver process, emphasizes meeting Learning Standards for Physical Development and Health

March 20, 2001 

  217/782-4648 or 312/814-3490

Springfield – Future requests for physical education waivers would need to demonstrate that students are meeting the Illinois Learning Standards for Physical Development and Health according to a policy being considered by the State Board of Education at its March meeting.

The Board action comes as a result of testimony from a number of individuals and groups that the routine granting of waivers may compromise students’ learning opportunities in relation to the Physical Development and Health Standards.

Districts requesting new PE waivers would need to present baseline data to show how well their students are meeting the standards for Physical Development and Health. Districts requesting a renewal of an approved modification or waiver would need to document improved student achievement of the standards in relation to the baseline data. Decisions on waivers and modifications will be made on an individual basis, taking into consideration the achievement data, the implications of the specific waiver or modification request and whether the request meets any of the criteria for denial that are in the law.

As a result of State Board action last month, staff will encourage all local districts to implement annual fitness testing and also encourage the voluntary use of the State Board’s written physical development and health assessment for ninth and/or tenth-grade students. Districts submitting a waiver or modification request will be able to use data from such assessments as part of their applications.

Since 1995 when the waiver process began, 185 school districts, representing a little more than 20 percent of the districts in the state, have submitted 313 petitions seeking to waive or modify the requirement to provide daily physical education. Of those, 311 requests have been granted.

The waiver law authorizes the State Board to approve waivers of rules and regulations or modifications of state law. Waivers of the School Code must be approved by the General Assembly. The General Assembly has approved 213 of those requests as waivers and denied two. The State Board of Education has granted 98 as modifications of the School Code.

Currently, 19 requests are pending General Assembly action and will be included in the report due to the legislature by May 1.