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The Spartan Scroll

Should PE be Graded on Participation?

Should+PE+be+Graded+on+Participation%3F
Violet Simpson

Standards in PE have always made students self-conscious. In an interview with a seventh grader, they stated, “When I hear my athletic classmates talk about their scores, I feel super insecure, especially when they ask me. It’s super embarrassing to talk about your low scores. Many kids aren’t athletic, and it’s so unfair that even if we’re trying harder, our grades are lower.” The idea of needing to be able to perform a certain way in order to be fit or healthy can cause insecurity with one’s physical capability and can cause students to compare themselves to others. Instead, an acceptance of all students’ current physical state and looking at how they plan to improve themselves later on is a much more healthy way to look at Physical Education.
PE should be graded on one’s participation. Their willingness to try and exercise, and their capability to in the future is a much better gauge of their Physical Education than their actual ability to. The idea that students fail when unable to do something physically, is outdated. People come in all different shapes and sizes, and there are plenty of reasons students wouldn’t be able to and exercise as the standards are asking them to. The whole point of PE is to teach students how to be physically healthy, but if students are unable to at the moment, their physical education grade shouldn’t be affected. Students not making an effort to be physically active and showing that they haven’t learned anything from physical education, are the ones who should be graded poorly, not the ones who aren’t at a place in the moment, where they can reach their potential. If they have potential to reach the “standards” we have drilled into their brains, that should be more than enough to pass, rather than giving A’s to people who have been doing soccer since they were three years old, and don’t make an effort to get better. If anything, running “the mile” should be graded based on your improvement from your first time running, instead of how you do compared to FitnessGram’s standards. Everyone’s different, and should be graded accordingly. The seventh grader also commented on how they believed PE should be graded on participation, says, “PE should be graded on participation and effort, not how strong athletic you are. With all the insecurities and anxiety middle schoolers go through, insecurities about PE are just unnecessary. A lot of us are trying our best and putting forth effort, which is what most teachers care about. PE is treated as a very different class, so I believe it should be graded as one too.”
Although it is true that most students can get at least three laps on Run Day easily, three laps is only 70%. If a student were to get all 3’s, get points for dressing everyday, and show up every day for PE, the best they can get is a B+. Not to say a B+ isn’t a good grade normally, but for PE, it’s not very good. On top of that, students who get three laps during Run Day aren’t necessarily unfit either. Again, everyone’s different, so to say that getting three laps on Run Day is a 70%, even though it could be a big accomplishment for someone who struggles physically, is outdated. Run Day itself isn’t entirely bad, but the grading is. Instead, a student’s improvement over the year could be a better gauge, like stated in the beginning.
We can still do all the things we normally do in PE, but whenever tests come around at the beginning of the school year, they are graded on participation, and when they come along in the next semester, they’re graded by how much you improved. For every Run Day, PE coaches would track how much time was left over after your last lap. For example, you could get three laps and have four minutes remaining, or get four laps and have six minutes remaining. It would vary depending on the student of course. If the student gets better by the end of the semester they would get a better grade, if they did worse, they might be graded worse. This is obviously not a full-proof idea, and many things surrounding the nitty gritty of how it was graded would have to be workshopped a ton, but in the end, I think students wouldn’t be as insecure towards their physical abilities, and there could be less of a stigma surrounding working out and maintaining a healthy body in the future. The reality is this is middle school, and there’s no reason for us to be forced to be a certain level of fit at this age, especially when, just a year before, we didn’t do even a fraction of the amount of physical activity we are supposed to do in PE in middle school.

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About the Contributor
Violet Simpson, Arts and Culture Editor
Violet Simpson is an aspiring writer who enjoys anything pink and vintage. Her favorite type of food is Japanese, despite being raised in the deep south. Violet was born in Birmingham, Alabama surrounded by her family, until her father got his dream job offer and moved to La Crescenta. She loves to write fiction with aspects of fantasy and horror stories, but when writing non-fiction, a simple research paper is her default. Since moving she’s become quite attached to the city, but still takes every chance she can to go and visit her family back south. 

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