SIP Timeline 2011-2014

Monday, June 25, 2012

Improving School Achievement through Physical Education

In 4 years, the face of Barriere Secondary School’s Physical Education Department has experienced much change. Upon my arrival 4 years ago, we were met with several challenges. Some of these challenges included: organization, structure and common expectations. It was evident the students of Barriere Secondary were solid athletes with strong potential. However,  it was also obvious the students of Barriere Secondary School lacked knowledge and a standard level of fitness. The PE program was failing to provide this for them.

Within my first year, both physical fitness testing and knowledge development of fitness was introduced through an age and grade progressive process. We introduced standardized fitness testing which consisted of:
  • Muscular Endurance
  • Cardiovascular Endurance
  • Muscular Strength
  • Flexibility
  • Body Composition. 

We  triangulated data by using student, school and National based scores. This ensured our data was accurate and meaningful.  Twice a month, students are tested and the best results are posted in the gym for each fitness component. This strategy began to build a healthy competitiveness among students as well as a sense of pride and achievement in students improving their overall health.

The introduction of a progressive fitness planning unit helped students develop an understanding of the body and how its systems are linked to fitness. Fitness knowledge and planning are essential learning outcomes in Physical Education 8-12. Assessing these outcomes required a system which focused on learning outcomes as opposed to participation, effort and attendance of students. The PE department did not have a consistent and sound practice of assessment. This method of assessment challenged both the students ideas of “gym” as well as department assessment practices. We had to learn a more efficient and accurate type of assessment which assessed for learning and was more closely linked to the goals of a program. We have observed that both the method of assessment along with fitness testing directly and positively affected our school programs, both athletically and academically.

It was hypothesized that fitness levels were linked to achievement, and 4 years ago Barriere Secondary held the unfortunate title as one of the lowest achieving schools in British Columbia. As the PE department head, I wanted to do what I could to help students become more successful. In the first year of teaching at Barriere Secondary, the fitness levels were incredibly low. We were confident that exposing students to a higher standard and setting the expectation of achievement as a culture within the school, students would strive to excel. Now in the fourth year, we can honestly say any of our top fitness achievers can compete against any high-school student in British Columbia!

The PE department of Barriere Secondary prides itself on accurately portraying both the Provincial Governments’ Mandate for Physical Education programming as well as a reflection of the needs of a rural school and community. The strength of the PE program is based on common expectations for participation, a variety of programming and activity, and a consistent structure for program delivery. It is my sincere belief, that although there are high standards for this program, the students of Barriere Secondary continue to challenge themselves to achieve. I am proud to be a teacher at Barriere Secondary School and have been blessed to be a part of such a dynamic community.

 - April Hamilton, Physical Education Coordinator