Document Type

Book Chapter

Publication Date



International Business and Management



Publication Title

Handbook of Physical Education Research: Role of School Programs, Children's Attitudes and Health Implications


Background: The Pennsylvania Department of Health (PADoH) launched the Active Schools Program (ASP) to encourage daily physical activity. ASP schools instituted a minimum of 30 minutes of daily physical education (PE). Control schools maintained their standard schedule of non-daily PE. Both administered a fitness assessment at the beginning and the end of the school year.
Objectives: Do students at schools with daily PE have significantly better outcomes than students at schools without daily PE? We examine performance at the midstream Behaviors level and at the downstream Health outcomes level.
Behavioral outcome measures include changes in curl-ups, push-ups and mile run. Health outcome measures include change in BMI and change in BMI percentile (dB%) which adjusts for age and sex differences.
Method: Thirty ASP schools and nine control schools provided complete pre- and post-assessments (NASP = 6,693, Ncontrol = 3,513). ASP schools were allowed to purchase commercial programs from a list provided by PADoH or they were allowed to propose their own program.
This led to five ASP subsamples: three multiple schools subsamples (HOPSports® [9 schools, 2,066 students], SPARK™ [7 schools, 1,069 students], and CATCH® [2 schools, 601 students]); "Other" aggregates together schools which chose HEALTHY PE, Physical Best, and Project Fit America® (331 students); and "Own" includes schools that created their own program by purchasing fitness equipment or creating a fitness course or a walking trail (9 schools, 2,626 students). Statistical analysis employs difference between means tests and regression analysis. Treatment effect size is measured using standardized mean difference (SMD).
Results: The ASP was successful in altering obesity outcomes in middle school students relative to students at control schools. The most successful individual programs studied were HOPSports® and SPARK'"'. CATCH® and Other schools had more ambiguous overall effects. Own schools did significantly worse on dB% but better on each behavioral outcome than control schools. In general, health SMDs were more modest than behavioral SMDs but significant health outcomes were present, especially for HOPSports® and SPARK™.
In general, females had a relatively higher treatment effect on health outcomes and males had a relatively higher treatment effect on behavioral outcomes at schools with formal programs. These effects are most equally balanced at HOPSports @. SPARKTM was the only program studied in which all five outcome measures favored males.
For at-risk students (B% ≥: 85), regression analysis of dB% as a function of starting B%, behavioral outcome measures, sex, and program suggests that much of the health outcome benefit is due to differences in behavioral outcomes achieved by individuals involved in daily PE. A significant program effect remains for HOPSports ® and CATCH® but not SPARK™ once one controls for behavioral outcomes. Change in push­ ups and change in mile run were significant predictors for all program subsamples, but change in curl-ups was not statistically significant for the HOPSports ® SPARK'"', and Other subsamples.
Conclusion: Students exhibit positive health benefit from access to daily PE relative to students without daily PE. Those benefits are greater for midstream behavioral outcomes than downstream health outcomes.


Published as:
Erfle, Stephen. "Analyzing the Effects of Daily Physical Education in Middle Schools on Obesity: Evidence from Pennsylvania’s Active Schools Program." In Handbook of Physical Education Research: Role of School Programs, Children's Attitudes and Health Implications, edited by Ricky Todaro, 91-108. New York: Nova Science Publishers, Inc., 2014.

This author pre-print is made available on Dickinson Scholar with the permission of the publisher. For more information on the published version, visit Nova Science Publisher's Website.

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