Published Mar. 9, 2023
BY SHAYLA DUTTA
Physical education classes have been in a state of near-constant change over the past few years, and for Carmel High School, a pause on the freshman PE physical fitness test has ensured that the 2022-23 school year is no different with changes to CHS course offerings and athletic elective curriculums.
Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, CHS offered students the opportunity to opt out of California’s two-year requirement for physical education in high school, as the state permitted students who passed five out of six physical fitness tests at the end of their freshman year to waive out of the second required year. This waiver was not intended to be applied as broadly as it was by CHS but, until this school year, was technically permitted.
Now, the fitness test standard has been put on hold, and as such there is no standard to determine whether students can waive out of their second year of PE, equivalent to 10 of the 20 required credits.
“California is taking a three-year period to evaluate the fitness test,” explains CHS PE teacher Debbie French, noting that part of the evaluation included removing the body mass index portion of the test. “We’re still testing five out of five, but right now there’s no more exemptions.”
As CHS previously had no second-year PE class, the CHS yoga, dance and weight training classes, formerly only offered as electives, are now one of two options sophomores have to fulfill their second-year PE requirement, according to assistant principal Craig Tuana. The other possibility is “sophomore Athletic PE,” in which students derive the same credits as those who play two or more sports.
However, it’s not as simple as merely rebranding the classes as year-two PE classes. According to French, as well as CHS PE instructor Phillip Johnston, California has specific standards outlined for each year of PE that must be addressed to earn credit. For freshman PE, the required units include aquatics, a swim unit; dance; individual and dual sports, currently taught through archery and badminton, and physical fitness testing. Year two must include team sports, tumbling and gymnastics, combatives and physical fitness.
To meet these requirements, French and Johnston are attempting to incorporate these topics into their weight training curriculums, even though they don’t necessarily align with the main idea of the class. According to Tuana, the course descriptions will be altered for the 2023-24 school year to reflect these changes.
“They’re asking us to teach second-year standards that should be a second year of PE for the sophomores in our elective courses,” French says. “So now you have courses that were electives before, and they’re no longer just elective courses.”
CHS dance and yoga teacher Kristine Tarrozi says she appreciates the flexibility this offering for PE affords students.
“I think this is the best situation,” says Tarozzi, adding that it has not been a strain adding in the year two standards to her courses. “Students at our school like having weight training, dance and yoga, so incorporating what we need into what already exists is the best plan.”
Even though the elective classes are making adjustments, French voices concern that not all CHS sophomores are being instructed on every standard. For example, it’s unlikely that those who take athletic PE will be given self-defense and gymnastic instruction in football, lacrosse or other school sports.