Arkansas and Mississippi superintendents' attitudes toward K-6 physical education in the public school

Lisa Gay Williams


One objective of Healthy People 2000 is to increase physical education class time by at least 50% to allow students to spend more time in physical activity. In addition, the Council on Physical Education for Children (1992) indicated that children should be provided recurrent and meaningful age-appropriate practice times to develop understanding of movement concepts. This study consisted of 97 Arkansas superintendents and 91 Mississippi superintendents who volunteered to participate and were given the Superintendents' Attitudes Toward Physical Education questionnaire (SATPE) which asked about their attitudes toward K-6 physical education in the public school. Both Arkansas and Mississippi are considered to be rural states and were found to be similar in size according to the mean number of students enrolled in each school and a compatible match was assumed. This allowed for a comparison between Arkansas, which has state mandates requiring elementary physical education, and Mississippi which has no state mandates for the offering of elementary physical education programs. A Pearson's correlation, t-test, regression, and factoral analysis were performed on the data. The factor structure of 28 questionnaire items yielded five factor components. These factor components were named implementation of programs, barriers to implementation, requirements for implementation, benefits of physical education programs, and physical education curriculum concerns. The results indicated that a greater number of Arkansas superintendents held bachelor's degrees in physical education and a greater number of Mississippi superintendents held bachelor's degrees in social studies. Although a greater number of Arkansas superintendents held degrees in physical education, it was revealed that they are less likely to support any aspect of elementary physical education. In addition, the longer Arkansas superintendents were in education the less likely they were to support K-6 physical education. On the other hand, Mississippi superintendents were more likely to support elementary physical education programs the longer they were in education, even though most did not have a physical education background. Mississippi superintendents were also more likely to purchase equipment, books, and workbooks for schools, teachers, and students. Mississippi superintendents were also interested in paying a certified physical education specialist from outside the district to train classroom teachers in physical education curriculum. The SATPE, Appendixes, and references are included.