The Physical Educator's Perception of the Adequate Implementation and Overall Impact of the Healthy Students Act of Mississippi
Obesity is an epidemic among Americans that is threatening the health status of citizens and having a major impact on overall physical and psychological well being. Physical education can play a vital role in containing obesity by contributing to the development of physical fitness and assisting students in planning a healthy lifestyle. The "Healthy Students Act of Mississippi" was passed in 2007 and implemented in the public schools in the fall of 2008. This new legislation requires participation of physical activity-based instruction in the public schools. The subjects for this study consisted of 111 individuals charged with the responsibility of teaching physical education in the public schools of Mississippi. A survey was disseminated by mail in the fall of 2008. The survey consisted of 39 questions related to demographic data and perceptions of the adequate implementation and overall impact of the "Healthy Students Act" of Mississippi. The specific purposes of this study are to determine the perceived impact of the "Healthy Students Act of Mississippi" on the prevention of obesity, academic performance, and to determine the perceptions of the physical educators on the adequate implementation of the "Healthy Student Act of Mississippi. Descriptive statistics were used to analyze each of the 39 questions. An independent-samples t-test was calculated to compare the perceptions of the elementary and middle school teachers to the high school teachers on the positive impact on prevention of obesity among Mississippi students, t (98) = .305, p= .761, and revealed no significant difference. A t-test was performed to determine the difference in the perceived impact on academic performance between elementary and middle, and high school teachers. There was no significant difference between the two groups (t (98) = 1.46, p = .147). A one-way ANOVA was used to analyze the perceptions of elementary and middle school physical educators in comparison to high school physical on adequate implementation F(2,108) = .764, p = .468 and overall impact (F(2,107) = .628, p= .535) of the "Healthy Students Act". No statistically significant differences were found among each group, therefore we failed to reject the null hypothesis. A one-way ANOVA was use to analyze the perception among physical educators, when controlling for class size and amount of time spent in physical education class, and no statistically significant difference was found. This research also investigated the perceptions of the physical educators on the factors that must be in place in order to provide a quality physical education program. The results showed that certified PE teachers was the most important factor, (M = 2.93) followed by adequate facilities, (M = 3.27), and support of the administration, (M= 3.81). The overall impression of the potential impact of the "Healthy Students Act of Mississippi" was somewhat positive, although several methods of implementation of the mandates of the "The Healthy Students Act" must be addressed in order to see dramatic improvements in the overall health status of the students in the schools of Mississippi.