California Considers Ending PE Exams in Schools

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A proposal by California governor Gavin Newsom would ban the state’s physical education exams in the state for three years.

Under the current law, schools are required to administer the tests to students in the 5th, 7th and 9th grades, excluding those students with disabilities.

Newsom argues that the tests can lead to body shaming, as well as bullying of transgender and special education students.

The current test assesses physical fitness, including strength, endurance and flexibility. Specifically students must complete a one-mile run, push-ups and a modified pull-up. The test also determines students' body mass index.

The California Department of Education has received complaints from school districts that the test’s BMI screening discriminates against students who identify as gender non-binary because it requires them to select a gender, H.D. Palmer, a spokesman for the governor’s Department of Finance, told The Sacramento Bee.

Under Newsom's plan, the tests would be cancelled but students would still be required to take PE classes to graduate.

If the tests are halted, Newsom wants a complete revamp of the tests. He’s asking education leaders in the state to consult experts in fitness, gender identity and disability to make recommendations about what to do about the tests moving forward. By November 2022, Newsom’s proposal requires the state schools chief to submit a report of the recommendations to lawmakers, the Newsom administration and the State Board of Education.

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