Bureau of Audit
Audit Report on the Department of Educationís Compliance with the Physical Education Regulations in Elementary Schools
October 4, 2011
AUDIT REPORT IN BRIEF
This audit determined whether New York City School Districts are in compliance with key provisions of the New York State Education Department's (SED's) Physical Education Regulations for students in elementary schools.
Support for delivering physical education in New York City public schools is primarily provided by the Office of School Wellness Programs (OSWP). OSWP is a joint collaboration between the Department of Education (DOE) and the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DOHMH) and was created in 2010. OSWP was formerly known as the Office of Fitness and Health Education (created in 2007), and prior to this change was called the Office of Fitness and Physical Education (created in 2003).
During May 2003, in conjunction with DOHMH, DOE conducted a study of students in elementary schools. Using height and weight measurements of a representative sample of public elementary school students, researchers concluded that nearly 50 percent of kindergarten through fifth grade students were overweight or obese.
Chapter 11 of the Regulations of the Commissioner of the SED requires all schools under the jurisdiction of the SED to provide a program of health, physical education, and recreation. Section 135.4 of Chapter 11 (Physical Education Regulations) requires the trustees and boards of education to develop and implement school district plans to provide physical education to all pupils. The current plans should be kept on file in the school district office and should be filed with the SED. In addition, the Physical Education Regulations provide the minimum frequency and time requirements of physical education that is to be provided to the students in kindergarten through Grade 12.
Audit Findings and Conclusions
DOE is not in compliance with the SED's Physical Education Regulations for elementary-level students and middle-level students in elementary schools. DOE does not have an overall written physical education plan nor does it monitor schools' compliance with the regulations. Therefore, DOE has no assurance that the students in elementary schools are receiving the minimum required physical education. In fact, our review of a sample of 31 elementary schools found limited evidence that any of the sampled schools were in compliance with the SED physical education requirements for all of its students.
Based on our findings, we make seven recommendations, including that DOE should:
- Ensure that it creates, implements, and regularly updates a physical education plan that includes all requirements of the SED physical education regulations for all schools under its jurisdiction and ensure that a current plan is appropriately filed with the SED.
- Ensure that it adequately monitors its schools' compliance with the physical education requirements of the SED's Physical Education Regulations.
- Ensure that principals are aware of the SED's physical education requirements and advise them that it is their responsibility to ensure that their students receive the minimum physical education requirements.
In their response, DOE officials generally agreed with five of the audit's seven recommendations. DOE officials disagreed with the recommendation to ensure that DOE adequately monitors schools' compliance with physical education requirements and did not directly address the recommendation to require that principals certify whether students are receiving the minimum required physical education.