LOHS should not limit PE proficiency credit to school sponsored sports

Sophia Wang, Editor-In-Chief

LOHS needs to update its Physical Education (PE) proficiency credit requirements to give all serious athletes the opportunity to earn PE credit, whether the sport is district sponsored or not. 

Currently, the district requires one total PE credit for graduation, with one semester credit earned in Required PE and the second semester as a PE elective. Years ago, a group of students successfully amended district policies so the second semester of class could be substituted with proficiency credit through participation in a high school or community school sport. Their efforts provided a good starting point for increased flexibility in class schedules and time management, but it’s time to add a new process that recognizes the equal levels of proficiency of students participating in non-district sponsored sports.

Beyond school sports, some students invest significant amounts of time to compete and train with clubs and groups outside of school, often at high levels. Many of these sports aren’t offered through the district at all – examples include figure skating, gymnastics, hockey, martial arts and rowing. It’s common to see students committing long hours of practice to these sports year round, far exceeding the minimum requirements for duration of physical activity in school sports or classes and even receiving regional and national recognition. While students playing school sports get the option to replace a semester-long PE class with a proficiency credit by filling out a quick form, their counterparts participating in equally intense activities not under district oversight are forced to fill their schedules with a redundant, required course. Though called a “proficiency credit,” the current system exclusively grants the opportunity to demonstrate proficiency to students playing school sports.

LOHS administrators cite concerns that the disconnect between external athletic organizations and district program structures could make it difficult to confirm that the other experiences still meet Oregon’s requirements for PE proficiency. However, the Oregon Department of Education states “if a school district has adopted policies to do so, a district may choose to allow a student to use non-classroom experience to meet the state and district’s established performance standards.” There are a range of options for students to demonstrate competency in this context, from video evidence to communication and collaboration with external coaches and supervisors. 

The same concept is already being applied to technology and engineering class requirements at LOHS. The district offers a credit approval process for independent internships, where academic experiences with external organizations can be used to replace LOHS classes for equal amounts of credit. As this precedent shows, making it possible for all student athletes to earn proficiency credit could involve only a simple form and the desire to improve the current policy.