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The effects of physical education on student fitness, achievement, and behavior

, , Department of Economics

Economics of Education Review Volume 72, Number 1, ISSN 0272-7757 Publisher: Elsevier Ltd


Despite the mounting evidence that physical education (PE) has health and education benefits for elementary-aged children, much less is known on the effectiveness of such programs for older children. To study the effects of PE on adolescents, we analyze the impact of Texas Fitness Now (TFN), a four-year $37 million grant program that mandated daily PE for middle-school students in low-income schools. Using a regression discontinuity approach to exploit the cutoff in school eligibility, we find that daily PE mandates do not lead to overall improvements in student fitness, including cardiovascular endurance, strength, and flexibility. Although we show that the program was ineffective at changing average student body composition, estimates indicate a reduction in the proportion of obese students. Using individual-level school records data, we find that PE does not lead to positive spillover effects in the classroom, including improvements in standardized test scores, or increases in attendance for 6th, 7th and 8th graders. Instead, we provide some evidence to suggest that PE reduces attendance rates and increases disciplinary incidents for middle-school students.


Packham, A. & Street, B. (2019). The effects of physical education on student fitness, achievement, and behavior. Economics of Education Review, 72(1), 1-18. Elsevier Ltd. Retrieved December 7, 2023 from .

This record was imported from Economics of Education Review on June 3, 2019. Economics of Education Review is a publication of Elsevier.

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