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School Credits Physical Activity for Higher Test Scores

Before Robert Gray Elementary School joined the Alliance for a Healthier Generation’s Healthy Schools Program, student test scores fluctuated wildly. The school had never been able to make progress on end-of-year standardized tests for two consecutive years. However, in 2009 the school joined the Healthy Schools Program. In 2011 the school received the Bronze National Recognition Award from the Alliance for its efforts in creating a healthier campus. That year the school saw an increase in test scores.

This past summer Robert Gray received the Silver National Recognition Award from the Alliance for sustaining its efforts and adopting even more health-promoting policies and programs. And recently, for the first time ever, the student body at Robert Gray Elementary met its progress goal for the second year in a row. When the principal heard the results of the testing, it was the physical education teacher, Marquel Hatcher, whom she first celebrated with as she attributed the positive test results to their combined efforts.

Hatcher said, “The research doesn’t lie. This didn’t happen by accident. I know because of what we did that everyone’s scores are higher.” Hatcher shared that his principal has become so inspired by their work that she has decided to go back to school for a PhD and wants to research the remarkable connection between physical activity and academic performance that she witnessed in her own school.

Here are some examples of changes that have occurred at Robert Gray since joining the Healthy Schools Program:

  • Three times a week the PE teacher gets on the school TV channel to lead the school in 10 minutes of physical activity.
  • Once a week there is a morning activity club for 4th-6th graders before school.
  • The school has stopped selling food for fundraisers. Now it offers candles and other non-food items.
  • The wellness council started a Zumba class for staff and plans to start a new employee exercise class in January.
  • In order to earn the Silver National Recognition Award the school nurse had to buy salad dressings for the cafeteria that are compliant with the Alliance’s nutrition Guidelines.
  • The PE teacher teamed up with the music teacher to increase the number of PE minutes for all students by teaching dance during the music period.