Date of Graduation

Spring 2018

Document Type

Honors Research Project

Degree Name

Bachelor of Science


Exercise Science - PrePhysical Therapy

Research Sponsor

Brian Miller

First Reader

Melissa Dreisbach

Second Reader

Melissa Smith


Purpose: To examine the physical education requirement, factors that affect physical activity levels for grade-school children, and how physical activity can affect academic achievement. The purpose of the present investigation is to demonstrate a relationship between physical education, physical activity, and academic achievement in K-8th graders.

Hypothesis: Increased physical education in grade-school will be associated with higher academic achievement, higher levels of physical education will be associated with greater amounts of physical activity outside of the classroom.

Methods: Participants were children selected from secondary, publically available, de-identified data from the nationwide Early Childhood Longitudinal Study, Kindergarten 2011 (ECLS-K: 2011). . Data collections began in kindergarten from a nationally representative cohort of 16,464 children in the fall and spring of the 2010-2011 school year and this cohort was tracked through 8th grade.

Results: Sex had significance on IRT scores (Male=1, Female=2). On average, females students had higher 1st grade reading IRT scores [ß=2.22, p<0.001] and 8th grade math IRT scores [ß=1.99, p<0.001]. Students’ BMI was significant to their IRT scores across grades and subjects with a lower BMI associated higher average IRT scores. . Physical education was only found to have a significant relationship with academic achievement in first grade in the subject of mathematics [ß=0.14, p=0.013]. Regarding PA, data was only available for 1st grade. In the 1st grade, physical activity was significant for mathematics and science IRT scores [ß=0.09, p=0.007 and ß=0.18, p<0.001 respectively].