State Board OKs P.E., STEM rules

(CORRECTED, to reflect the fact that the State Board-approved rule does not require high school students to take two credits of physical education.)

Two proposed rules — one to ramp up physical education requirements, and a second that could expand  enrollment in STEM courses — are headed to the Legislature.

The State Department of Education proposals received the State Board of Education’s approval Friday.

Here’s a closer look at both rules:

Physical education. The rule would require elementary schools to offer at least 60 minutes of P.E. per week, while middle schools would be required to offer 200 minutes of P.E. on a bi-weekly basis.

High school students would also be required to receive instruction in cardiopulmonary resuscitation.

STEM. High school students would be allowed to use dual-credit courses in engineering and computer science and Advanced Placement computer science classes to satisfy math or science graduation requirements. These courses are now offered only as electives.

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The state of Washington passed a law in 2013 allowing science, technology, engineering and math classes — the so-called “STEM” disciplines — to be used as a graduation requirement.

“Computer science and engineering are critical subjects in the new economy. Yet, in Idaho we only offer these courses as electives. This rule change allows students to make the choice to take these courses and count them as core graduation requirements. It’s an exciting change that could yield countless benefits for our students and the Idaho economy,” Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Luna said in a news release.

The proposed rules must be approved in January, by either the House or Senate education committee. If approved, these rules carry the force of law.

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