ISPE needs to be more rigorously enforced

January 19, 2016 — by Neil Rao and Roland Shen

With the school’s independent study physical education (ISPE) program on the rise, the administration should implement more regulations to ensure that these top athletes are making real progress in their sports.

ISPE, the school’s program for student athletes who compete at a state or national level and practice 10 or more hours per week, grants participants the same credit that a school sport or P.E. class would give.  

Unfortunately, because there are so few ways to verify that students are following the requirements, some are able to take advantage of this special program to avoid participating in physical fitness classes or school sports.

For instance, some sports such as karate and taekwondo have no real ranking systems, making it nearly impossible to determine whether the participant is actually ranked statewide or nationally.

In addition, some participants lie about completing their full 10 hours of practice every week because the school has no foolproof way of verifying their practice logs. Students can easily get away with doing nothing for weeks.

Those who take advantage of the ISPE program in this manner demean students who actually do participate in rigorous physical activities and put in the requisite 10 hours each week.

In order to prevent abuse of the ISPE program, the administration should enforce the regulations more strictly. The best way to enforce the rules is through a thorough check of their forms.

Currently, some athletes simply have their coaches sign the form without telling them what it is for. Others lie to them about what the form is about. The paper is a simple sheet log where students record their attendance; all the coach has to do is sign at the bottom. Because the form requires little to no prior verification of the coach’s acknowledgment of the students ability, it is easy for students to lie about the form or sign it themselves.

Furthermore, some coaches are unaware of what the form is for, so they often have no idea that they are being used to unrightfully grant physical education credit.

To combat this, the school should require these coaches to submit independent evidence of the athlete’s training and ability through training logs that show what the student did during each practice, not just the student turning in a paper with a signature and a total number of hours. By doing so, the school will be able to differentiate those who should be in ISPE from those who should not be.

Even if some sports do not have a clear boundary between regular competitors and state or national ones, the second step should be to strengthen is the 10-hour rule.

Some athletes are turning in forms that state that they practice for 10 hours a week, yet these numbers can be exaggerated or even falsified. The forms require students to state how many hours they practiced, but they don’t demand any proof with the exception of a single signature that can easily be forged. The administration should instead ask for clear schedules of the students’ daily practices and require some kind of documentation that comes straight from coaches as opposed to students.

The ISPE program definitely makes sense for athletes who spend a lot of their own time practicing their sport. Though the program has a lot of potential, it should only allow dedicated athletes who follow all the standards of the program to reap its benefits.