Published: December 17, 2008

State Health and Physical Education Graduation Requirements

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the prevalence of childhood obesity in all age groups has increased two-fold over the last two decades. Advocates have recommended that schools offer classes on health and physical education courses as a way to promote a healthier lifestyle among the nation’s youths.

In Diplomas Count 2008, the EPE Research Center used data from the Education Commission of the States to examine the numbers of course credits states required to earn a standard diploma for the 2007-08 school year. Results show that the bulk of required credits are in such core academic subjects as English, mathematics, science, and history. However, 39 states and the District of Columbia also required students to take at least one health or physical education course. Four states – Arizona, Oklahoma, South Dakota, and Wyoming—did not require physical education or health credits for graduation. Seven states left this decision up to local education agencies.

For more state-by-state data on graduation requirements and other topics, search the EPE Research Center's Education Counts database.

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