Facilitators and Barriers to Adopting Evidence-Based Physical Education in Elementary Schools

in Journal of Physical Activity and Health


Evidence-based physical education (EBPE) programs have increased physical activity (PA) by as much as 18%, yet widespread adoption has not occurred. Understanding school facilitators and barriers to PE should prove useful to EBPE dissemination efforts.


Pairs of principals and PE teachers from 154 schools (75 Adopters and 79 Non-Adopters) from 34 states completed questionnaires. Differences between Adopter and Non-Adopter schools were tested using t tests or Wilcoxon Signed Rank Tests and chi-square analyses.


Principals and teachers reported distinct PE curriculum adoption decision making roles, but few viewed themselves as very involved in program evaluation. Teachers in Adopter schools were more satisfied with PE program outcomes and had greater involvement in teacher evaluation and program decision making. Compared with teachers, principals were generally more satisfied with their school’s PE program outcomes and did not share the same perceptions of PE barriers. However, principals also demonstrated a general lack of PE program familiarity.


To facilitate EBPE adoption, dissemination efforts should target both principals and PE teachers. Increasing principal’s knowledge may be instrumental in addressing some teacher perceptions of barriers to PE. Strategic advocacy efforts, including targeting policies that require PE program evaluation, are needed.

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Lounsbery is with the Dept of Sports Education Leadership, University of Nevada–Las Vegas. McKenzie and Smith are with the Dept of Exercise and Nutritional Sciences, San Diego State University, San Diego, CA. Trost is with the Dept of Nutrition and Exercise Sciences, Oregon State University, Corvallis, OR.

Journal of Physical Activity and Health