In a search to discover effective means of reversing the marginalization in the field of physical education (PE), researchers have been studying exceptional PE programs that have not only broken down the growth-impeding barriers formed by changes in education, but have also successfully and consistently prevented new program barriers from developing. One such PE program, located in the southwestern United States, has been identified in former studies as having achieved and sustained Systemic Success in Physical Education (SSPE) for over four decades. Embedded in the SSPE model that this district uses to maintain dynamic growth and program sustainability are advocacy practices required of the PE practitioners for the purpose of obtaining and upholding the necessary support needed for program stability. The purpose of this qualitative follow-up study was to examine three things: (a) parent perceptions of this district-wide elementary PE program, (b) the advocacy strategies used by the physical education practitioners and (c) which factors parents believe most shape their perception of the program. Twenty parents from five different school that bridge the demographic make-up of the district were interviewed along with four teachers in the district, the PE district coordinator, and a Physical Education Teaching Education (PETE) professor from the partnering university for the purpose of triangulation to avoid researcher bias. The Inductive Content Analysis was used to create themes and subthemes until saturation. The results of this study provide valuable insight into the benefits of regular program advocacy and strategies which may be most beneficial in acquiring the support needed to construct and retain a fruitful and resilient program. The following six themes emerged from the data that represent the top factors that parents reported influence their perceptions of the PE program: (a) student enjoyment, (b) teacher passion, (c) teacher involvement and presence outside of the PE class, (d) teacher-to-parent communication, (e) program transparency, (f) and a well-structured and organized program. Researchers found the following key implications as the most important and beneficial take-aways from this study. Building strong relationships with parents helps parents better appreciate the intentions of the teacher and her goals for their children. The process of building effective relationships includes developing ample open channels of communication. Through these channels, teachers will strengthen parent connections by providing plenty of information regarding their children. This information should not only include what their child will be learning and when, and what information is needed to help their child be best prepared for what is to come; it should also include feedback about the progress of their child, particularly positive feedback. This pleasant form of communication is always welcomed and appreciated by parents, but is most beneficial early on because it opens the ears and hearts of parents straightaway. However, in order to win someone's heart, trust must be present, and one of the best ways to gain the trust of others is through transparency. When it is evident to parents that teachers believe enough in their program to make it open and available to the parents at all times, and proud enough of their curriculum to invite them to come see what it contains, parents trust that the teachers have nothing to hide and assume good things are happening. Taken even a step further, when teachers invite parents to be a part of the lessons, events, and activities, parents tend to acquire a sense of ownership; and it is very difficult to feel a part of something great and not provide loyalty and support in some way. Since such relationships, communication, and powerful programs that merit transparency take plenty of effort, passion, and time to develop, many PE teachers may question how one can manage such a feat and still accomplish all of the additional tasks most physical educators must endure as they attempt to break down common barriers that continually hinder their progress. They don't—at least not in this district. Many of these overwhelming responsibilities are nonexistent in the SSPE model due to the existence of a proficient and effective full-time district PE coordinator. Besides relieving the PE teachers of common overwhelming loads and program barriers, the district PE coordinator also heightens teacher effectiveness and motivation by holding them accountable and providing them with the ongoing professional development and support needed to win the hearts of the community through regular program advocacy practices. This alleviation provided by the district PE coordinator allows teachers to focus on what should be their top priorities: teaching and advocacy. Apparently, the existence of this crucial role makes an enormous difference in the program's success and sustainability.



College and Department

David O. McKay School of Education; Teacher Education



Date Submitted


Document Type





program advocacy, parent perceptions, physical education