School District To Require Students To Wear Heart Rate Monitors In Gym Class

By Darren Smith, Weekend Contributor

dubuque-schools-logoBeginning this school year, Dubuque, Iowa public school students in middle and high school are to be required to wear heart rate monitors to determine their activity levels in gym class. The heart rate will apparently be part of the grade they receive.

In an almost unbelievable new standard of measuring grades, the public school district in Dubuque believes that their cardio-vascular knowledge is of such expertise, that they can fully translate it somehow into a measure of a student’s progress.

WLEC News reports that Dubuque Schools Athletic and Wellness Director Amy Hawkins says this will also make writing report cards easier for teachers.

“It will be a large portion of their grade, because we want to grade them on what they’re actually doing in our class,” Hawkins said. “It really takes the opinion out of things. You know it’s not really ‘I think your kid is doing this and this in class.’”

One has to wonder if the idle ones are not the faculty of these schools in that they do not seem to believe that watching the students’ participation as it is done everywhere else is effective. Or, is it simply easier to just port the heart rate monitors directly into the grading software.

The value of these numbers is also questionable in terms of academic objectivity. All things being equal a comparison between a student with great athletic ability is going to have a lower heart rate than sedentary student during exercise or resting; that is in simple terms.

Should a student then have to explain why his heart rate has been lower than before because her physician prescribed medication that had an effect of lowering the heart rate? A student having a condition such as Essential Tremor could be prescribed a Beta Blocker which will as a side effect to this treatment lower the heart rate. If heart rate is the sole measure then a lower grade is possible. This also brings up ethical questions as to whether students should have to relinquish their doctor / patient privacy to contest a low grade. Also, there is the possibility of faculty members making diagnostic opinions and requiring students to be seen by health care professionals at a possible cost to the students’ parents.

One has to wonder at what point a student has a right to be free from complete control by a public school. Is something as personal as a heartbeat open to monitoring by a government agency?

By Darren Smith

Source: WLEC News

The views expressed in this posting are the author’s alone and not those of the blog, the host, or other weekend bloggers. As an open forum, weekend bloggers post independently without pre-approval or review. Content and any displays or art are solely their decision and responsibility.

37 thoughts on “School District To Require Students To Wear Heart Rate Monitors In Gym Class”

  1. Last I knew our children were not hooked up to monitors or tracked during the SATs and ACTs so I’m sorry I don’t quite follow your argument.

    In order for the children to see their heart rate data they must go up to the teacher to view it on the teacher’s iPad. By the time they get to the teacher, wait their turn behind other children doing the same, their heart rate data is no longer relevant. How are they supposed to adjust and make changes? Logging on to a website after the class to see how they did is not very helpful. Before spending thousands of dollars on equipment like this, the school should evaluate it’s practicality as now it would seem the use will be more so for grading purposes rather than a teaching element.

    I challenge the parents of Dubuque to research the monitor, compatible software applications and research what has happened in other schools with these monitors. Then ask yourself if there is a better alternative to teaching the relationship between target heart rate and exercise levels. So many parents today are removed from being an active participant in their children’s education. They rely on the schools to do what is right by their child. While teachers may have great intentions, the state and federal government have their own agendas.

  2. Polar has supplied every bit of info on these monitors! No GPS and No DATA sharing. Giving up your rights? Why by knowing what your kids are doing in class? Maybe you should make the same arguments on the ACT or SAT. All this district is trying to do is explain the benefits of being healthy. But I guess that is a bad thing. But we can tell kids you need to go to a special class for reading, math, and science, but we can’t encourage kids to be more healthy.

  3. There is nothing wrong with teaching our children the relationship between their work out levels and heart rates, or teaching them the benefits of working out at ones THR for twenty minutes. What is wrong is that activity of this nature should first be approved and monitored by a physician not a gym teacher. What is wrong is medical data is being collected on our children and will not be protected the same way it would be if collected by a healthcare facility. FERPA allows for third party sharing to evaluate educational programs and audits. So even though the District claims our children’s information will not be shared, it can be. The District throws the word FERPA out there and people are okay with data collection, but the schools are not going to tell you under FERPA that information is actually shared. One must go read on their own what can and cannot be done under FERPA. The less data collected on our children the better.

    How do we know the capabities of these monitors if the school hasn’t disclosed what type of Polar monitor will be used? The monitor may very well have GPS capabilities that will not be used.. Yet. The children will not be monitored at home.. Yet. Little by little we are giving up our rights. If we allow this now, what will we allow tomorrow? Parents have the right to decide if their children should be participants in this program. It’s crossing the line between education and medical care including invasion of privacy.

  4. Some these comments are so off based. Why is it wrong to monitor a students and give them an objective assessment of what they are doing in class. Why is wrong to teach young kids the importance of working out and monitoring your heart rate and activity levels? These devices are only collecting heart rate and activity, there is no GPS and are only worn during PE class. Also, this is nothing new in schools and PE. Have any of you seen the research behind academic test scores in relation to physical activity and brain waves after exercise? I would guess not after reading some of the post on this site. This is a very positive thing that this district is doing to help our youth become more healthy.

  5. Why stop at heart rate monitors in gym class?

    Should the Dubuque, Iowa public school system, using the same convoluted-logic that Wellness Director Amy Hawkins has foisted forth, wire students to EEG monitors in order to measure brainwave activity when students are studying?

    Can’t have any slouchers day dreaming… can we?

    1. personanongrata – like that idea. Hate when kids fade away when gold is issuing from my lips. Most annoying. Although, I have thought cattle prods would be the best approach.

  6. Max and Annie agree about it being for making sure they are okay.
    I was disappointed when I read more f the article because when I saw the headline I thght oh good this will help them find the kids with the unknown heart problems that could kill or damage them doing gym class.
    (I had letters from my docs when I was a kid that I could not take gym class. It was not infrequently that the teachers forced me to do the class anyway.)

  7. This should be a voluntary program with permission from Parents and Doctor. School doesn’t know conditions where Doctor recommends lower heart rate. We are all different. Democrats seem to forget that.

  8. Complete nonsense. There is no correlation that can support a grade impact here…. not to mention we are getting into HiPAA territory…

  9. When I was a child with untreated asthma (now I know that not only did I have untreated asthma, I also had and have alpha-1 anti-trypsin deficiency, which was and is slowly destroying my lungs), I was often gasping for air in phy-ed and was routinely criticized by teachers for allegedly being out of shape. My heart would be pounding at a very scary rate, I’d be gasping for air, and felt like I was dying. I wonder what sort of grade the Dubuque public schools would give a kid like me, whose heart was thundering, trying to move that blood along in an effort to get it oxygenated in malfunctioning lungs.

  10. I agree, there was that joke about how gym teachers got to be gym teachers. I’ve only ever known one gym teacher who would have been responsible about introducing a heart-rate monitor–and possibly the only one to make the heart-rate exertion connection! No–a trained gym teacher should be responsible for keeping an eye on the students, and should be looking for issues–not cruising social media while the kids do their thing. It ain’t that hard to see a kid who is really suffering as opposed to faking, no tech needed. I recently saw that scenario for myself, and am not happy about it. Insert geezerly generalization, “that’s the work ethic for you these days–pay me well; don’t ask me to do more.”

  11. I got my sex ed 101 from a pamphlet from a girlfriend. That pamphlet really made the rounds. Next class was in an old Hudson. 🙂

    There have been changes. There are sex ed classes in some middle schools as part of a class that includes cooking, sewing etc. Co-ed since both boys and girls need to know. Classes have basic biology, but also have interactive sessions about petting, intercourse, STDs, contraception, how to recognize that things are getting a bit too hot and how to cool them down. Girls learn (and boys confirm it) that boys will say absolutely anything for sex and they’re usually lying. The second rule for both is that NO means NO. It’s ok to say NO and NO is to be respected.

  12. As a kid I trained for swimming. My coach used heart rate for training. But my coach had complete knowledge of my training and knew I had an abnormally low heart rate, a family trait. Anyone training in a sport pushes themselves past pain – and you have a good sense of your limits. I dread what would have happened to me in a school gym class, when a non-medically trained PE teacher, who did not know me, would decide on the basis of heart rate alone, that I wasn’t trying hard enough. I wouldn’t like to be on the receiving end of that experiment.

  13. Monitoring someone else’s heart rate should be done by medical personnel, not a school teacher. It would be more productive if the school introduced nutrition education in their classes, teach them how to read labels and to know the many names for sugar and aspertame and to know the value of just plain water, and then have school meals that are healthy. Why shouldn’t the kids eat crxp when that’s what’s promoted by the school? I worked in a school and occasionally tried to eat at the cafeteria. The meals promoted obesity and diabetes. About the only thing I would eat was the yogurt and orange juice. The kids need to learn that one of the worst things for their diet is the sugar loaded drinks, including Gaterade. Such a program would be far more valuable that a teacher reading heart rate which varies in the students.

    1. bettykath – during my p.e. class we got sex ed. What happened to that? 🙂

  14. Very fit active kids are generally going to have a lower heart rate for a certain level of activity than couch potato kids. Are fit kids going to be punished for this? Are parents allowed to opt out? Are gym teachers going to design an individual “heart rate plan” for each student?

    This is a recipe for disaster when grading time comes around. It would be a lot more simple and fair if the gym teachers watched the students instead of standing around talking to each other as the kids do laps. Gym grades should be based on effort, not results.

    If I were a parent in Dubuque, I would not allow my child to wear the monitor.

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