Fourth Round of Funding Allows Irving ISD To Bring Heart Rate Training to High School PE Students
The hard work Sandi Cravens did two years ago to secure a portion of her school district’s Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) allocation continues to pay dividends for Irving (Texas) Independent School District’s middle school students.
At the beginning of the 2019-20 school year, Cravens received a fourth round of ESSA Title IV, Part A funding to add more IHT ZONE wrist heart rate monitors to Irving ISD’s wellness curriculum. The federal funding enables Cravens to build on a physical education curriculum focused around heart rate.
Each of Irving ISD’s eight middle schools has at least 80 IHT ZONEs. Students share the monitors throughout the day. New this year, two high schools are receiving ZONEs for the first time as the program expands beyond middle school.
“When I sat down with the director in charge of federal funds for the first time, I walked him through our proposal,” Cravens, Irving’s Health and Physical Education Coordinator, said. “After that, we are just building on the same proposal. I don’t have to come up with something completely new every year.”
Connecting Students to the Benefits of Physical Activity
Irving’s middle schools began using the ZONE monitors during the 2017-18 school year. Most teachers have learned what works best to help students form a connection to their physical fitness that goes beyond simply participating in class to earn a grade.
“We refer to the wall banner a lot, asking students where they think they should be and why,” Cravens said. “That’s really taking it to a higher level for the students. We’re giving them a connection to physical activity for a reason other than a grade commensurate to health.”
Since introducing the technology, Cravens has seen positive changes in student motivation. Students are:
- motivated to get moving quickly,
- motivated to get into their target heart rate zones, and
- motivated to meet the daily goal for minutes spent exercising there.
Teachers spend less time getting students organized and on task, which enables them to observe students more closely and have more meaningful conversations either during or following each session.
“Students are seeing that connection in real-time rather than just a blind, general encouragement,” Cravens said. “There are much more to the conversations between student and teacher now.”
Expanding Heart Rate Training into Irving’s Elementary, High Schools
By expanding the program into the high school level, Cravens satisfies the original ESSA requirement that funding must be used for new programs. She presented Natividad with a detailed plan prior to receiving her latest round of ESSA funding.
“We’ve changed our parameters a little bit,” she said. “I submitted a few bullet points as part of a new proposal . We are expecting to see the same health benefits we see at the middle school level. We just needed to detail the new plan for high school use.”
Singley Academy and Cardwell Prep, two of the district’s high schools, will also use the ZONEs during PE classes, and Cravens hope to see a similar understanding by students of how heart rate impacts fitness and well-being.
This year’s expansion also includes John Haley Elementary School, where a research study will measure the impact the heart rate monitors have on students who wear them throughout the day.
Cravens said it became essential to her that Irving continue on the same path to student wellness that she began with her first proposal to purchase IHT’s heart rate technology. Three years and four successful ESSA funding requests later, she likes the progress that’s being made.
“Students are learning to self-manage their activities to give their best effort, and teachers are learning to let go a little bit and trust that students will be okay,” Cravens said. “With the middle schools, we are using the monitors every day on every campus. I was visiting classes and saw students moving, working hard and feeling good. All of our teachers have a system in place.”
With those results, Cravens feels confident that the semester and year-end reports she gets from her teachers will show how students have improved their fitness as well. That, she says, keeps her motivated to request more funding so the district can reach more students.
“I don’t want to reinvent the wheel,” Cravens said. “He understands what we are doing with the money and knows that we are using it wisely.”