The PASS Class

“As a result of having the PASS program at our school,
we’ve seen students achieve higher grades and
better attendance, and feel a greater sense of belonging.”

—Frank Gold, Former Principal
Tamalpais High School


Promoting Achievement in School through Sport (PASS) is a yearlong, interdisciplinary, academic course in which middle and high school students improve their overall grade point average and their physical performance. This is done by bringing the positive aspects of sport culture into the classroom, and by having the students study the fundamentals that lead to success in sports and apply these fundamentals to their scholastic work and physical activity.

PASS integrates several disciplines, including language arts, social studies, psychology, philosophy, and physical education. Using reading, writing, speaking, and group work assignments, PASS teaches students critical thinking, problem solving, time management, goal setting, self-monitoring and evaluation, teamwork, and personal responsibility.

An elective class for any student—not just athletes—PASS is self-paced, mastery-based, and project oriented. Students set individualized goals for improving their grade point averages and physical performance. They then identify the Fundamentals of Athletic Mastery* (FAMs), derive FAM-related principles, and apply these principles to an academic and physical action plan the students develop and implement to achieve their goals.

The students regularly monitor and evaluate their progress toward their goals once the action plan is implemented. At the end of the school year, the students produce a formal paper on their project.

In addition, in order to keep those at home apprised of the students’ progress, parents/guardians are involved in scheduled activities throughout the school year.

Through this comprehensive process, students develop the attitude, knowledge, and skills that translate into increased success and fulfillment in their coursework and their physical pursuits.

Since 1989, through the PASS program, the American Sports Institute has demonstrated that an increased emphasis on the study and practice of sport—when presented in an appropriate way and integrated into an academic curriculum that is self-paced, mastery-based, and projected oriented—inspires students and teachers to perform well in school.

* Over a five-year period, American Sports Institute staff conducted research on the fundamentals of mastery in sports, those fundamentals that accomplished athletes and coaches indicated were the factors that determined success. The responses fell into eight basic categories, which led to the creation of the Fundamentals of Athletic Mastery or FAMs. The eight FAMs include:

                                                 •  Concentration                      •  Rhythm

                                            •  Balance                                •  Flexibility 

                                            •  Relaxation                            •  Instinct

                                            •  Power                                   •  Attitude


What PASS Is, What PASS Is Not

The PASS Class is . . .

  • A yearlong, full-credit, academic course that integrates sport with language arts, social studies, psychology, philosophy, and physical education.
  • Designed for middle and high school boys and girls who want to improve their grades and physical performance, and who want to work toward fulfilling their potential.
  • Taught by a certificated teacher at your school.
  • An elective that can be positioned as a humanities, social studies, or physical education course.
  • A mastery-based, self-paced, project-oriented class that creates an esprit de corps among the students.
  • A program that actively involves parents/guardians.
  • A program that includes an annual evaluation of student academic progress, measured against that of a control group.

The PASS Class is NOT . . .

  • An after-school or lunch program.
  • A tutorial or mentoring program.
  • An extracurricular program.
  • A drop-in program.
  • A remedial program for students who struggle academically.

Student Objectives

The PASS curriculum is built around the eight Fundamentals of Athletic Mastery, from which are derived the eight student objectives listed below. In both academic and physical pursuits, PASS students will improve their ability to:

  • Concentrate over a prolonged period of time, being able to focus on the task at hand and block out distractions and negative thoughts.
  • Be balanced when physically active and to balance their time, both in and outside of school.
  • Relax and stay in control when in class, taking tests, doing homework, and participating in physical activities.
  • Exert appropriate amounts of power without undue stress.
  • Establish rhythm by maintaining regular schedules and activities.
  • Be flexible in order to establish better relationships with teachers and classmates, be open to new ideas, and remain injury-free.
  • Trust and act on instinct in order to enhance test scores, creativity, decision making, and reactions.
  • Develop an attitude consisting of patience, perseverance, and staying positive in order to see things through to their completion.

Units of Study

The PASS curriculum is organized into five, carefully-sequenced units of study:

Unit Focus Time Frame
Mini-Camp Orientation to PASS September
Training Camp Identification of the FAMs and creation of the Academic and Athletic Action Plan October-December
Pre-Season Pilot-Testing of the Action Plan January
Regular Season Implementation and monitoring of the Action Plan February-May
Championship Evaluation of Action Plan results and recognition of student achievements May-June

Class Activities

In the PASS class, students participate in:

  • A daily concentration practice that improves mental focus.
  • Daily physical activities that improve oxygen intake and increase alertness.
  • Individual reflection and group discussion activities that require critical thinking.
  • Goal-setting activities that focus on academic and physical success, development and implementation of strategies for achieving these goals, and evaluation of progress.
  • Daily and weekly routines that recognize, challenge, inspire, and reward all students.
  • Reading, writing, and oral presentation assignments.

Benefits for Students

PASS students develop skills in critical thinking, planning, problem solving, time management, and working in teams. As a result, PASS students improve their:

  • Confidence and self-esteem
  • Attitude and behavior
  • Relationships with peers, teachers, and other adults
  • Performance in their other school and sports activities
  • Grades

Student Quotes and Impact on Their Grades

“I improved my grades by using the FAMs. Instead of talking to my friends, I concentrated on what the teacher was saying, and when the teacher gave homework, I balanced my time. I learned how to work harder and not give up so easily.”
—Eugene improved his grades from a 2.8 to a 3.5.

“I feel closer to the kids in the PASS class than in any other class I’ve taken.”
—Shannon improved her grades from a 3.5 to a 4.0.

“If it hadn’t been for PASS, I wouldn’t have graduated from high school. Before that, I was just messing around.”
—Wayne, a potential dropout, went on to college.

“Before, I always went to school just for the sports. I wouldn’t study that much. When I lost eligibility, it felt shameful not to play. Now I concentrate on school and my sports.”
—Carlos improved his grades from a 1.3 to a 2.5.

“With the PASS class, I feel like I can do anything that I want to do, instead of saying ‘I can’t’.”
—Kay gained self-esteem.

“PASS is a great class if you want to take control of your life, make a change, do better, and learn something about yourself.”
—Jessie improved her grades from a 3.6 to a 4.0.