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National Standards for Physical Education

Instructor: Brittany Cross

Brittany teaches middle school Language Arts and has a master's degree for designing secondary reading curriculum.

What should a student in a PE class be able to know and do at each grade level? In this lesson, we'll look at an overview of national physical education standards provided by SHAPE America. These standards can be followed exactly or act as a baseline for all school districts nationwide.

National Standards in PE?

While it is common knowledge that there are national standards for core content subjects, such as English and math, it may be a shock to some that courses like art, dance, and physical education have national standards as well.

Currently, it is not mandated that schools adhere to a set of national physical education standards, and many states have adopted or created their own standards, or expectations, for K-12 physical education. The Society of Health and Physical Educators, however, offers a set of national standards that can act as a springboard for states and local districts to either develop or revise their own standards. Better known as SHAPE America, the standards that they have developed span from kindergarten through 12th grade and provide a scope and sequence of what students should know and be able to do as a result of a quality physical education program.

SHAPEing the Vision of Physical Education

SHAPE America is the largest organization of physical educators in the United States. Combining the efforts of five national associations and a research consortium, the organization is working towards the goal of designing physical education courses that help students to not only gain knowledge of physical fitness, but also gain the confidence and skills to enjoy a lifetime of healthful physical activity.

The national SHAPE America standards rely on five core anchor standards. These anchor standards are true for every grade level and demonstrate what a physically literate individual is able to do. Within each grade level, there will be specific age and ability-based outcomes that progress vertically through the grade levels.

Anchor Standards:

Standard 1: Demonstrate competency in a variety of motor skills and movement patterns

Standard 2: Apply knowledge of strategies, principles, tactics, and concepts related to movement and performance

Standard 3: Demonstrate the skills and knowledge to achieve and maintain a health-enhancing level of physical activity and fitness

Standard 4: Exhibit responsible personal and social behavior that shows respect for self and others

Standard 5: Recognize the value of physical activity for challenge, health, self-expression, enjoyment, and social interaction

Given these 5 anchor standards, competency and evidence outcomes are then determined for different grade levels. For a broad overview, let's look at the basic elementary (K-5th grade), middle (6th-8th grade), and high school (9th-12th grade) outcomes.

Elementary School Outcomes

  • Students will be able to demonstrate competence in basic motor skills and a combination of skills.
  • Students will be able to process basic movement concepts in small practice tasks, gymnastics, and dance.
  • Students will be able to identify a number of basic fitness concepts.
  • Students should be able to accept their abilities and others' abilities in physical activities.
  • Students should be able to understand the benefits of a physically active lifestyle.

Middle School Outcomes

  • Students should be able to apply a number of strategies in modified game play.
  • Student should demonstrate fundamental movement skills in a number of different settings and environments.
  • Students should be able to participate in self-guided physical activities, collaborate and work together with other classmates, and accept individual differences.
  • Students should be actively engaged in physical activity for both self-expression and enjoyment.

High School Outcomes

  • Students should be fully prepared to demonstrate their readiness for career or college through their ability to plan and implement personal fitness programs.
  • Students will be able to demonstrate competency in at least two lifetime activities with responsible behavior.
  • Students should be participating in physical activities that challenge them, encourage social interaction, and result in self-expression and personal enjoyment.

Implementing the Standards

When developing a strong physical education program, it is the belief of SHAPE that there are 4 components that must aid in the implementation of standards:

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