National Standards for PE in Kindergarten through 12th Grade

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The American Alliance for Health, Physical Education, Recreation, and Dance (AAHPERD) recently announced a new name, a new mission, and a new vision. Now called the Society of Health and Physical Educators (SHAPE), or more commonly referred to as simply SHAPE America, it is the largest organization of physical educators in the U.S., boasting nearly 20,000 members.

SHAPE America is the result of a unification of five, national associations, as well as a research consortium, which were all organized under the former AAHPERD umbrella.

SHAPE America, has a distinct vision – to shape:

  • A future where healthy is the norm
  • A standard of excellence in physical education and health education
  • The lifelong habits of young people
  • Policy related to physical education and school health education

As such, SHAPE America recognizes that the goal of physical education is to help develop students in such a way that they gain knowledge of physical fitness principals and the confidence and skills to enjoy a lifetime of healthful physical activity. To be able to enjoy a lifetime of healthful physical activity, SHAPE America recognizes that physically literate individuals must:

  • Learn the skills necessary to participate in a variety of physical activities
  • Understand the implications and the benefits of physical activities
  • Participate in regular physical activity
  • Be physically fit
  • Value physical activity and the role it plays in a healthful lifestyle

SHAPE America National Standards and Grade-Level Outcomes in Physical Education: Kindergarten through 12th Grade

SHAPE America’s National Health Education Standards provide states and local school districts with a springboard on which they can develop or revise their existing curricula and standards. These national standards are designed to address what students should know and be able to do as a result of a quality physical education program from kindergarten through 12th grade.

Physically literate individuals should be able to successfully complete the following:

  • 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

After employing the above standards, state and local school districts gauge student outcomes based on an established set of national standards:

Elementary School Outcomes (K-Grade 5): By the end of elementary school, students will be able to demonstrate competence in basic motor skills and a combination of skills. They will also be able to possess basic movement concepts in small practice tasks, gymnastics, and dance and will be able to identify a number of basic fitness concepts. Students in these formative years should be able to accept their abilities and others’ abilities in physical activities and be able to understand the benefits of a physically active lifestyle.

Middle School Outcomes (Grades 6-8): By the end of middle school, students should be able to apply a number of strategies in modified game play and demonstrate fundamental movement skills in a number of different settings and environments. Students in this age group should also be able to participate in self-guided physical activities, collaborate and work together with other classmates, and accept individual differences. They should also be actively engaged in physical activity for both self-expression and enjoyment.

High School Outcomes (Grades 9-12): By the end high school, students will be fully prepared to demonstrate their readiness for careers or college through their ability to plan and implement any number of personal fitness programs. They will also be able to demonstrate their competency in at least two lifetime activities while modeling responsible behavior associated with physical activity. These young adults should also be actively participating in physical activities that challenge them, encourage social interaction, and result in self-expression and personal enjoyment.

Components of a High-Quality Physical Education Program

SHAPE America recognizes that quality physical education programs help students develop physical competence, health-related fitness, positive attitudes about physical activity, and cognitive understanding, all of which allow students to adopt healthy and physically active lifestyles.

As such, SHAPE America identifies the four components of a high-quality physical education program:

  1. Opportunity to Learn

All students must have access to regular physical education. Physical fitness should be consistent with class size, and students should have access to adequate equipment and facilities.

  1. Meaningful Content

Physical education programs should have a written, sequential curriculum for all grades, which is based on state and/or national standards for physical education. Physical education instruction in motor skills should be designed to enhance the physical, social/emotional, and mental development of each child and should help children understand, improve, and maintain their physical well-being. It should also provide many opportunities to improve social and cooperative skills and develop a multi-cultural perspective.

  1. Appropriate Instruction

Appropriate instruction involves the full inclusion of all students, well-designed lessons, lessons that support out-of-school learning and practice, and an abundance of opportunities for class activities. Physical activity should never be used or withheld as punishment and should always be regularly assessed as a way to monitor and reinforce student learning.

  1. Student and Program Assessment

Assessment should always remain an ongoing, vital part of physical education programs and student assessments should always be aligned with state and national physical education standards. Physical education program elements should be assessed in order to ensure they support a quality physical education.