Physical Education Common Core Standards

Common Core is a relatively new term in educational circles across the United States, but its impact on how our children learn is quite significant. Although Common Core Standards, at this point, are aimed at language arts and mathematics, teachers in other subjects, including physical education, are being encouraged to integrate Common Core Standards. In fact, physical education teachers across the nation are now learning methods of assessing, implementing, and instructing Common Core Standards into their physical education curricula.


What is Common Core?

The Common Core is a set of national standards designed to create standard assessments for English language arts and mathematics. Forty-three states have already voluntarily adopted these national standards. Adopting these national standards means adhering to common learning goals, which ensures that standards are consistent throughout the country. In other words, Common Core Standards were designed to “level the playing field” among students and ensure that students are college and career ready, regardless of the state in which they receive instruction.

Common Core State Standards, which were launched in 2009, is a state-led effort that was developed with assistance from state leaders, commissioners of education, and governors from 48 states. Up until that point, nearly every state had its own definition of proficiency and their own set of learning standards. This lack of standardization from state to state was the main reason why the Common Core State Standards were adopted. Originally these standards were designed as college- and career-readiness standards, although today’s standards have now incorporated K-12.

How is Common Core Incorporated into Physical Education Programs?

Although Common Core Standards are primarily focused on math and English language arts, extending these standards into all subject areas, including physical education, is a common practice, as it ensures full integration of a student’s overall educational program.

Common Core may be integrated into a physical education program, at any grade level, by:

  • Providing verbal cues and instruction
  • Introducing new vocabulary words
  • Practicing counting using multiples when keeping score
  • Spelling out words related to physical education
  • Providing students with informational texts on game rules
  • Applying physical education vocabulary through writing exercises


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What Type of Physical Education Programs or Activities Can be Used to Incorporate Common Core Standards?

There are a number of physical education activities and programs that can incorporate and support Common Core Standards:

Bulletin Board – Create a bulletin board that provides everything from student instructions to tasks that must be accomplished. The bulletin board may include everything from important vocabulary words, such as health terms, names of muscle groups, and movement words, to physical activity schedules and nutrition articles.

Educational Brochures – Ask students to create educational brochures about any number of physical education-related subjects, such as the importance of good nutrition or how to maintain a healthy body. Post the brochures onto your PE bulletin board and encourage the students to read their classmates’ brochures.

Station Activities – Create station activities, which include written station cards at each station. Each station card provides in-depth written instructions, which promotes critical thinking and comprehension practice.

Skip Counting – During daily exercises or stretches, encourage the students to practice skip counting.

Creating Graphs and Charts Encourage students to keep score or track of the class’s physical education activities and then use the information to create graphs and charts.

Setting and Assessing Goals – Encourage students to write down their goals before the start of a new activity. After the conclusion of the activity, students can then revisit their goals and write a post-assessment about what they learned or what they could have done better.

Supplemental Materials – Hand out supplemental materials to students that provide additional information regarding the sport or activity they are engaged in. A unit on tennis, for example, may be supplemented with materials covering the history of tennis, profiles of famous athletes, or even fun facts about the sport.

Health and Fitness Journals – Have students create and maintain their own health and fitness journals, which can be used to track and record their fitness goals for the entire year.

Shared Reading – Pass out physical education read-alouds, which encourage shared reading. Students can read long as you read instructions to a game or activity.

Creativity and Presentation – Split students into groups and encourage them to create a new game. Rules and directions for the new game must be written down, and students can then provide the class with a demonstration of the game.

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How and When do Teachers Incorporate Common Core Standards into Physical Education?

Incorporating Common Core Standards should include the following:

  • Physical education should incorporate Common Core instruction within activity time.
  • Instructional time should focus on social, psychomotor, and/or cognitive skills.
  • Reading, writing, and mathematics should be integrated into existing PE activities, not replacing them.
  • Common Score lessons in a physical education program should be simple and straightforward; in other words, physical education teachers should not force a link to a Common Core Standard.

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