ERIC Identifier: ED406361
Publication Date: 1997-03-00
Author: Young, Judith C.
Source: ERIC Clearinghouse on
Teaching and Teacher Education Washington DC.
National Standards for Physical Education. ERIC Digest.
WHY SHOULD PHYSICAL EDUCATION BE TAUGHT IN THE SCHOOLS?
Physical education is an integral part of the total education of the child
and virtually every state, district, and school in the United States requires
physical education for its students (Pate et al., 1995). Quality physical
education programs are needed to increase the physical competence,
health-related fitness, self-esteem, and enjoyment of physical activity for all
students so that they can be physically active for a lifetime (Seefeldt &
Vogel, 1986). Knowing that physical activity promotes health is not enough:
students must be given opportunities to gain the knowledge and skills needed to
adopt active lifestyles. Physical education teaches students how to add the
habit of physical activity into their daily lives by aligning instruction with
the National Standards for Physical Education, and by providing content and
learning experiences that develop the skills and desire to be active for life.
VALUES OF PHYSICAL ACTIVITY
Physical activity improves
muscular strength and endurance, flexibility, and cardiovascular endurance, as
well as serves as a vehicle that helps children establish self-esteem and strive
for achievable, personal goals. The Surgeon General's report, Physical Activity
and Health (1996) concludes that regular moderate physical activity can
substantially reduce the risk of developing or dying from heart disease,
diabetes, colon cancer, and high blood pressure. The American Heart Association
(1995) recommends that all children aged 5 years or older should engage in at
least 30 minutes of daily physical activity at a moderate intensity and vigorous
physical activity for 30 minutes at least 3 days per week.
Acknowledgment of the contributions of school physical education to health
led to the inclusion of two national objectives that are related to school
physical education in Healthy People 2000, the U.S. Department of Health and
Human Services national health objectives (1990):
Objective 1.8--Increase to at least 50% the proportion of children and
adolescents in grades 1-12 who participate in daily school physical education.
Objective 1.9--Increase to at least 50% the proportion of school physical
education class time that students spend being physically active, preferably
engaged in lifetime physical activities.
The Surgeon General's report calls school-based physical education "the most
widely available resource for promoting physical activity among young people in
the United States," (Physical activity and health, 1996; p. 237) and recommends
that "every effort should be made to encourage schools to require daily physical
education in each grade and to promote physical activities that can be enjoyed
throughout life." (p. 6)
NATIONAL STANDARDS FOR PHYSICAL EDUCATION
In 1986, the
National Association for Sport and Physical Education (NASPE) appointed its
Outcomes Committee to answer the question, "What should physically educated
students know and be able to do?" The result of the Outcomes Project was a
definition that includes five major focus areas, specifying that a physically
*has learned skills necessary to perform a variety of physical activities,
*is physically fit,
*participates regularly in physical activity,
*knows the implications of and the benefits from involvement in physical
*values physical activity and its contribution to a healthful lifestyle
(National Association for Sport and Physical Education [NASPE], 1995a).
Following the work of the Outcomes Committee, a Standards and Assessment Task
Force was appointed to develop content standards and assessment material based
on the previous work. The standards document developed by this group had the
*to establish content standards for the physical education school program
that clearly identify consensus statements related to what a student should know
and be able to do as a result of a quality physical education program; and
*to establish teacher-friendly guidelines for assessment of the content
standards that are consistent with instructionally integrated orientations
toward the role of assessment in teaching and learning.
In "Moving into the Future: National Standards for Physical Education, A
Guide to Content and Assessment," (NASPE, 1995a) a general description of each
content standard is first presented, followed by presentation of the standards
according to grade level: K, 2, 4, 6, 8, 10, and 12. Within each grade level,
the standard is further defined, followed by a listing of the key points of
emphasis for that grade level. Sample performance benchmarks, which describe
developmentally appropriate behaviors representative of progress toward
achieving the standard, are also presented. Lastly, a variety of assessment
techniques appropriate for assessing student achievement of the specified
content standard is described.
The National Standards for Physical Education indicate that a physically
1. Demonstrates competency in many movement forms and proficiency in a few
2. Applies involvement concepts and principles to the learning and
development of motor skills.
3. Exhibits a physically active lifestyle.
4. Achieves and maintains a health-enhancing level of physical fitness.
5. Demonstrates responsible personal and social behavior in physical activity
6. Demonstrates understanding and respect for differences among people in
physical activity settings.
7. Understands that physical activity provides opportunities for enjoyment,
challenge, self-expression, and social interaction.
Since 1850, when the first physical training of students in schools began,
the emphasis of school physical education has expanded from physical training
and calisthenics to performance-related fitness and the development of
competitive sports skills. Today the focus of contemporary physical education is
on health-related fitness and the behavioral competencies and motor skills
needed for lifelong engagement in healthy and satisfying physical activity.
A quality physical education curriculum includes:
*mastery of basic skills and understanding of motor skills related to a
variety of physical activities so that each individual can make positive
decisions about physical activity choices;
*experiences that encourage children to question, integrate, analyze,
communicate, and apply cognitive concepts about motor skill and physical
*opportunities to improve social and cooperative skills, and gain a respect
and appreciation for diversity; and
*use of fitness education and assessment to help children understand, enjoy,
improve, and/or maintain their physical health and well-being. IMPLICATIONS FOR
INSTRUCTION AND PROGRAM SUPPORT To maximize the opportunities to learn in
physical education, a range of factors must be available. These include time in
the schedule, reasonable class size, adequate facilities and equipment, a
well-planned curriculum, appropriate assessment procedures, qualified teachers,
and positive administrative support (NASPE, 1992a, 1992b, 1992c, 1994a, 1994b,
1995b, 1996). In the continuing quest to make physical education experiences
more personally relevant to children and youth, new developments in learning
theories, structuring of subject matter, and new perceptions concerning growth
and development must be continuously considered, evaluated, and implemented. The
teacher plays the central role in the success of a physical education program
and priority must be given to employing qualified elementary, middle, and
secondary school physical education teachers to maximize student learning and
achievement. Quality physical education is both developmentally and
instructionally appropriate for the specific children being served.
Instructionally appropriate physical education incorporates the best known
practices, derived from research and experiences in teaching children, into a
program that maximizes opportunities for learning and success for all. Students
should also use technology in today s physical education classes to explore
fitness and motor skill concepts in ways that personalize the curriculum more
than ever before. Heart rate monitors, video and digital photography, computer
software, and equipment to measure body composition are a few of the tools made
possible by technology. Teacher preparation is critical to successful school
physical education programs. NASPE standards for beginning physical education
teachers (1995c) outline standards in nine areas: content knowledge, growth and
development, diverse learners, management and motivation, communication,
planning and instruction, learner assessment, reflection, and collaboration.
These standards provide the basis for guidelines for professional preparation of
physical education teachers who have sound knowledge and understanding of
kinesiology (the content of physical education) and are also knowledgeable and
skillful in the pedagogy that is needed to transmit this knowledge to students.
CONCLUSION Quality physical education programs taught by well-trained physical
education specialists play a significant role in promoting the health of
children and, ultimately, adults. The National Physical Education Standards
provide a framework for structuring programs that will develop physically
educated children to help the nation to reach its health goals for children and
References identified with an EJ or ED number have been abstracted and are in
the ERIC database. Journal articles (EJ) should be available at most research
libraries; most documents (ED) are available in microfiche collections at more
than 900 locations. Documents can also be ordered through the ERIC Document
Reproduction Service: (800)443-ERIC. American Heart Association. (1995).
Strategic plan for promoting physical activity. Dallas, TX: Author. Healthy
people 2000: National health promotion and disease prevention objectives.
(1990). (DHHS Publication No. (PHS) 91-50212). Washington, DC: U.S. Government
Printing Office. NASPE. (1992a). Program guidelines and appraisal checklist for
physical education, middle school. Reston, VA: Author. NASPE. (1992b).
Developmentally appropriate physical education, elementary. Reston, VA: Author.
NASPE. (1992c). Program guidelines and appraisal checklist for physical
education, secondary. Reston, VA: Author. NASPE. (1994a). Program guidelines and
appraisal checklist for physical education, elementary. Reston, VA: Author.
NASPE. (1994b). Developmentally appropriate physical education, early childhood.
Reston, VA: Author. NASPE. (1995a). Moving into the future: National standards
for physical education, A guide to content and assessment. Reston, VA: Author.
NASPE. (1995b). Developmentally appropriate physical education, middle school.
Reston, VA: Author. NASPE. (1995c). National standards for beginning physical
education teachers. Reston, VA: Author. NASPE. (1996). Developmentally
appropriate physical education, secondary. Reston, VA: Author. Pate, R. R.,
Small, M. L., Ross, J. G., Young, J. C., Flint, K. H., & Warren, C. W.
(1995). School physical education. Journal of School Health, 65(8), 312-318. EJ
520 865 Physical activity and health: A report of the surgeon general. (1996).
Atlanta, GA: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Disease
Control and Prevention. Seefeldt, V., & Vogel, P. (1986). The value of
physical activity. Reston, VA: AAHPERD & NASPE. ED 289 866