In 2014, SHAPE America released National Standards & Grade-Level Outcomes for K-12
Physical Education. One of the key changes to this
third iteration of the national standards was the incorporation of the term physical literacy, in
the goal of physical education, along with the following definition (Mandigo, Francis, Lodewyk & Lopez, 2012):
Physical literacy is the ability to move with competence and confidence in a wide variety of
physical activities in multiple environments that
benefit the healthy development of the whole person.
Setting the Standard
Not only is physical literacy comprehensive in conveying
what SHAPE America is trying to accomplish in physical education, it also parallels
terminology used in other subject areas, such as math literacy and health
Including physical literacy into the National Standards gives
educators a framework for producing physically literate individuals, setting
students on the road to enjoying a lifetime of healthful physical activity.
In 2015, SHAPE America was part of the working group charged
with developing a strategic plan for introducing physical literacy as a desired
outcome for all children living in the United States. The 15-member group was convened by The
Aspen Institute and supported by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.
As part of its report, Physical Literacy in the United States, the group issued the following
succinct definition of physical literacy:
Physical literacy is the ability, confidence, and desire to be physically active for
How Does Physical Literacy Connect to PE + PA?
Physical education (PE) develops
the physically literate individual through deliberate practice of
well-designed learning tasks that allow for skill acquisition in an
instructional climate focused on mastery.
During physical education class, students practice the knowledge and skills they have learned through physical activity (PA), which is defined as any bodily movement that results in energy expenditure.