What Is Physical Education?

Physical education provides students with a planned, sequential, K-12 standards-based program of curricula and instruction designed to develop motor skills, knowledge and behaviors for active living, physical fitness, sportsmanship, self-efficacy and emotional intelligence.   

SHAPE America has defined the essential components of physical education as:

  1. Policy and environment
  2. Curriculum
  3. Appropriate instruction
  4. Student assessment

Defining the essential components of physical education raises awareness for the critical policies and practices that guide school districts and schools in addressing students’ education needs. Physical educators, district wellness committees, and school administrators can use the Key Physical Education Resources to Support Healthy Schools menu to identify key resources that support each of the four essential components of physical education.

4 Essential Components
Policy and environment
Appropriate Instruction
Student Assessment


SHAPE America develops the national standards and guidelines for physical education, and offers extensive professional development opportunities, cutting-edge resources such as the newly released National Standards & Grade-Level Outcomes for K-12 Physical Education, and respected peer-reviewed journals to help you become a leader in your classroom, institution and community.

Other Tools and Resources
Elementary PE Teachers
Secondary PE Teachers
Adapted Physical Education
Pre-K and Early Childhood
Future Professionals




Featured Resources
National Standards & Grade-Level Outcomes for K-12 Physical Education

This text presents the new National Standards for K-12 Physical Education. It includes new, measurable grade-level outcomes for elementary, middle, and high school students. All outcomes are written to align with the standards and with the intent of fostering lifelong physical activity.

PE Metrics, 3rd Edition

This book aligns with SHAPE America’s National Standards and Grade-Level Outcomes for K-12 Physical Education, and as a result is a text that you can use with confidence as you help develop physical literacy in your students.

Developmental and Adapted Physical Activity Assessment 2nd Edition

Assessment in adapted physical education is not a simple task. Variables in assessment instruments and in the administration and interpretation of tests can sometimes generate more questions than answers. That’s why special education and adapted physical activity teachers have come to rely on Developmental and Adapted Physical Activity Assessment. Now in its second edition, this is the one of the only textbooks that focuses solely on assessment, providing valuable and in-depth clarity, guidance, and understanding in the principles and practical applications of assessment.

Effective Physical Education Content and Instruction With Web Resource

As a physical educator (or student preparing to become one), you need to know more than the skills, techniques, and tactics of the sports and activities you teach. You need to understand, among other things, how to create task progressions, how to organize and adapt those tasks, and how to detect and correct student errors. Effective Physical Education Content and Instruction will help you learn how to do just that.