Physical Education Learning Packets


Physical education (or “Phys Ed”) is a school subject that promotes psychomotor learning through play and movement exploration to foster health and fitness. Students acquire physical literacy – motivation, confidence, and knowledge of being active through sport – that enables them to value sports participation for life.

State policy stipulates a minimum weekly instruction time requirement of 150 minutes in elementary and secondary schools; however, many states allow waivers or substituting physical education classes with nonmedical purposes as an alternative option.


Physical education curricula are written plans outlining how students will learn and meet standards and outcomes at each grade level. A physical education curriculum should align with national and state standards and include learning objectives, units, and lessons for teachers. Curriculums should be regularly reviewed to ensure continuous improvement.

Research studies conducted over an extended period have demonstrated the power of physical education to significantly enhance children’s health, fitness, and quality of life (see Box 5-7). For physical education to have this impactful effect, however, its curriculum must go beyond simply offering instruction in specific sports or movements; rather it should focus on linking movement to body responses and consequences associated with leading an active lifestyle.

Quality physical education programs must also provide high-quality teaching by certified and licensed physical educators, which is not an easy feat given that only approximately 68% of elementary schools employ certified physical education specialists, while only 82% and 90%, respectively, of middle and high school teachers are licensed and insured. A quality program can only be ensured if school districts and individual teachers commit to an integrated approach to physical education, including professional development programs for novice and veteran teachers – for this purpose, the CDC offers its free self-assessment and planning guide known as Physical Education Curriculum Analysis Tool (PECAT).


Centralized curriculum decisions do not control physical education in the US but instead are implemented by state education agencies based on standards set forth by national professional organizations, leading to wide variations across schools in terms of curriculum and instructional opportunities. Research suggests that effective programs have included vigorous-intensity exercise sessions emphasizing motor skill acquisition and activities from games to sports and dance classes.

Studies have demonstrated a positive correlation between high-quality physical education programs, students staying on task in class, and increased grades and test scores. A data brief published by Springboard to Active Schools and CDC entitled Strengthen Physical Education in Schools [PDF – 437KB] summarizes this situation while offering strategies on how schools can enhance the quality of their programs.

Morgan and Hanson (2008) classify these barriers into three groups: Institutional, teacher-related, and student-related. Institutional barriers come from external forces beyond physical educators’ control, such as school policies or administrative directives; teachers can increase their self-efficacy through training in curriculum development, teaching methods, and support systems (such as SPARK’s research-based program that offers on-site teacher training with extensive follow-up support systems).


PE teachers frequently struggle to find assessment techniques that best meet the unique needs of their classes. PE instructors often rely on formative assessments such as self- and peer assessments for monitoring student learning, providing feedback, and adapting instructional strategies; such reviews do not count towards final grades for classes.

PE classes provide an excellent opportunity for authentic assessment – measuring student performance in situations that replicate real-world activities to provide a more comprehensive view of students’ abilities. Evaluating performances during games like baseball allows PE teachers to gauge more than just a student’s hitting ability; instead, they can assess decision-making and teamwork skills as well as overall skill.

PE teachers can utilize fitness-based formative assessment tools such as pedometers, heart rate monitors, and push-up testers as constructive assessment techniques for individual student comparisons. This type of evaluation reduces student demoralization as it’s conducted anonymously.

PE teachers can use summative assessments as an opportunity for their students to demonstrate their knowledge by creating a project. Such projects could require writing an essay on the effects of exercise or an oral presentation about running time analysis as performance criteria.


Students require access to self-contained, flexible learning activities, providing all the necessary equipment in one convenient pack – home, gymnasium, or classroom. Advantage Press offers student behavior improvement programs for grades 2 – 12, including physical education learning packets and Student Discipline Packets designed to refocus problematic behaviors while developing positive behaviors.

Physical education seeks to equip students with the skills and confidence necessary to enjoy and benefit from regular physical activity throughout their lives. Assessment is integral to physical education curriculums, providing insights for teachers and learners as they assess progress and provide guidance for further instruction.

Assessing physical education classes can be tricky because students may not clearly understand what it means to be evaluated in physical education classes. Assesses shouldn’t solely focus on an individual student’s ability to complete certain activities but on the overall understanding of key concepts within physical education lessons. This approach allows for an honest and open dialogue about evaluating a student. If tasks cannot be completed as teachers and instructors intend, adapted PE programming or credit flexibility.