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Physical Education and Health Education


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The Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) includes physical education and health education as part of a “well-rounded” education that should be offered to all students. Physical education and health education have positive associations with academic growth and achievement, attention and concentration, and lifetime healthy habits. While physical education and health education offer complementary knowledge and skills, they are separate academic subjects with separate regulations, requirements, and standards.

Iowa's recommended physical education and health education standards were approved and adopted by the Iowa State Board of Education on March 28, 2019, based on public input and review team recommendations. See the final report from the Physical Education and Health Education Review Team.

Physical Education Standards

Quality instructional programs in physical education are essential for building skills, advancing knowledge, and contributing to dispositions toward physical activity at all stages of life. Iowa adopted the Society of Health and Physical Educators (SHAPE) America standards and grade level outcomes for Iowa’s recommended Physical Education Standards.

Guidance for Physical Education Standards

Physical Education Compliance

Specific requirements for physical education are listed in the 281—Iowa Administrative Code Chapter 12 Rule Interpretation Matrix document.

Guidance for Physical Education for Students with Disabilities

Health Education

Health education may be a stand-alone course or integrated into Physical Education or other relevant courses in Grades K-8. A quality health education program provides students with the knowledge, attitudes, and skills they need to make health-promoting decisions, achieve health literacy, adopt health-enhancing behaviors, and promote the health of others (Lewalen, 2015).

Visit the Health Education webpage for more information.

Teaching Endorsements in Physical Education and Health

In Iowa, teacher licensure is handled by the Iowa Board of Educational Examiners. For the requirements for teaching endorsements in physical education and health, use the following links:

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Related Resources

Iowa Healthy Kids Act

School Wellness Policy

Whole School, Whole Community, Whole Child

Comprehensive School Physical Activity Programs

Society of Health and Physical Educators (SHAPE) America