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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.

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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 recommended Iowa Physical Education Standards (Copyright 2013, SHAPE America – Society of Health and Physical Educators, PO Box 225, Annapolis Junction, MD 20701, All rights reserved. Used with permission.).

Guidance for Physical Education Standards

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High-Quality Physical Education Videos and Handout

One-sheet Handout: High-Quality Physical Education is the Foundation for a Healthy Life


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Physical Education Compliance

Grade level requirements for physical education are found in Iowa Code 256.11 and Iowa Administrative Code 281–12.5.

Physical Education and High School Programs Information

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Adapted Physical Education

The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) and the Iowa Administrative Rules of Special Education require schools to provide free appropriate public education (FAPE) in the least restrictive environment (LRE). “Special education” specifically lists, “instruction in physical education,” requiring all students to have access to appropriate physical education instruction. States and schools are required to provide equal opportunity to participate in physical education and extracurricular athletics by children and youth with and without disabilities.

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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 Instruction webpage for more information.

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Teaching Endorsements in Health & Physical Education

For the requirements for teaching endorsements in physical education, use the following links:

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School Wellness Newsletter

The School Wellness newsletter is a monthly communication sharing updates and resources related to school wellness.

Sign up to get the School Wellness newsletter

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