top of page

Understanding the New SHAPE America Physical Education Standards for 2024

I'm excited to share some important news that has recently come from SHAPE America that's set to make a significant impact on our work as physical education teachers. SHAPE America has been at the forefront of advocating for excellence in physical education, and their latest initiative continues this proud tradition. The release of the new National Physical Education Standards marks a pivotal moment for physical educators, providing fresh direction and inspiration for our programs across the country.

Understanding the New SHAPE America Physical Education Standards for 2024

These standards come at a pivotal moment. As educators, we're constantly adapting to new challenges and opportunities in teaching, and physical education is no exception. The aim of these standards is clear: to elevate physical education through a comprehensive approach that encompasses physical literacy, emotional well-being, and the joy of movement. They promise to redefine what it means to provide high-quality physical education that meets the needs of every student.

Understanding the New SHAPE America Physical Education Standards for 2024

The emphasis is on equipping our students with the knowledge, skills, and attitudes necessary for a lifetime of active living. From developing motor skills to understanding the value of physical activity for personal health and well-being, the standards cover it all. Whether you're in a bustling city school or a quiet rural district, these standards can provide a framework to develop, assess, and refine our teaching practices, ensuring every child benefits from a meaningful physical education experience.

In this article, I'll take an outside dive into the heart of these new standards, exploring each one and unpacking what I think is their significance for our teaching practices and students' learning. I'll look at how they compare to the previous standards and consider the ways they'll shape our curriculum, influence our teaching methods, and enhance our students' physical education journey.

Click the links below to JUMP  to a section:


A Look Back at the 2013 Standards

Before I explore the exciting new developments, let's take a moment to reflect on the foundation that set the stage for the new Shape America standards for 2024. The 2013 National Physical Education Standards set the bar for what high-quality physical education should look like, guiding our practices and programs to help define what a student should know and learn in PE classes for nearly a decade. These standards played a pivotal role in shaping the way we teach and how our students perceive and engage with physical activity. Understanding where we've been is crucial as we navigate towards where we're headed.

A Look Back at the 2013 Standards

The 2013 standards were built around five core principles designed to cultivate physically literate individuals—students who not only have the skills to be active for life but also understand the importance of such a lifestyle. Here's a brief overview:

1 - Motor Skills Competency: The first standard emphasized the importance of developing a wide range of motor skills and movement patterns. This foundational skill set was all about ensuring students could move with confidence and competence in a variety of physical activities.

2013 Standard 1: The physically literate individual demonstrates competency in a variety of motor skills and movement patterns.


2 - Knowledge Application in Movement: Beyond just moving, the second standard focused on applying knowledge of concepts, strategies, and tactics related to movement and performance. It encouraged students to think critically about how and why they move, fostering a deeper understanding of physical activity.

2013 Standard 2: The physically literate individual applies knowledge of concepts, principles, strategies and tactics related to movement and performance.


3 - Physical Activity and Fitness: This standard aimed at instilling knowledge and skills for a health-enhancing level of physical activity and fitness. It was about more than just being active; it was about understanding the components of fitness and how to achieve and maintain a healthy lifestyle.

2013 Standard 3: The physically literate individual demonstrates the knowledge and skills to achieve and maintain a health-enhancing level of physical activity and fitness.

2013 Standard 3: 


4 - Personal and Social Responsibility: Recognizing the social aspect of physical activity, this standard addressed the importance of responsible behavior that respects oneself and others in the physical activity setting. It underscored the values of respect, teamwork, and social interaction within physical education.

2013 Standard 4: The physically literate individual exhibits responsible personal and social behavior that respects self and others.


5 - Value of Physical Activity: Lastly, the standards highlighted the significance of recognizing and appreciating the benefits of physical activity for health, enjoyment, challenge, self-expression, and social interaction. This principle aimed to foster a lifelong appreciation and commitment to an active lifestyle.

2013 Standard 5: The physically literate individual recognizes the value of physical activity for health, enjoyment, challenge, self-expression and/or social interaction.

These five standards collectively laid a strong foundation for health and physical education, emphasizing a comprehensive approach to physical literacy. They underscored the importance of not just physical skills but also cognitive understanding, emotional engagement, and social responsibility.

SHAPE America. (2013). National Standards for K-12 Physical Education. Reston, VA: Author.


The Revision Journey for the 2024 Standards

Embarking on a journey to refresh and revitalize the National Physical Education Standards, SHAPE America initiated an ambitious revision process in early 2021. This endeavor, led by the dedicated members of the National Physical Education Standards Task Force, was not just about making updates; it was about reimagining physical education to meet the evolving needs of today's students and tomorrow's world.

revitalize the National Physical Education Standards, SHAPE America

From the outset, the task force committed to a collaborative and transparent approach. Recognizing that the best insights come from those who are in the trenches of education, the task force sought the perspectives of a diverse group of stakeholders. This included Physical Education Teacher Education (PETE) faculty known for their academic expertise, preK-12 practitioners who bring day-to-day classroom experiences, and importantly, students—the very heart of all our efforts. Each voice was essential in shaping a comprehensive view of what physical education can and should be.

To ensure a wide range of input, the task force employed several innovative methodologies:

  • Town Halls: These open forums provided a platform for stakeholders from various backgrounds to discuss their visions for the future of physical education, share best practices, and highlight the challenges and opportunities within current PE programs.

  • Student Voice Survey: With over 4,600 responses, this survey was a critical component of the revision process. It offered direct insights from students, giving them a say in their physical education experiences. This feedback was invaluable, highlighting student preferences, needs, and the impact of PE on their overall well-being.

revitalize the National Physical Education Standards, SHAPE America

  • Public Review Rounds: In the spirit of transparency and inclusivity, the task force facilitated three rounds of public review. This allowed educators, administrators, and the wider community to examine the proposed standards, offer constructive feedback, and contribute to the fine-tuning of the standards.

This revision journey was comprehensive, inclusive, and deeply committed to capturing the essence of what physical education should represent. The process was a testament to SHAPE America's dedication to fostering a community-driven approach to educational standards, ensuring that the new guidelines would be both forward-thinking and deeply rooted in the needs and experiences of all stakeholders.


Overview of New National Physical Education Standards

The new National Physical Education Standards, released by SHAPE America, mark a significant leap forward in defining the outcomes of effective physical education programs. Central to these standards is the ambition to develop physically educated individuals who are committed to a lifetime of active, healthy living.

Overview of New National Physical Education Standards

These standards underscore the importance of holistic development, ensuring that physical education supports not just physical, but emotional, social, and cognitive growth. With a focus on consistency and quality, SHAPE America sets a high benchmark nationwide, aiming for all students to have access to exceptional physical education.

For states and local districts, these standards provide a critical framework for each of their schools to develop a quality physical education program. They offer a foundation for curriculum development, assessment strategies, and educator professional growth, adaptable to local contexts yet aligned with national excellence.

Overview of New National Physical Education Standards

In essence, the new standards by SHAPE America represent a visionary step towards more inclusive, engaging, and effective physical education, shaping a future where every student benefits from the lifelong advantages of being active and healthy.

For further details on the 2024 National Physical Education Standards, download the 2024 National Physical Education Standards Educator Kit located here on SHAPE America's website. This Educator Kit features the National Physical Education Standards, including their rationale, grade-span learning indicators, and much more. Discover the updates to the new standards and access a wealth of resources to share with administrators, colleagues, parents, and the broader community!


2024 National Standards - A Detailed Examination

The new National Physical Education Standards by SHAPE America are designed to provide a comprehensive and adaptable framework for physical education across the country. Let's delve into each standard, exploring its rationale, grade-span learning indicators, and the anticipated impact on PE curriculum and instruction.

Standard 1: Develops a Variety of Motor Skills

Rationale: The cornerstone of physical literacy is the development of a wide range of motor skills. This standard emphasizes the importance of students acquiring skills across different environments, which is fundamental to their physical development and supports their engagement in various physical activities throughout life.

SHAPE America Standard 1: Develops a Variety of Motor Skills

Grade-Span Learning Indicators: From early childhood through high school, indicators progress from basic motor skills like jumping, running, and throwing to more complex skills that involve strategy and teamwork. The objective is to ensure that as students grow, they build on their skills in a way that encourages lifelong physical activity.

Implications: For PE curriculum and instruction, this means incorporating a diverse array of activities that cater to developing motor skills at every grade level. Teachers are encouraged to create dynamic, supportive environments where students can explore and refine these skills.


Standard 2: Applies Knowledge Related to Movement and Fitness Concepts

Rationale: Understanding the concepts behind movement and fitness is crucial for students to become versatile movers. This standard focuses on the application of this knowledge, enhancing students' ability to perform a variety of physical activities and maintain their fitness.

SHAPE America Standard 2: Applies Knowledge Related to Movement and Fitness Concepts

Grade-Span Learning Indicators: Learning indicators here aim at gradually increasing students' comprehension and application of movement principles, from recognizing personal space in early grades to applying complex strategies in games and activities in later grades.

Implications: Curriculum development should integrate cognitive learning with physical skills, offering lessons that teach the why behind the movement. This approach fosters a deeper understanding and appreciation of physical activity, contributing to students’ overall well-being.


Standard 3: Develops Social Skills through Movement

Rationale: Physical education plays a vital role in developing social skills. Through movement, students learn to express empathy, engage respectfully with others, and resolve conflicts, cultivating a supportive community.

SHAPE America Standard 3: Develops Social Skills through Movement

Grade-Span Learning Indicators: Early indicators focus on fundamental interactions, such as sharing equipment and following instructions, evolving into more sophisticated skills like teamwork and leadership in higher grades.

Implications: PE programs are encouraged to create opportunities for cooperative learning, where students can practice communication, leadership, and empathy. This standard highlights the role of physical education in building a socially responsible and inclusive school culture.


Standard 4: Develops Personal Skills and Engages in Physical Activity

Rationale: This standard is about inspiring students to recognize and pursue physical activities that resonate personally, fostering a lifelong engagement with physical activity. It's about empowering students with the skills to set goals, reflect on their experiences, and find joy in movement.

SHAPE America Standard 4: Develops Personal Skills and Engages in Physical Activity

Grade-Span Learning Indicators: Indicators guide students from identifying activities they enjoy in early grades to setting and achieving personal fitness goals in high school, emphasizing self-expression and personal health.

Implications: The curriculum should encourage exploration and self-directed physical activity, helping students discover what they love about movement. It's about teaching students to see physical activity not just as a school subject but as a vital part of their lives.

You can view the new standards and Grade-Span Learning Indicators here.

National Physical Education Standards are used under license from SHAPE America. © 2024, SHAPE America, All rights reserved.


Grade-Span Learning Indicators

A key component of SHAPE America's National Physical Education Standards is the inclusion of grade-span learning indicators. These indicators serve as milestones for student development, offering educators a clear roadmap for what students should know and be able to do at various stages of their education. Here’s why they’re so crucial:

SHAPE America's Grade-Span Learning Indicators

Tailored Development: The learning indicators are designed to match the developmental stages of students, recognizing that children grow and learn at different rates. By segmenting these indicators into grade spans, the standards acknowledge and cater to the unique needs and abilities of students as they progress through their education.

Framework for Progression

Framework for Progression: While not intended for cross-grade alignment, these indicators provide a scaffolded framework that supports skill and knowledge development within each grade span. This approach ensures that learning in physical education is sequential and builds upon previous knowledge and skills, facilitating a more natural and effective progression of student learning and physical literacy.

Flexibility in Curriculum Design: By focusing on grade-span development rather than strict age or grade-level outcomes, the standards offer flexibility in curriculum design. This flexibility allows educators to adapt their teaching strategies and content to meet the diverse needs of their students, accommodating variations in development and learning styles.

Encourages Individualized Learning

Encourages Individualized Learning: The grade-span indicators encourage a more personalized approach to teaching physical education. Educators can use these indicators to identify where each student is in their physical and cognitive development, tailoring instruction to help them reach the next level in their personal physical education journey.

Basis for Assessment: These learning indicators also provide a basis for assessing student progress. They give teachers a set of benchmarks to evaluate whether students are developing the necessary skills and knowledge as they move through the grade spans. This helps in identifying areas where students excel or may need additional support, ensuring that all students have the opportunity to succeed in physical education.


Example Grade-Span Learning Indicators for Standard 1 - Grades 3-5:

1.5.1 Combines varied locomotor skills in a variety of practice tasks.

1.5.2 Demonstrates transferring weight from feet to hands and hands to feet in a non-dynamic environment.

1.5.3 Demonstrates rolling with the body in a non-dynamic environment.

1.5.4 Combines jumping/landing, rolling, balancing and transfer of weight from feet to hands in a non-dynamic environment.

1.5.5 Combines locomotor, non- locomotor, and manipulative movements based on a variety of dance forms.

1.5.6 Demonstrates jumping rope in a variety of practice tasks.

1.5.7 Demonstrates jumping and landing in a non-dynamic environment.

1.5.8 Demonstrates balancing on different body parts in a non-dynamic environment.

1.5.9 Demonstrates rolling a ball in a non-dynamic environment.

1.5.10 Demonstrates throwing in a variety of practice tasks.

The grade-span learning indicators represent a significant advancement in physical education, providing a structured yet flexible framework for developing skills and knowledge that are crucial for students’ growth and well-being.

You can view the new standards and Grade-Span Learning Indicators here.

National Physical Education Standards are used under license from SHAPE America. © 2024, SHAPE America, All rights reserved.


Impact on Teachers and Curriculum Development

The introduction of the new National Physical Education Standards is set to significantly influence how PE teachers approach their planning and teaching strategies. These new existing standards encourage educators to adopt a more holistic, inclusive approach to physical education, emphasizing not just physical skills but also emotional and social learning.

Influences on Planning and Teaching

  • Holistic Approach: Teachers are encouraged to design lessons that go beyond traditional physical skills to include emotional well-being and social skills, integrating these aspects into a cohesive learning experience.