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2020 CAS - Physical Education Standards Introduction



Purpose of Comprehensive Health and Physical Education

“In the great work of education, our physical condition, if not the first step in point of importance, is the first in order of time. On the broad and firm foundation of health alone can the loftiest and most enduring structures of the intellect be reared.” ~Horace Mann

"We know what the Greeks knew: that intelligence and skill can only function at the peak of their capacity when the body is healthy and strong, and that hardy spirits and tough minds usually inhabit sound bodies." ~John F. Kennedy

Preparing students for the 21st century cannot be accomplished without a strong and sustained emphasis on all students’ health and wellness. It no is longer acceptable to think of “gym class” and “hygiene lessons.” Today’s world has exploded with physical, mental, and social influences that affect not only learning in school, but also the lifelong health of the citizens that schools are preparing for graduation. Health and physical education prepare students to function optimally as students, global citizens, and workers who demonstrate personal responsibility for one’s health and fitness through an active, healthy lifestyle that fosters a lifelong commitment to wellness. These standards encourage physical literacy, which is the ability to move with competence and confidence in a wide variety of physical activities in multiple environments that benefit the healthy development of the whole person[1], as well as, health literacy, which is the ability of individuals to obtain, process, and understand basic health information and services needed to make appropriate health decisions.[2]

Health education and physical education are separate disciplines, each with a distinct body of knowledge and skills. However, the two disciplines are naturally interdisciplinary and clearly complement and reinforce each other to support wellness. Schools have a unique role and responsibility to address both health and physical education from preschool through twelfth grade to instill and reinforce knowledge and skills needed to be healthy and achieve academically.

Colorado's comprehensive health and physical education standards lay out a vision for these vitally important disciplines, and describe what all students should know and be able to do at each grade level through eighth grade and in high school. The authors of this document were preschool through twelfth-grade educators, higher education professors, business representatives, and community members. The group developed a set of competencies starting with "the end in mind." What concepts and skills would a "prepared graduate" in the 21st century possess when he or she left high school? The answers to this question framed the work that led to the development of four standards in comprehensive health and physical education for preschool through twelfth grade.


Prepared Graduates in Physical Education

  1. Demonstrate competency in motor skills and movement patterns needed to perform a variety of physical activities.
  2. Apply movement concepts, principles, strategies, and tactics to learning and performing physical activities.
  3. Demonstrate the knowledge and skills to achieve and maintain a health-enhancing level of physical activity and fitness.
  4. Participate in and understand the benefits of regular physical activity.
  5. Exhibit responsible personal and social behavior that respects self and others in physical activity settings.
  6. Apply personal safety knowledge and skills to prevent and treat injury.

Standards in Comprehensive Health and Physical Education

Standards are the topical organization of an academic content area. The four standards of comprehensive health and physical education are:

1. Movement Competence and Understanding

Includes motor skills and movement patterns that teach skill and accuracy in a variety of routines, games, and activities that combine skills with movement; demonstrates the connection between body and brain function; and creates patterns for lifelong physical activity.

2. Physical and Personal Wellness

Includes physical activity, healthy eating, and sexual health and teaches lifelong habits and patterns for a fit, healthy, and optimal childhood and adulthood; examines society, media, family, and peer influence on wellness choices; practices decision-making and communication skills for personal responsibility for wellness; and identifies the consequences of physical inactivity, unhealthy eating, and early sexual activity. Includes health promotion and disease prevention, and teaches responsibility and skills for personal health habits as well as behavior and disease prevention; sets personal goals for optimal health; examines common chronic and infectious diseases and causes; and recognizes the physical, mental, and social dimensions of personal health.

3. Social and Emotional Wellness

Includes mental, emotional, and social health skills to recognize and manage emotions, develop care and concern for others, establish positive relationships, make responsible decisions, handle challenging situations constructively, resolve conflicts respectfully, manage stress, and make ethical and safe choices; examines internal and external influences on mental and social health; and identifies common mental and emotional health problems and their effect on physical health.

4. Prevention and Risk Management

Includes alcohol, tobacco, and other drug prevention; violence prevention; and safety; teaches skills to increase safe physical and social behavior in at home, in school, in the community, and in personal relationships; provides specific knowledge on avoidance of intentional and unintentional injuries; and practices decision-making and communication skills to avoid drug use, bullying, and dating violence.

The four standards are organized across comprehensive health and physical education in the following manner:

Comprehensive Health standards:

  1. Physical and Personal Wellness
  2. Social and Emotional Wellness
  3. Prevention and Risk Management

Physical Education standards:

  1. Movement and Competence Understanding
  2. Physical and Personal Wellness
  3. Social and Emotional Wellness
  4. Prevention and Risk Management

General Considerations for Physical Education:

There has been a shift in the focus of physical education instruction in the last few years. In the past, physical education was very much focused on team sports, athlete success, teacher-directed lessons, and little cognitive rigor. The new face of physical education instruction is an inclusive environment where all students have the opportunity to succeed. Physical education focuses on life-long health and wellness with connections to personal fitness, connections to lifetime activities, enhancing leadership qualities and strategic thinking, and having students take ownership of their learning. Ultimately, the standards focus on the development of physically literate students and lifelong movers.

In revising the physical education standards, the committee referenced national recommendations for minutes of elementary and high school physical education, national physical education standards, national reviews, and public feedback. The committee fully acknowledges that local school districts may need to make modifications based on local courses, infrastructure, and available resources. The standards and evidence outcomes are intended to guide the physical education experience of students in grades preschool through Grade 12 and are not intended to be a checklist, but instead are used to frame objectives for a standard and to provide guidance in teaching the appropriate skills/concepts. Standards should be addressed in a comprehensive high-quality physical education program. Standards and Grade Level Expectations have been revised to meet the current needs of Colorado students. The high school evidence outcomes have been restructured into levels (Level 1 or Level 2) to differentiate rigor for beginning and advanced learning of skills and concepts.


[1] SHAPE America Physical Literacy. SHAPE America. [Online] https://www.shapeamerica.org/events/physicalliteracy.aspx?hkey=61893e49-8a9e-430c-b4f5-8267480cb421.

[2] Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. What is Health Literacy. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. [Online] https://www.cdc.gov/healthliteracy/learn/.

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