Physical Education

The goal of physical education is to develop physically literate individuals who have the knowledge, skills and confidence to enjoy a lifetime of physical activity. To fulfill a lifetime of physical activity, a physically literate individual:

  • Has learned the skills necessary to participate in a variety of physical activities.
  • Knows the implications and the benefits of involvement in various types of activities.
  • Participates in regular physical activity.
  • Is physically fit.
  • Values physical activity and its contribution to a healthful lifestyle.

Standards, Assessments, and Graduation Requirements

The 2010 Minnesota K-12 Academic Standards in Physical Education were adopted in 2010 and were to be implemented by the 2012-13 school year. These standards were revised and are to be replaced by the 2018 Minnesota K-12 Academic Standards in Physical Education Standards and should be fully implemented by the 2021-22 school year. Full implementation is defined as:
  • By the 2021-22 school year, instruction in physical education in grades K-8 must include all the 2018 Minnesota K-12 Academic Standards in Physical Education.
  • Instruction at the high school level must include the 2018 Minnesota Academic Standards in Physical Education beginning with the 2021-22 freshman (ninth grade) class.
To assist districts, the Minnesota Department of education has released as Recommended Physical Education Implementation Timeline
The 2018 standards include grade-level benchmarks for each of the five standards that address:
  • Competency in motor skills and movement patters.
  • Application of knowledge of concepts, principles, strategies and tactics to movement and performance.
  • Demonstration of knowledge and skills to achieve and maintain physical fitness and physical activity
  • Demonstration of responsible personal and social behavior that respects self and others.
  • Recognition of the value of physical activity for health, enjoyment, challenge, self-expression, and social interaction.
All students in grades K-8 must receive instruction in physical education every year. High school students must receive instruction in physical education at least once. The amount of credit and graduation requirement is determines at the local level. 

All schools are required to develop assessments for their locally developed benchmarks for the 2010 K-12 Academic Standards in Physical Education as well as for the required grade-level benchmarks accompanying the 2018 K-12 Academic Standards in Physical Education(that are to be implemented by the 2021-22 school year). As requested by the Minnesota State legislature (Minnesota Statutes, section 120B.021), the Minnesota Department of Education has released some sample assessments for measuring student performance aligned with the 2018 Minnesota K-12 Physical Education Standards. These user-friendly sample assessments allow teachers to measure performance and knowledge across all five state standards. Teachers can use them as they are, modify them to fit a curriculum, or use them to create original assessments that is more appropriate for the school’s teaching environment and needs. To download the documents, select the desired grade span:
2018 K-12 Academic Standards in Physical Education-Spreadsheet is available that allows for sorting of the standards and adding columns for instructional resources and assessments.

Professional Learning and Coming Events

The Minnesota Department of Education Physical Education Leadership Team, representing members of the Minnesota Society of Health and Physical Educators (MNSHAPE) Executive Board, the Minnesota Developmental Adapted Physical Education (MNDAPE) Leadership Team, the Co-Chairs of the Minnesota Department of Physical Education Standards Development Committee, and higher education, assists the Department in designing professional learning opportunities. The Leadership Team has created a three year training design to assist schools in implementing the 2018 Minnesota Academic Standards in Physical Education. All materials utilized in the professional learning experiences for the 2018-19 and 2019-20 are housed on the MNSHAPE website. There has been a pause in the professional learning planning due to the Covid-19 pandemic. The Leadership Team is closely monitoring the impact on school reopening and will release the 2020-21 training schedule soon. Check back to this website for more information in September. 

Recognition and Awards Programs 

The Minnesota Department of Education supports the Minnesota Society of Health and Physical Educators (MNSHAPE) award programs for Minnesota teachers and professional who support the content area. Some of the awards include Minnesota Physical Education Teachers of the Year at the Elementary, Middle School, and High School levels. These teachers then go on to compete at the district and national levels. The MNSHAPE Recognition and Awards information full list of awards, criteria, and submission timelines can be on their website.  

Content Specialist Contact Information

For more information, contact Mary Thissen-Milder, PhD, Physical Education Specialist at 651-582-8505,

Resources for Teaching and Instruction

Physical Education Distance Learning: Guidance from the Minnesota Department of Education is available on the Student Instruction COVID-19 Resources page. These documents include:
The Essential Components of Physical Education. SHAPE America guidance document for physical education policy and environment, curriculum, student instruction and assessment (2015).
Appropriate Instructional Practice Guidelines, K-12: A Side-By-Side Comparison. SHAPE America identifies developmentally appropriate and inappropriate practices in elementary, middle and high school physical education classes specific to the learning environment, instructional strategies, curriculum, assessment, and professionalism (2009).
Guidelines for Online Physical Education. SHAPE America. SHAPE America identifies guidelines for online physical education implementing K-12 standards-based physical education program (2018).

Standards and Related Information