Health & Physical Education

  • Purpose

    Learning targets in the K-12 health & fitness curricula are rooted in Washington State’s Health and Fitness standards, whose Essential Academic Learning Requirements articulate developmentally appropriate outcomes for students for each grade K-8 and high school. The instructional environment also accounts for professional recommendations on the characteristics of effective health and physical education curriculum from the American Alliance for Health & Physical Education and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.


    Students in the health classroom engage with interdisciplinary content in life science, social science, and health. The health curriculum exposes students to intrinsically relevant issues, with the goal of promoting healthy choices and equipping students to make behavioral changes to increase their personal health and fitness. During physical education, teachers utilize a variety of differentiated instructional strategies to create an inclusive environment with activities that appeal to the broadest range of students.

    Curriculum & Pedagogy

    The K-12 health & fitness curricula follow the learning progressions outlined in the Washington State Health and Fitness Standards. In addition, the K-12 physical education program underwent a two-year strategic planning process culminating in a novel mission and vision, K-12 curriculum frameworks and implementation of a vertically aligned, culturally appropriate program beginning Fall 2014. For each lesson and unit of study, teachers plan for an appropriate balance of instructional strategies to support student engagement and understanding. Appropriate strategies include direct instruction, modeling, small and large group discussion, and small and large group physical activity. Instructional materials and activities challenge students’ thinking and encourage a gradual shift of responsibility toward the student for their safety, fitness level, motor skill development, and social and emotional learning.


    A range of assessments are used to measure students’ academic and physical grown in health and fitness. In physical education, pre- and post-tests are used to measure students’ fitness growth during a term and also used to measure growth on a particular skill. In health, performance-based summative assessments are used in addition to formative and interim assessments measuring fluency with terminology, knowledge of appropriate health behaviors and risks, and evidence-based reasoning. OSPI-developed assessments are used in both health and physical education to test mastery of key learning targets aligned to developmentally appropriate EALRs.

    Classroom Environment & Culture

    The physical environment and cultural norms in physical education and health classrooms are fundamental to students’ knowledge and skill development in both subject areas. Transition times in physical education are used efficiently so that students spend the maximum amount of time being physically active. In health, work is balanced appropriately between independent work and small and large group discussion. Students are increasingly accountable for fostering and maintaining classroom routines in physical education, and have gradually increased responsibility for fostering and maintaining a safe environment in the health classroom. Students and teachers share an understanding that individual behaviors, access to health care, environmental factors, and social factors all contribute to personal health and safety.

Information by Grade Level

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Last Modified on January 3, 2024