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Physical Education Guidelines: Elementary Schools


In conjunction with the Small School Site Policy, each district acquiring or building on a site of 70% or less of the recommended site size must document via an exemption request to the California Department of Education (CDE), School Facilities Planning Division (SFPD) how the district's educational program, including physical education, can be carried out on a smaller site (Title 5 Section 14010(a) and (b)). This document is to serve as a tool to assist districts in demonstrating how the physical education program can be offered and used in the master planning of sites and in developing education specifications.

The following guidelines are advisory only and utilization or compliance is not required by regulation or CDE. CDE's discretionary approval of exemption requests will be determined by specific circumstances on a case-by-case basis. For requests following this guidance, CDE should reasonably be able to determine if an exemption is approvable. Requests using other methods demonstrating compliance with the exemption provisions of the California Code of Regulations, Title 5 Section 14010(u) may also be submitted and be subject to other appropriate agency or expert review and consultation as determined necessary by CDE.

Legal Requirements for Elementary Physical Education

Education Code Section 51223 requires all elementary students to receive a minimum of 200 minutes of physical education instruction every ten school days.

Step 1 - Determine number of physical education classes needed to serve the master plan enrollment of the school.

The number of students ultimately planned for the site needs to be used in the planning to ensure that if and when the site is built out, sufficient teaching stations are available. The provisions of the Kindergarten Through Third Class Size Reduction (K-3 CSR) law do not require physical education to be provided in a 20 to one setting so grades one through three can have class sizes greater than 20. For example, three first grade classes of 20 students each can be instructed in physical education in two classes of 30 students.

Kindergarten students are typically provided physical education in a self-contained area and should not be included in this calculation. Any specialized spaces or equipment for students with a need for adaptive physical education also needs to be considered.

The tables below are examples, districts should use their own class sizes in lieu of the numbers provided:

Grade Level Physical Education Class
First Grade - Class A Physical Education Class 1
First Grade - Class B Physical Education Class 1 and 2
First Grade - Class C Physical Education Class 2
First Grade - Class D Physical Education Class 3
First Grade - Class E Physical Education Class 4
Second Grade - Class G Physical Education Class 5
Second Grade - Class H Physical Education Class 6 and 7
Second Grade - Class I Physical Education Class 7
Second Grade - Class J Physical Education Class 8
Second Grade - Class K Physical Education Class 9
Third Grade - Class L Physical Education Class 10
Third Grade - Class M Physical Education Class 10 and 11
Third Grade - Class N Physical Education Class 12
Third Grade - Class O Physical Education Class 13
Third Grade - Class P Physical Education Class 14
Fourth Grade - Class Q Physical Education Class 15
Fourth Grade - Class Q Physical Education Class 16
Fourth Grade - Class R Physical Education Class 17
Fifth Grade - Class S Physical Education Class 18
Fifth Grade - Class T Physical Education Class 19
Fifth Grade - Class U Physical Education Class 20

A total of 20 physical education classes are required.

Step 2 - Identify physical education teaching stations.

Each teaching station must provide sufficient space for motor skill development, appropriate space/facility to meet learning objectives, provide a buffer from other classes and consider the safety of each student. Each teaching station should also be large enough and properly equipped to allow all students time to participate with minimal time lost in waiting and in transition. For example, a physical education class of 30 students will require three basketball courts. This would allow for ten students to be on one basketball court at a time without loosing valuable instruction time. These three basketball courts will comprise a single teaching station.

Step 3 - Identify the State Board of Education adopted California Physical Education Content Standards that are to be taught in each teaching station.

Standard 1: Demonstrate motor skills and movement patterns needed to perform a variety of physical activities.

Standard 2: Demonstrate knowledge of movement concepts, principles, and strategies as they apply to learning and performance of physical activities.

Standard 3: Assess and maintain a level of physical fitness to improve health and performance.

Standard 4: Demonstrate knowledge of physical fitness concepts, principles, and strategies to improve health and performance.

Standard 5: Demonstrate and utilize knowledge of psychological and sociological concepts, principles, and strategies as applied to learning and performance of physical activity.

Each teaching station requires an assigned teacher and drinking water should be readily available near each teaching station. As an option, portable drinking stations can be used. The CDE recommends that one drinking fixture per ten students in order to allow students to have access to water without excessive encroachment into instructional time.

Attach a site plan that identifies each teaching station (Example A (PDF) (accessible version of Example A) or Example B (PDF) (accessible version of Example B)).

Step 4 - Schedule classes into instructional time periods each week (allow five minutes transition and clean up time).

The sample below uses 25 minute blocks that provide daily instruction of 20 minutes with five minutes for transition and set-up and clean up. In order to provide the required 200 minutes every ten school days, a student will have to have five physical education classes per week. Time blocks can be of any number of minutes based on local requirements as long as the required 200 minutes can be met. That is, a district may offer physical education for 55 minutes twice a week.

The time periods physical education teaching stations are not available - lunch, recess, and other program needs - are blocked out and the remaining periods are used to schedule the physical education classes as identified in Step 2.

The areas identified as flex time are useful in determining the ability of the site to accommodate more students.

Sample Daily Schedule #1
Time

Field #1
Content Standards 1-5

Field #2
Content Standards 1-5
Hardcourt
Content Standards 1-5
Multi-Purpose Room
Content Standards 1-5
8:10 - 9:25 No classes No classes No classes No classes
9:25 - 9:50 Class 1 Class 9 Class 14 Class 3
9:50 - 10:15 Class 2 Class 10 Class 15 Class 13
10:15 - 10:30 Primary recess Primary recess Primary recess Flex time
10:30 - 10:45 Upper grade recess Upper grade recess Upper grade recess Flex time
11:00 - 11:25 Class 4 Class 11 Class 16 Lunch prep
11:30 - 12:00 Lunch Lunch Lunch Lunch
12:00 - 12:30 Lunch Lunch Lunch Lunch
12:30 - 12:55 Class 5 Class 12 Class 17 Lunch clean up
12:55 - 1:20 Class 6 Flex time Class 18 Band practice
1:20 - 1:45 Class 7 Flex time Class 19 Flex time
1:45 - 2:10
(Upper grades only)
Class 20 No classes Flex time Flex time
Sample Daily Schedule #2
Time Field #1
Content Standards 1-5
Field #2
Content Standards 1-5
Field #3
Content Standards 1-5
Hardcourt #1
Content Standards 1-5
Hardcourt #2
Content Standards 1-5
Multi-Purpose Room Content
Standards 1-5
8:10 - 9:25 No classes No classes No classes No classes No classes No classes
9:25 - 9:50 No classes No classes No classes No classes No classes No classes
9:50 - 10:15 No classes No classes No classes No classes No classes No classes
10:15 - 10:30 Primary recess Primary recess Primary recess Primary recess Primary recess Flex time
10:30 - 10:45 Upper grade recess Upper grade recess Upper grade recess Upper grade recess Upper grade recess Flex time
11:00 - 11:25 Class 1 Class 2 Class 3 Class 4 Class 5 Lunch prep
11:30 - 12:00 Lunch Lunch Lunch Lunch Lunch Lunch
12:00 - 12:30 Lunch Lunch Lunch Lunch Lunch Lunch
12:30 - 12:55 Class 6 Class 9 Class 12 Class 15 Class 18 Lunch clean up
12:55 - 1:20 Class 7 Class 10 Class 13 Class 16 Class 19 Band practice
1:20 - 1:45 Class 8 Class 11 Class 14 Class 17 Class 20 Flex time
1:45 - 2:10
(Upper grades only)
Flex time Flex time Flex time Flex time Flex time Flex time

For questions about required physical education minutes and curriculum, contact Michael Lee, Education Programs Consultant, at 916-323-5798 or mlee@cde.ca.gov. Questions about completing the physical education plan can be directed to the School Facilities and Transportation Field Representative assigned to the county.

Questions:   Michael Lee | mlee@cde.ca.gov | 916-323-5798
Fred Yeager | fyeager@cde.ca.gov | 916-322-2470
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