Physical Education

The goal of physical education is to develop physically literate individuals. The Vermont State Board of Education adopted the SHAPE America standards to guide physical education curriculum development in 2015. Students need to develop the knowledge and skills to enjoy a lifetime of healthful physical activity. Physical education should provide students with regular exercise through a variety of physical activities. High school graduates should be able to evaluate their own physical fitness, set goals, and use their knowledge and skills to maintain a healthy and active lifestyle. The Agency may provide professional learning, technical assistance, and resources to schools.

A Vermont Portrait of a Graduate and Health and Physical Education 

The Agency of Education provides schools with sample proficiency-based graduation requirements for health and physical education based on state-adopted standards. These sample graduation proficiencies are examples of a rigorous proficiency-based graduation framework that meets Education Quality Standards requirements. A Vermont Portrait of a Graduate (PoG) was collaboratively developed to be used as a tool for reviewing and refining local proficiency-based graduation requirements, as well as a guide for making instructional decisions. The PoG specifies the cognitive, personal, and interpersonal skills and abilities that students should be able to demonstrate upon graduation considering six attributes: learner agency, global citizenship, academic proficiency, communication, critical thinking and problem solving, and well-being. Each attribute includes key descriptors and performance indicators.  

Health and physical education programs should provide students with valuable learning experiences that support the development of PoG attributes. The following diagram highlights specific health and physical education program skills and abilities that are associated with PoG attributes. For each attribute, a short explanation describes the connection to health and physical education student outcomes.

Health and Physical Education can serve as a pedagogical tool for supporting the performance indicators in the Vermont Portrait of a Graduate. Embedded in the Portrait are key concepts explorable through the Health and Physical Education. 

Learner Agency

Ownership of Learning • Skilled Mover • Focus on Goals  

Through health and physical education, students learn to take ownership of their learning by developing the knowledge and skills needed to manage their health and physical fitness, develop movement competence, and set realistic goals to enhance their health and well-being. Physical education teaches students how to evaluate and maintain health-related physical fitness using self-selected physical activities and value the role physical fitness fulfills in health and personal success. Physical education also teaches students social responsibility through participation in a variety of individual, team, and life-long physical activities as well as the value of participating in physical activity for health, enjoyment, challenge, self-expression, and /or social interaction. Health education teaches students essential health skills for managing and enhancing their personal, physical, mental, emotional, and social health. Together, health and physical education develop critical proficiencies that support academic success and career and college readiness. 

Global Citizenship 

Health Literate • Respect • Advocate • Collaborate 

Global citizenship centers around the ability to engage in respectful collaboration to solve problems. Physical Education teaches students responsible personal and social behavior that respects self and others while participating in individual and team activities. Students learn to accept individual differences and cooperate with classmates to meet initiatives, solve problems and play games. Health Education supports the development of health literacy and interpersonal communication skills (listening, self-expression, refusal, conflict resolution, and negotiation) and the effective use of these skills in real-life situations. In both health and physical education, students learn to solve problems and advocate for their personal needs in a respectful and responsible manner, working interactively with others in instructional and school-based activities. 

Academic Proficiency 

Health Literate • Physically Literate • Reflective 

Health and physical education support academic success in all content areas. Students learn holistic health is the overall state of their physical, emotional, mental and spiritual health; it impacts their entire being and extends to everyone and everything (e.g., environment or geographic location) that interacts with them. The National Health Education Standards guide the development of health literate individuals who have the knowledge, skills, and motivation to make judgements and decisions about healthcare, disease prevention, and health promotion to maintain or improve their quality of life. The SHAPE America physical education standards guide the development of physically literate individuals who have the knowledge, skills, and confidence to enjoy a lifetime of healthful, physical activity to maintain good health and fitness, which supports the ability to work and play. Both health and physical education teach students how to critically reflect on their health status as well as their learning experiences, and to create plans to improve health, which in turn supports academic success.  


Feedback • Self-Expression • Advocacy 

Effective communication is an essential life skill. Health education teaches, provides practice, and assesses students’ interpersonal communication skills. Instructional activities support use of effective communication skills in relationships, when advocating for self and others, and when communicating face-to-face or using email, texting, social media or other technologies. Health and physical education should provide students with opportunities to select and participate in learning activities that are engaging and allow self-expression. Learning activities should also teach students to accept feedback for improving performance as well as provide opportunities for giving appropriate feedback to peers. 

Critical Thinking & Problem Solving 

Access Information • Analyze Influences • Make Decisions • Set Goals 

Health and physical education support the development of critical thinking and problem solving. In physical education, students learn to analyze influences that impact personal fitness and physical activity levels and use personal information to make decisions and set goals to improve or maintain health-related physical fitness.  Health education teaches students seven essential health skills, including analyzing influences, accessing valid and reliable information, decision-making, goal setting, interpersonal communication, practicing health-enhancing behaviors (self-management), and advocacy; four of which help individuals become critical thinkers and problem solvers. Students develop skills for analyzing influences, accessing information, making decisions, and setting goals through health education.   


Mental & Physical Fitness • Social-Emotional Wellness • Self-Management 

Healthy students are better learners. Health and physical education develop individuals’ knowledge and skills to manage personal well-being. The goal of health and physical education is to teach students to manage their physical, mental, emotional, and social health to attain mental, cognitive and physical fitness. Health and physical education social-emotional learning targets focus on developing:  

  • Personal and Social Responsibility (respect, involvement, responsibility and caring);  
  • Character (trustworthiness, respect, responsibility, fairness, caring and citizenship);
  • Intrapersonal intelligence (self-knowledge for accessing, identifying and drawing upon feelings to guide behavior); 
  • Interpersonal intelligence (identifying and responding appropriately to temperaments and desires of others);  
  • Emotional intelligence (recognizing one’s emotional responses, and those of others, and using this knowledge in effective ways); and  
  • Social/Emotional learning (developing self-awareness, self-management, social awareness, responsible decision making, and relationship management).

Teaching Social Emotional Learning through health and physical education helps students navigate many of the challenges they face each day. It promotes academic achievement and positive social behavior, while reducing conduct problems, substance abuse and emotional distress. 


Benes, S and Alperin, H. Health Education in the 21st Century: A Skills-based Approach. JOPERD.  

Benes, S and Alperin, H. The essentials of teaching health education. Human Kinetics. 2016. 

SHAPE America. National standards and grade-level outcomes for K-12 physical education. 2014. 

Social-Emotional Learning through Physical Education. 

Physical Education Assessment

The Vermont ESSA plan identifies Physical Education as a indicator in our state accountability system. Vermont is committed to understanding the health-related fitness status of all students. Supervisory Unions, School Districts, or Independent Schools are required to collect and report the fitness data for all publicly funded students in grades 4, 7, and 9.

The Vermont Physical Education Assessment (VTPEA) is a suite of assessments used to assess the fitness levels of students. The VTPEA suite includes FitnessGram, the Brockport Physical Fitness test, and the Individualized Fitness Assessment. Together, this suite of assessments collects health-related fitness data in four fitness domains. These domains are aerobic capacity, abdominal muscular strength and endurance, upper body muscular strength and endurance, and flexibility.

VTPEA data is used to inform and provide feedback for local programs. Feedback should be used to create instructional opportunities to support the development of lifelong and life enhancing fitness habits. All students should have access, membership, and inclusion in fitness education programs.

2020 VTPEA Testing: Cancelled per COVID-19 and Remote Learning

2020 VTPEA Information
  • Testing Window: April – May
  • Data Use: Vermont ESSA reporting, school and student reporting, inform programs, assure equity
  • Grade Levels: All publicly funded students in grades 4, 7, and 9 in public or independent schools
  • Assessment Domains: Aerobic capacity, abdominal muscular strength and endurance, upper body muscular strength and endurance, flexibility

VTPEA Resources

The following VTPEA resources can be found in the Vermont Comprehensive Assessment Program Portal.

  • The 2020 VTPEA Test Administration Manual
  • The Role of the VTPEA Teacher Leader
  • The link to the 2020 VTPEA Certification Test
  • The link to the Alt-VTPEA Data Reporting Form
  • A sample ‘Parent’ letter for schools to use as a template to communicate the VTPEA to parents and/or guardians.

Linking Health & Learning – A newsletter for Vermont’s Health and Physical Educators

Physical Education Resources

  • SHAPE America Reentry to School Resources: K-12 considerations and resources to help provide safe and supportive health and physical education instruction in the new school year.
  • Kaiser Permanente Playbook: Playbook is a useful for school leaders and health and physical education teachers. The playbook is focused on the health and well-being of teachers, students and staff.
  • OPEN Fall 2020 Planning: Fall 2020 curriculum planning resources that can help PE teachers and students focus on learning outcomes without disruption – even if things change and distance learning resumes due to local outbreaks.

  • SHAPE America: SHAPE America provides physical education resources that help educators plan high-quality, standards-based lessons for remote learning.
  • Online Physical Education Network (OPEN): OPEN offers two types of tools; games and calendars for families to use to make their home an active home and resources teachers and parents can use as partners to provide meaningful movement opportunities that support physical education and social & emotional learning.
  • Dynamic PE: Dynamic PE guides teachers through the process of creating customized lesson plans with hundreds of instructional activities and teaching hints. Each activity has clear objectives, includes a specified equipment list, and adheres to National Standards.
  • ​PE Central: PE Central provides lesson plans, assessment ideas, skill and fitness challenges, and a video library that can be used to support remote physical education.
  • WelNet: WelNet has two programs. The FIVE FOR LIFE PROGRAM® includes curriculum and supporting materials that supports physical education at all levels. The FAB 5® Program is designed for activity leaders and teachers to deliver fitness, nutrition and health concepts in a fun and motivating environment. Materials can be adapted for remote learning. WelNet is free for all schools/districts through July 22, 2020. 
  • BOKS: A free research-based physical activity program that empowers school communities to improve their children physically, mentally, and socially through the power of movement.​
  • Presidential Youth Fitness Program (PYFP): FitnessGram and instructional resources, PYFP at Home, professional development opportunities, and access to grant opportunities.

More Information


Email Susan Yesalonia, Ed.D. or call (802) 828-6553.

Contact Us

Vermont Agency of Education
Secretary Daniel M. French
1 National Life Drive, Davis 5
Montpelier, VT 05620-2501

Web and Document Accessibility Policy​
Public Records Requests

Phone: (802) 828-1130 | Fax: (802) 828-6430
Staff Directory | Division Phone Numbers







Connect with Us

Twitter icon
Facebook icon
Instagram icon
Google+ icon
YouTube icon
RSS icon