Physical Education Frequently Asked Questions
G1. Can school districts eliminate or reduce the day/time requirement for physical education?
No. Education Law 803 requires instruction in physical education and instructs the Board of Regents to adopt rules on how this must be achieved. Commissioner's Regulation 135 are those rules. School districts are required by Education Law and Commissioner's regulations to implement a physical education program that meets or exceeds the specified instructional requirements.
G2. What are the New York State requirements for physical education?
All students in K-12 must attend and participate in a physical education program.
All pupils in grades K-3 shall attend and participate in physical education on a daily basis (120 minutes per calendar week exclusive of any time that may be required for dressing and showering for K-6 buildings).
All pupils in grades 4-6 shall attend and participate in physical education not less than three times per week (120 minutes per calendar week exclusive of any time that may be required for dressing and showering for K-6 buildings).
All pupils in grades 7-12 shall attend and participate in physical education for not less than three times per week in one semester, and not less than two times per week in the other semester.
G3. Are there any waivers or exemptions for physical education?
No. All pupils shall attend and participate. Individual medical certificates of limitations must indicate the area of the program in which the pupil may participate. School district plans must indicate steps to be taken to insure that each pupil meets the requirement for participation in their physical education program. For information pertaining to out-of-state transfer students, reference the Physical Education Regulatory Amendments memo as well as question HS3 in the High School Physical Education section of this FAQ.
E1. What are the requirements for elementary physical education?
Grades K-3 are required to have daily physical education for a minimum total of 120 minutes per week. Grades 4-6 are required to have physical education three days per week for a minimum total of 120 minutes per week. See Commissioner's Regulation 135. Reference question M1 in the Middle Level Physical Education section of this FAQ for requirements for 5th or 6th graders in a middle school setting.
E2. Does Recess count toward the physical education requirement?
No. Recess may not count toward the physical education requirement.
E3. Can a certified physical education teacher supervise a recess aide to provide instruction leading to regulatory requirements of physical education at the elementary level?
No. Recess may not be used to meet the physical education days/time requirement (Commissioner’s Decision #12,934). Physical education by definition in Section 135.4(1)(k) Instructional physical education means the required physical education program which has as its foundation planned sequential learning experiences for all students. The regulation is very specific on who may teach physical education: physical education must be taught by a certified physical education teacher or an elementary classroom teacher under the direction and supervision of a certified physical education teacher.
See the following link for the Commissioner’s Regulation on physical education:Commissioner's Regulation 135
E4. Are there any waivers for the elementary physical education requirement?
No. At this time the State Education Department is not granting waivers.
E5. Who should teach physical education at the elementary level?
A certified physical education teacher is the most qualified to teach physical education.
E6. Is there any flexibility in meeting the elementary physical education requirement?
Yes. Under Commissioner's Regulation Part 135.4(c)(4)(i), elementary classroom teachers may teach physical education under the direction and supervision of a certified physical educator. There are areas of the physical education curriculum that can be completed in the student's classroom and taught by the classroom teacher. Since physical education includes not only physical, social, and emotional skill development but also cognitive learning, certain items can easily be done in the classroom by the elementary teacher (i.e. understanding the effect of physical activity on the body, the need for proper nutrition to live an active life, staying safe, prevent injuries, etc.). Integrating physical education into other curriculum areas is encouraged and even covered in Part 135.4(c)(1)(i)(i). However, this instruction must be designed with care and under the direction and supervision of the certified physical education teacher to ensure that the learning standards are met.
E7. How can we document the days and time spent in physical education if we use an integrated curriculum approach?
Update the District Physical Education Plan (required by Part 135.4) and submit a copy per regulation to the State Education Department's Office of Curriculum, Instruction and Instructional Technology. Designing the elementary physical education curriculum should be a cooperative venture of the District Director of Physical Education, the elementary physical education teacher(s) and the elementary classroom teachers. This would ensure that the physical education curriculum covered in this fashion counts toward the day and time requirement, and will be documented in both the physical education teacher's lesson plans and elementary classroom teacher's lesson plans. See Commissioner's Regulation 135.
M1. What are the physical education requirements for 5th or 6th graders in a middle school setting?
Students in grades 5 or 6 who are housed with students in grades 7 and 8 may follow either:
- the elementary requirements for grades 4-6 (not less than 3 times per each week, minimum of 120 minutes per calendar week)
- or the secondary requirements for grades 7-12 (not less than three times per week one semester and two times per week in the other semester, or a comparable time each semester based on school organization).
Additional information can be referenced in the Commissioner's Regulation on Physical Education.
HS1. Must students earn high school credit in physical education?
Yes. Students must earn 1/4 credit in physical education for every semester they are enrolled in a New York State high school until the end of their 8th semester of high school.
HS2. May a student accelerate in physical education?
No. Students cannot accelerate in physical education; a student may however take extra physical education courses as electives.
HS3. How many physical education credits do out-of-state transfer students need to earn?
Students who transfer in to a New York State school from another state are required to earn ¼ unit of credit for each semester they are enrolled in the New York State high school through the end of their senior year or 8th semester. For example, a student who transfers to a New York State high school in grade 11 will have to enroll in PE each semester, and will be required to earn 1 credit (¼ unit x 4 semesters) in physical education at the NYS high school in order to graduate. Additional information can be referenced in the Physical Education Regulatory Amendments memo.
HS4. If a student graduates from high school in fewer than 8 semesters (early), must the student meet the required number of physical education credits?
The student needs to meet the required number of credits based upon the number of semesters they are in a NYS high school per the chart below. If they entered a NY high school in grade 9 and graduate in 7 semesters, their PE requirement is 1 ¾ credit; 6 semesters would be 1 ½ credits and so on.
|# Semesters Expected in a NYS School
|Minimum number of PE credits required for graduation
HS5. Is there ever a need for a student to double-up in physical education?
The only time a student might double-up in physical education is when the local school determines retaking a physical education course is necessary to obtain make-up credit for failed or incomplete coursework in physical education.