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Physical Education (PE)

Kids jumping rope in PE 

Many adults assume that Alaska students attend PE classes as often as they did when they were growing up. Unfortunately, that is not the case. Only 16 percent of Alaska high school students attended PE daily in 2017, compared to 30 percent nationally. (YRBS 2017)

The State of Alaska graduation requirement of a single credit of either health or PE (or ½ credit of each) during the four years of high school is not adequate to support nationally recommended levels for quality PE.

Quality Physical Education

Quality physical education is an important component of the educational process. Physical education is not the same as physical activity. Physical activity is a great way to practice what is learned in PE; both are critically important for our children’s health.

Quality physical education:

  • teaches fundamental and specialized movement skills
  • improves motor skills,
  • provides a foundation for developing lifelong physical fitness habits,
  • teaches responsible and appropriate personal and social behaviors in a group setting,
  • increases self-esteem, and
  • improves academic performance.

Essential components of a quality physical education program:

  • All students required to take physical education
  • Total of 150 minutes/week for elementary students
  • Total of 225 minutes/week for secondary students
  • Meaningful sequential content following national or state standards
  • Not assigned as or withheld as punishment
  • Waivers are not allowed from physical education class time or credit requirements
  • Ongoing student and program assessment

In spring 2014 a statewide survey was conducted by the School Health program of all 54 districts policies and practices for physical education and recess. The following fact sheet includes a summary of the results:

Alaska Physical Education Success Stories:


Physical education provides students with a planned, sequential, K-12 standards-based program of curricula and instruction designed to develop motor skills, knowledge and behaviors for active living, physical fitness, sportsmanship, self-efficacy and emotional intelligence.

~SHAPE America 2014

Webpage updated July 2023