How to Know if You Have a Quality Physical Education Curriculum

Would you like to know if your physical education curriculum meets current expectations in the field? Are you confused about what makes a quality physical education curriculum? Are you frustrated when an administrator asks, “So how do you know your PE curriculum meets the standards?”

If you want to analyze your physical education curriculum and share those results with others, the free Physical Education Curriculum Analysis Tool (PECAT) 2.0 will help you to do so.

Why Curriculum Is Important to Your Teaching

Maybe you are asking yourself, “Why is this guy so worried about my curriculum?” The physical education curriculum serves as the instructional map for your teaching. Coupled with your teaching it is your program. So, it’s pretty important.

If I asked you to get to Pitsburg, OH, from your current location without using a map, your task would be daunting. Trust me, I am from there and it’s not easy to find. You could aimlessly drive toward Ohio but once there, then what?

This is what teaching without a curriculum looks like. A quality physical education curriculum is standards-based, developed systematically, driven by a guiding philosophy, and evolving through time. This means that activities in a physical education program cannot be just selected out of thin air solely because they are fun.

It also means that a process should be used to document the curriculum. Typically, this process involves the development of a guiding philosophy for the physical education program. This philosophy is particularly important because it drives curricular and instructional decisions.

Lastly, quality curricula evolve as schools change, new knowledge becomes available, and thinking related to physical education changes.

So, What Exactly Is the PECAT?

The PECAT was first created in 2006 by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Its purpose has always been to help teachers, districts, and stakeholders determine if their physical education curriculum aligned with SHAPE America’s National Standards for K-12 Physical Education.

To this end, SHAPE America (formerly AAHPERD) has partnered with the CDC in the development and delivery of this tool. In the beginning, the PECAT was a 3-inch binder with lots and lots of sheets to be completed. Workshops were delivered throughout the country and thousands of teachers and administrators were trained to use this tool.

Fast forward to 2021 and after many edits and modifications through the years, the PECAT 2.0 is now online. This is HUGE! It allows for greater efficiency and ease of use. If you ever used the PECAT the “old school” way, you will instantly notice this newfound ease of use. Go dig in! Well wait, read the rest of this and then dig in!

PECAT 2.0 reflects the expertise of countless professionals at the CDC, SHAPE America, and in the field of physical education. Highlighted updates to this version include:

  • A refined Standards Analysis section. This section allows users to evaluate their curriculum based on outcomes, content and assessments … all in the same space. This has resulted in an efficient, comprehensive section you are going to love.
  • New content related to curriculum development. In the 15+ years since the PECAT was first introduced, users have consistently asked, “If I don’t have a curriculum, can I use the PECAT to develop one?” While the answer has always been yes, the process was not always clear using the PECAT tool. Essentially, the users have “the test” that would be used to analyze their curriculum, but the curriculum development process is systematic. In Appendix A: Curriculum Development Process, users can see an outline of all the steps needed to create their own physical education curriculum.

So, what are you waiting for? Go check it out and get started evaluating or developing your own physical education curriculum. Analyzing a curriculum takes time. The new PECAT 2.0 will assist in streamlining this process and I have a feeling you will learn a great deal about your PE program.

Thanks for what you do for your students.

Additional Resources

Aaron Beighle

Aaron Beighle holds a Ph.D. from Arizona State University and is currently a faculty member at the University of Kentucky. He regularly collaborates with a variety of organizations interested in youth physical activity promotion and has been a leading advocate for comprehensive school physical activity programs (CSPAPs). Aaron has written more than 85 research-based and practical articles as well as six books, most notably Dynamic Physical Education for Elementary School Children.