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Physical Education

The LGSUHSD Governing Board recognizes the positive benefits of physical activity on student health, well-being, and academic achievement. The district shall provide all students the opportunity to be physically active on a regular basis through high-quality physical education instruction and may provide additional opportunities for physical activity throughout the school day. The district's physical education and activity programs shall support the district's coordinated student wellness program and encourage students' lifelong fitness.

LGSUHSD students are required to earn 20 credits of Physical Education to meet the district’s graduation requirements.

Frequently Asked Questions

How often should high school students be participating in physical education courses?
“All pupils, except pupils excused or exempted pursuant to Section 51241, shall be required to attend the courses of physical education for a total period of time of not less than 400 minutes each 10 schooldays.” [California Education Code (EC) Section 51222 (a)]

All students in grades seven to twelve inclusive must participate in physical education courses unless the pupil is excused from participation in accordance with the exceptions in EC sections 51222(a), 51241, or 51242.

In other words, California high schools are required to offer four years of PE to all students, and all students are required to take PE for all four years, unless they meet the requirements for an exemption. The most common exemption allows the school board to waive the third and fourth years of the PE requirement if a student is in grades 10-12, has passed the required 9th grade physical education testing requirements, and voluntarily requests the exemption (usually by signing up for a class other than PE during the scheduling process). The school board then votes to approve the exemption at one of its meetings. (The legal authority for this specific exemption can be found in EC 51241(b)(1). 

What are the state high school graduation physical education course requirements?
All students are required to complete two years (20 credits) of physical education in order to be eligible to graduate from high school, unless the pupil has been exempted pursuant to the provision of the California Education Code (EC). (EC Section 51225.3 [a][1][F])

What are the requirements for 9th-grade PE?
Beginning the 24/25 school year, all 9th grade students at Saratoga High School will be enrolled in a year long PE course, or its equivalent, during the seven-period day.  Implementing this requirement will also make certain all our 9th graders participate in regular physical exercise, which has been proven to be connected to social-emotional well-being. Los Gatos HS 9th graders are currently following this practice.

Why must 9th graders complete these requirements?
The California Department of Education has strict requirements to the implementation of PE. Past practice has allowed 9th graders student-athletes to be excused from PE while in season; however, legal requirements dictate that all students in grades 7-12 must receive a minimum of 400 minutes of physical education instruction every 10 school days (Education Code Section 51222) and that students in grade 9 pass the physical fitness test (Section 60800)

What is the difference between physical education and physical activity?
The terms physical education and physical activity are often used interchangeably, but they differ in important ways. Understanding the differences between the two is critical to understanding why both contribute to the development of healthy and active youths. Every student needs both a quality PE program and physical activity program.

Physical education instructional programs provide students with the skills and knowledge they need to establish and sustain physical activity as a key component of their lifestyle, as children, adolescents, and adults. The PE model content standards adopted by the State Board of Education involve five overarching standards in kindergarten through grade eight and three overarching standards in grades nine through twelve, including eight required content areas that provide a developmentally appropriate, standards-based sequence of instruction. PE instruction provides students with essential skills and knowledge through a broad-based curriculum that is age-appropriate and links learning experiences in a sequential and articulated manner.

Physical activity is any bodily movement that is produced by the contraction of skeletal muscle and that substantially increases energy expenditure, including exercise, sport, dance, and other movement forms. PE programs, recess periods, intramural sports programs, and athletic programs involve physical activity, but each serves a different purpose. Intramural sports and athletic programs provide opportunities for student learning but are not likely to constitute high-quality, standards-based PE instruction.

Athletic programs are essentially designed for youths who have special skills and would like to specialize in one or more sports. They provide students with the opportunities to refine their skills and compete with others of similar interests and abilities.

Physical activity may include recreational, fitness, and sport activities such as jumping rope, playing soccer, lifting weights, or participating in organized sports. Physical activity programs that students participate in outside of school are not the same as PE instructional programs. Such physical activity programs typically provide opportunities for students to develop skills in a single area and are not intended to provide instruction in the essential content areas and standards of PE.

If high school courses provide students with physical activity but do not meet the content requirements, can those courses be used to meet PE requirements?
It is ultimately the obligation of each district to determine how each particular class, as conducted in its district, supports its course of study for grades nine through twelve, inclusive. The course of study must include the eight required content areas and substantially meet the objectives and criteria of EC Section 33352(b)(7) and 5 CCR Section 10060. While it is not required that every class for which PE course credit is given includes all eight areas, each LEA is required to structure its course offerings such that all areas are included over the course of study offered to all students.

What are the three distinct and separate exemptions available under California Education Code (EC) Section 51241?

Each exemption is described below. Please note the exemptions do not waive the 20 PE credits required for high school graduation.

“The governing board of a school district or the office of the county superintendent of schools of a county may grant temporary exemption to a pupil from courses in physical education, if the pupil is one of the following: 

(1) Ill or injured and a modified program to meet the needs of the pupil cannot be provided. 

(2) Enrolled for one-half, or less, of the work normally required of full-time pupils.” (EC Section 51241 [a][1][2])*

“The governing board of a school district or the office of the county superintendent of schools of a county, with the consent of a pupil, may grant a pupil an exemption from courses in physical education for two years any time during grades ten to twelve, inclusive, if the pupil has met satisfactorily any five of the six standards of the physical performance test administered in grade nine pursuant to Section 60800.” (EC Section 51241 [b][1])

Note that the standards are found on the PFT Administrative Documents Web page [FITNESSGRAM® Healthy Fitness Zones (HFZ)].

“The governing board of a school district or the office of the county superintendent of a county may grant permanent exemption from courses in physical education if the pupil complies with any one of the following: 

(1) Is sixteen years of age or older and has been enrolled in the 10th grade for one academic year or longer. 

(2) Is enrolled as a postgraduate pupil. 

(3) Is enrolled in a juvenile home, ranch, camp, or forestry camp school where pupils are scheduled for recreation and exercise pursuant to the requirements of Section 4346 of Title 15 of the California Code of Regulations.” (EC Section 51241 [c][1][2][3])

Can there be waivers for 9th-grade students to take PE?
Beginning in July 2007, students must pass the physical performance test administered in grade 9 to receive a requested exemption. Local school boards may exempt students from any two years of PE in grades 10, 11, and 12.

Doesn’t California Ed Code 51242 exempt interscholastic athletes from PE?
Local boards may exempt students in grades 10, 11, and 12 from PE course participation if the students successfully completed the physical performance test administered in grade 9 and if the student is engaged in a regular school-sponsored interscholastic athletic program carried on wholly or partially after regular school hours.

Will 9th grade students participating in a school-sponsored sports receive credit for participation?
9th grade students participating in a school-sponsored sport will receive 5 elective credits per season of sports participation, but these credits will not count toward the PE graduation requirement.

What about PE requirements for grades 10-12?
The state requires that students earn at least 20 credits of PE to be eligible for a high school diploma. After successful completion of PE Course 1 and the physical performance test in 9th grade, students will have the option of earning the remaining 10 credits of PE through other PE courses (e.g., PE Course 2, Strength and Conditioning, Varsity Sideline Cheer, JV Sideline Cheer, Dance Team, Marching Band, Colorguard, Winterguard), participation in school-sponsored sports, or PE Independent Study (for students who qualify).


California State’s Physical Education Content Standards

California Department of Education: Physical Education Guidelines Middle & High School

LGSUHSD Board Policy 6142.7 Physical Education and Activity

LGSUHSD Administrative Regulation 6142.7 Physical Education and Activity

Article: Fit to Defend: A Primer on the Physical Education Instructional Minutes Litigation

Article: Lawsuit agreement to force schools to provide physical education

California Education Code

Ed Code 51220 Grades 7-12: Physical Education Course of Study

Ed Code 51222 Grades 7-12 Instructional Minutes 

Ed Code 51225.3 High School Graduation Requirements: 

Ed Code 51241 Exemptions for High School Students.

Ed Code 60800 Physical Fitness Testing