New Jersey Student Learning Standards
Comprehensive Health and Physical Education
Frequently Asked Questions
New Jersey Student Learning Standards for Comprehensive Health and Physical Education Frequently Asked Questions: Health and Family Life Education
order to ensure that all students are able to achieve the health
and physical education core standards, the following guidance
all students required to participate in the health and physical
Yes. N.J.S.A. 18A:35-7 requires every pupil, except kindergarten
pupils, attending public schools to take such courses. However,
the core standards establish requirements for students in grades
many minutes per week must students have health and physical education?
N.J.S.A. 18A:35-7&8 requires that students in grades 1-12 receive
150 minutes (or two and one-half hours) of health, safety, and physical
education per week, prorated for school holidays. Local school districts
decide how many minutes per week are necessary in each area in order
to achieve the core standards.
recess count towards those minutes?
Schools may be able to use recess to fulfill the 150 minute requirement
if the following elements are met:
students be denied access to recess?
activities/lessons are taken from the locally developed health
and physical education curriculum and are linked to classroom
instruction and assessment;
activities/lessons are designed to meet the health and physical
education core standards;
activities/lessons are designed, supervised, and assessed by
an appropriately certified teacher;
student-teacher ratio is aligned with accepted district policies
for instructional programs;
is used to fulfill the 150 minutes as required by law, then students
cannot be denied access to recess since it is instructional. If
recess is used to fulfill the requirement, students should not be
permitted to substitute other instructional programs (e.g. music
lessons, gifted programs, ESL instruction) for recess.
a student with a medical condition be exempted from health and
The law requires that the medical inspector determine the childs
fitness for participation in such courses. However, the law was
originally written in 1917 and amended in 1967, before the enactment
of the Americans with Disabilities Act, Section 504 and the Individuals
with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). All students must have meaningful
access to curriculum and instruction based on the core standards.
a student has a medical condition that limits his/her ability
to participate in the regular physical education program, what
must the school do?
6A:14-4.1(f) states that physical education services, specially
designed if necessary, shall be made available to every student
with a disability ages 5 through 21, including those students in
separate facilities. Individual student needs should be addressed
through the students Individualized Education Plan or 504
Plan. The childs program should be modified to reflect activities
that the child can participate in, even if some modifications are
necessary. Modifications may be similar to those described in the
next questions. Additionally, Chapter 9 of the Comprehensive Health
and Physical Education Curriculum Framework (1999) provides guidance
in this regard.
a student has a temporary disability (e.g. fractured leg, recent
surgery) and cannot participate in the regular physical education
program, what should the school do?
the school should communicate with the childs family and attending
physician to determine how long the child will need accommodations.
Once this is determined, the school has a number of options based
on the grade and age of the child.
In school, the student can:
in the regular physical education class with restrictions based
on the severity and nature of his/her disability;
in an adaptive physical education class that provides individualized
instruction based on the type and severity of his/her disability;
health instruction for physical education for that marking period,
semester, or school year with the student returning to physical
education when medically appropriate; or
a health-related class that meets a number of the core standards
and local curricular objectives such as foods and nutrition
or parenting and child care.
the student can:
in a physician-ordered program with a licensed physical therapist
(e.g. therapeutic exercise programs that improve range of motion
or strength); or
an approved independent study project in an area related to
the physical education course objectives.
high school students, alternative programs of study fulfill the
health and physical education graduation requirements as part of
"Option II". The principal must ensure that the student
has met local district curricular objectives and should carefully
document the students achievement. For
elementary students, schools must design programs that address appropriate
activity levels and behaviors not only during physical education
but during recess, after-school programs, and class trips.
If a student plays on a school athletic team, can he/she be excused from physical education? ursuant to N.J.A.C.6A:8-5.1 adopted in June 2009, district boards of education shall establish a process to approve individualized student learning opportunities that meet or exceed the standards."
a student participates in athletic activities outside school,
can the child be excused from physical education?
local board of education would have to approve the childs
participation as an alternative means of achieving the core standards.
The procedure would be much the same as outlined above.
a student be excused from family life and sexuality education?
Pursuant to N.J.S.A. 18A:35-4.7, any child whose parent or guardian
presents to the school a signed statement that any part of instruction
in health, family life education or sex education is in conflict
with his conscience or sincerely held moral or religious beliefs
shall be excused from that portion of the course.
a child is excused from instruction under these provisions, how
can the child meet the core standards?
school should provide alternative ways for the child to meet the
health and physical education core standards. The child could be
assigned to participate in physical education during that time that
his/her class is receiving health instruction. The child could be
given an alternative health project to complete as a substitute
for the family life unit. Parents and teachers should work together
to ensure that the student achieves curricular objectives that are
not of concern to the parent.
school students need to complete 3¾ credits of health, physical
education, and safety in order to graduate. Over 4 years, that
equals 15 credits. Can a student take health and PE 5 days a week
for three years to fulfill the requirement?
State law and regulations stipulate that students must take 3¾ credits
for each year of attendance in order to graduate.
students receive a grade in health and physical education?
N.J.S.A. 18A:35-7 requires that the conduct and attainment of the
pupils shall be marked as in other courses or subjects, and the
standing of the pupil shall form a part of the requirements for
promotion or graduation.
require students to take three marking periods of physical education
and one marking period of health each year. We average the four
grades for a final grade for the year. Should we keep the grades
is a local decision. Some schools keep the grades separate because
they require a mid-term or final exam in each of the two areas.
Others prefer to average the four grades and record one final grade
on the student record.
the health and physical education grade be used to calculate class
rank and/or grade point average?
is a local decision.
Who is authorized to teach health and physical education?
A certified elementary school teacher in grades kindergarten through five can teach any of the NJSLS subjects (including health
and physical education). In grades 6-12, teachers must be considered
a content specialist and be certified to teach health and physical
education. Certified school nurses are permitted to provide classroom
health instruction in grades K-12. Teachers who are K-12 certified
in health education can only teach health. Similarly, teachers
who hold a K-12 physical education license may only teach PE.
Dually certified health and physical education teachers are permitted
to teach both subjects K-12. For more information go to Professional
Licensure and Standards:
teachers punish students by withholding physical education?
school board policy should not permit a teacher to discipline a
student by restricting his/her access to other instructional programs
like art, music, or physical education. Such decisions should be
subject to administrative review.
students be pulled from physical education for music lessons,
basic skills, science lab, or gifted programs?
students are required to participate in 150 minutes of health, safety,
and physical education per week. If the schools program exceeds
the required number of minutes, the school administration should
discuss with both teachers how to accommodate the childs participation
in both programs without penalty to the child. At the high school
level, many schools provide four days per week of instruction in
health and physical education to accommodate a fifth day for lab
parent volunteers or classroom aides supervise recess?
personnel supervise recess, it cannot be considered instructional
for the purpose of fulfilling the 150 minute requirement.
will students be assessed on the health and physical education
have been set for statewide testing in this area.
is the AIDS Prevention Act and how does it impact family life
18A:35-4.19-22, the AIDS Prevention Act of 1999, is commonly referred
to as the stress abstinence law. The law requires that school-based
programs stress that abstinence from sexual activity is the only
completely reliable means of eliminating the sexual transmission
of HIV/AIDS and other sexually transmitted diseases and of avoiding
pregnancy. The law requires local boards of education to include
in its curriculum the reasons, skills, and strategies for remaining
or becoming abstinent. It also requires that any instruction on
methods of contraception, including the use of condoms, include
information on their failure rates in actual use with adolescents.
The law also requires that programs and materials stress the importance
of avoiding intravenous drug use as a method of HIV prevention.
Does this mean we must implement an abstinence-only program?
No. The law clearly states that schools can discuss contraception and risk reduction as long as abstinence is stressed as the only completely reliable method of prevention. The New Jersey Student Learning Standards for Comprehensive Health and Physical Education require students to understand both abstinence and contraception.
Do we have to teach about breast self-examination?
Yes. Enacted in 1999, N.J.S.A. 18A:35-5.4 requires each board of education which operates programs for students in grades 7-12 to offer instruction in breast self-examination as part of the district's implementation of the New Jersey Student Learning Standards for in Comprehensive Health and Physical Education.
Our school has a separate family life curriculum, a separate HIV/AIDS curriculum, a separate drug and alcohol curriculum, and a separate PE curriculum? Shouldn't we have one comprehensive health and physical education curriculum?
While this is a local decision, the New Jersey Student Learning Standards for Comprehensive Health and Physical Education are combined and include all of these areas.
The standards use "wellness" as the thread that links
the two content areas into one cohesive document.