Physical education (PE) is a required academic subject that teaches participation in lifelong, health-enhancing physical activity. In PE, students learn to work as a team, develop healthy personal fitness habits, and set fitness goals now and throughout their lives. PE is not recess, or a before- or after-school sports club.
Under NY State law, all students in grades kindergarten–12, including students with disabilities, must have Physical Education (PE) as part of their education.
Summary of Requirements
You can find complete requirements and information about the curriculum for each grade level on the Physical Education Requirements page.
- Students must participate in PE throughout elementary school.
- Grade Kindergarten–six students must participate in PE for at least 120 minutes per week.
- Kindergarten–grade three students must participate every day.
- Grade four–six students must participate at least three times per week.
Middle school students must participate in PE every semester throughout middle school, 90 minutes per week.
- High school students must participate in PE throughout high school.
- All high school students must earn four credits in PE in order to graduate.
- Students must attend and participate for at least 180 minutes per week for seven semesters, or 90 minutes per week for eight semesters
PE and Learning
Research shows that:
- Daily physical activity and PE can improve academic achievement.
- Students who are physically fit do better on tests.
- Physically active students have better attention spans, classroom behavior, and attendance.
- PE can improve the school climate.
PE at Your School
On the InfoHub Physical Education Reporting page, you can find information about your school's PE programs last year, such as:
- How often PE was provided per week
- The number of certified PE teachers
- Physical education space
- Other PE programs
Students with Disabilities: Adapted PE
New York State law requires students with disabilities to have Physical Education (PE) as part of their education. Many can be in a regular PE class, sometimes with support or changes to the activities and equipment so that they can succeed. Others may need to receive PE in a smaller class. In Adapted Physical Education (APE), PE teachers change activities, games, and sports so that all students can take part safely. By law, only a certified PE teacher may teach APE. Students who require APE have Individualized Education Programs (IEPs) that outline their needs. More information about IEPs can be found on the Special Education page. If you think your child needs APE, you can ask your child’s school for an evaluation.
NYC FITNESSGRAM is an annual fitness assessment for students in grades kindergarten-twelve that helps students and their families develop personal goals for lifelong fitness. Students complete the assessments in Physical Education class. NYC FITNESSGRAM is not a graded test, and the results are confidential.
You can view your child’s NYC FITNESSGRAM results and more information about NYC FITNESSGRAM on your NYC Schools Account.
You can also ask your child’s PE teacher to print out your child’s report. PE teachers can help you understand:
- How the test was administered
- What the results mean
- How your student can make a personal plan for staying healthy and fit
Contact the Parent Coordinator at your school for help reaching your child’s PE teacher. You may also want to share your child’s NYC FITNESSGRAM report with your health care provider. The NYC FITNESSGRAM reports can help start conversations about eating habits and levels of physical activity needed for good health.
What is on the NYC FITNESSGRAM assessment?
- Grades K-3: Students are measured for height and weight only.
- Grades 4-12: Students are measured for height and weight, and complete five fitness activities that assess strength, endurance, flexibility, and aerobic capacity.
We encourage elementary schools to use a free program called Move-to-Improve to get students out of their seats and moving more during the school day. Research shows that:
- Physically active students do better in school
- Daily physical activity can help students focus and behave better in class
- Physical activity helps students to be healthy
How Does Move-to-Improve Work?
Elementary school teachers use Move-to-Improve to add physical activity into their classroom lessons. During a math lesson, students might do an aerobic activity to compare two numbers. During an English Language Arts lesson, they might practice yoga movements to identify certain words. Any kindergarten–grade five student can participate in Move-to-Improve activities, no matter what their physical ability.
The Move-to-Improve activities build on what students learn in physical education and in their other subjects. Teachers must receive training to use Move-to-Improve with their students.
You can email MTI@schools.nyc.gov to learn more about making Move-to-Improve a regular part of your child’s school.