What You Need to Know about the IDEA Requirement for Physical Education

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adapted physical education classIDEA 2004 requires that students with disabilities receive physical education services, specially designed if necessary.

If your child has a disability and an IEP, the school must provide physical education as part of your child’s special education program.

If your child is receiving specially designed or adapted physical education, (at a minimum) the IEP should include:

  • a summary of present level of performance in physical education content
  • the frequency and duration (minutes and days per week or stipulated time period) of physical education services
  • measurable goals and objectives about content
  • the placement where these services are provided

Like all other special education and related services, physical education instruction should be detailed in the IEP. Your child’s physical education teacher should be included as a member of the IEP team.

Physical Education Content and Requirements in IDEA

You’ll find the law and regulations about the PE requirement in IDEA on the recently updated Wrightslaw page, Physical Education for Students with Disabilities.

selaw2.100.dpi50034 C.F.R.300.39(b)(2)

20 U.S.C. 1401(29)

34 CFR 300.108

Or check your Wrightslaw: Special Education Law book, pages 55, 202, and 206.

You’ll find more information and resources on the PE page including…

1. Interpretation of the PE Requirement by the U.S. Department of Education
Commentary to IDEA – clarification of when PE is required for students with disabilities beyond the grade level requirement of non-disabled peers.

2. US Department of Education – Office of Special Education Programs: Policy Letters, Guidance, and Clarification.

3. Adapted Physical Education (APE). Adapted or specially designed physical education (APE) is about meeting the unique needs of individual students with disabilities, so a child can participate in all aspects of physical education.

It is common for teachers to specialize or have advanced preparation in adapted physical education.  National and state level adapted physical education teacher certifications (CAPE) or licenses exist.

Talk with your school district. Ask about teacher qualifications. Encourage your district to hire staff who are qualified to teach adapted or specially designed PE.

Learn more about Physical Education for Students with Disabilities

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05/09/2016 2:41 pm

Any information on how these laws can be helpful in providing adaptive sports opportunities through the school district or the state high school sports associations. Our daughter’s high school has been wonderful about participation on the track & field team. She competes in junior level Paralympic programs too. But we are running into roadblocks for divisional, regional and state para sports recognition. They are gettiing close to half the states providing at least an individual state titles for track & swim. I also know some other parents around the country still having trouble getting school districts to take them seriously about providing para sport opportunities.