• Substantial discrepancies exist in state mandates regarding the time allocated for physical education.
• Nearly half of school administrators (44 percent) reported cutting significant time from physical education and recess to increase time spent in reading and mathematics since passage of the No Child Left Behind Act.
• Standardized national-level data on the provision of and participation, performance, and extent of engagement in vigorous- or moderate-intensity physical activity are insufficient to allow assessment of the current status and trends in physical education in the United States.
• Systematic research is needed on personal, curricular, and policy barriers to successful physical education.
• The long-term impact of physical education has been understudied and should be a research priority to support the development of evidence-based policies.
Physical education is a formal content area of study in schools that is standards based and encompasses assessment based on standards and benchmarks. It is defined in Chapter 1 as “a planned sequential K-12 standards-based program of curricula and instruction designed to develop motor skills, knowledge, and behaviors of healthy active living, physical fitness, sportsmanship, self-efficacy, and emotional intelligence.” As a school subject, physical education is focused on teaching school-aged children the science and methods of physically active, healthful living (NASPE, 2012). It is an avenue for engaging in developmentally appropriate physical activities designed for children to develop their fitness, gross motor skills, and health (Sallis et al., 2003; Robinson and Goodway, 2009; Robinson, 2011). This chapter (1) provides a perspective on physical education in the context of schooling; (2) elaborates on the importance of physical education to child development; (3) describes the consensus on the characteristics of quality physical education programs; (4) reviews current national, state, and local education policies that affect the quality of physical education; and (5) examines barriers to quality physical education and solutions for overcoming them.