As you may or may not know, the State of Michigan's Department of Education has revised and endorsed a new set of physical education standards for K-12 programs in Michigan. The new standards, endorsed by the State Board of Education in May of 2017 can be found at http://www.michigan.gov/mde/0,4615,7-140-74638_74639_29234---,00.html .
The new state standards, which provides general statements of learning expectations for Kindergarten through eighth grade, closely aligns with the national standards that were adopted by Shape America, the national association, in 2014. Identical to the national organization's document, Michigan's document identifies performance standards at two levels. The first level is expectations for basic high school classes, whereas the second level is deemed applicable to enrichment programs.
The national organization's document can be obtained at the following website: https://www.google.com/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=web&cd=2&cad=rja&uact=8&ved=0ahUKEwjfkqPE8sXWAhUKslQKHdnrCDUQFggrMAE&url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.shapeamerica.org%2Fstandards%2Fpe%2Fupload%2FGrade-Level-Outcomes-for-K-12-Physical-Education.pdf&usg=AFQjCNG_gmvitvI2g4VFcSGeI99QVTb2gg. In fact, the wording for most benchmarks in the document are worded identically as they are in the national standards.
In terms of content, Michigan's document differs from the National standards in the area of aquatics. Michigan's document articulates swimming objectives for grades kindergarten through eight. The state document does acknowledge that not all schools will have the ability or resources to address the water safety standards. They do however strongly recommend that water safety and swimming skills be included in school curricula.
The state document, like the national document, refines prior standards to a set of five. The wording in both documents – although less explicit in the state document, places the emphasis on facilitating physical literacy in place of physical education. The language in the standards also de-emphasizes a reliance on the phrase 'physical activity' within the standards, placing the emphasis on equipping students with what they need to be physically active regardless of their circumstances rather than just being active.
The final noteworthy observation is the list of items that the state posits as not being included in the state standards. According to the document, the new standards do not: 1) address how to teach the content; 2) describe all the content that can and should be taught in programs; 3) define enrichment experiences that advanced students can do in High School and what according to the authors should be available to them; 4) define intervention methods or materials to remediate students who struggle; and 5) provide guidance for assisting students with special needs.
The good news for practitioners is that there are some real benefits to the new standards. First, the document is much easier to navigate than the prior state document. Any teacher in any grade can with little difficulty sort through the document and sift out the learning objectives and performance expectations for students in any single grade. Second, while the document does identify content in specific terms, they are written in terms general enough to allow the program or school or teacher to tailor instruction to specific needs of students.
So what is next? Programs should review and revise their curricula so they align with the new standards. Doing so will take a big step towards standardizing learning across all schools.