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Adapted Physical Education

Contact :: Laurie Ray, Liaison 919.636.1827


Physical Education (PE) and the Law


North Carolina state law requires physical education for all students. Under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), Adapted Physical Education is required for those students with disabilities who require specially designed instruction in order to receive Physical Education. Physical Education includes:

  • Physical and motor fitness
  • Fundamental motor skills and patterns
  • Skills in individual and group games and sports, and activities (including intramural and life-time sports)

Physical education is a curricular area available to all students. If the student cannot participate in the general physical education program, specially designed individualized instruction in PE (Adapted PE) shall be provided.


What is Adapted Physical Education (APE)?

Adapted Physical Education (also called specially designed instruction) is instruction in physical education that is designed on an individual basis to meet the needs of a child with a disability.

  • Adapted PE is Special Education, NOT a related service.
  • Adapted PE is a program, not a placement.


How is the Need for APE Determined?

  • The IEP team determines a student’s need for APE.
  • The IEP team should include an APE specialist, if available, and the general education PE teacher. When the PE curriculum, student needs and/or APE eligibility is being discussed by the IEP team, educators knowledgeable in the PE curriculum need to be present.
  • To determine eligibility, an APE evaluation must take place in accordance with NC Policies Governing Services for Children with Disabilities {NC 1500-2-11A}.
  • Goal (s) must be developed if eligibility for Adapted PE is determined.


Where is Adapted PE Provided?


APE, like all special education, is offered in the least restrictive environment. Students with disabilities must be included to the maximum extent possible in the general physical education program. For students with disabilities who are receiving APE, and students who are participating in the general PE program with accommodations/modifications, a continuum of placement options may include one or more of the following:

  • General physical education setting
  • General PE setting with accommodations/modifications
  • General PE setting with assistance from staff and/or APE specialist
  • A separate PE class setting with peers and additional staff as needed
  • Separate public school

The inclusion of students with disabilities into the general PE curriculum should not compromise the learning of other students in the class setting. However, supplementary aids and supports must be tried before placing a student in a more restrictive setting.

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