Adaptive Physical Education
This article provides an overview of the history of adapted (or adaptive) physical education and the legislation that has supported and promoted the inclusion of students with disabilities into the least restrictive environment. The history and development of the Adapted Physical Education National Standards (APENS) is also discussed with an overview of each of the fifteen national standards that are considered to be the foundation of knowledge and skills for adapted physical educators. Inclusion of students with disabilities into the regular physical education classroom requires appropriate assessment and preparation, which is reviewed along with a brief discussion on the effectiveness of current physical education teacher preparation programs.
Keywords Adapted Physical Education; Adapted Physical Education National Standards (APENS); Assessment; Disabilities; Inclusion; Individualized Education Program (IEP); Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA); Least Restrictive Environment; Normalization
Physical Education: Adapted Physical Education
Adapted physical education, or educational programming that focuses on the motor and physical development of students with disabilities, is rooted in 19th century medicine that was focused on attempting to correct disabilities (Davis, n.d.). This focus on correction was the impetus for a plethora of scientific research in the area. In the 20th century there was a revolution in how society viewed people with disabilities, which was reflective of a change in the way individuals with disabilities viewed themselves (Davis, n.d.). Individuals with disabilities began to be viewed as "individuals who possess a different set of abilities than the majority of the population…they constitute a minority, one with a rich perspective and diverse set of capabilities" (Davis, n.d.). This change in viewpoint from the focus on correcting disabilities to inclusion and value is reflected in the principle of normalization that became popular in the 1960's.
The principle of normalization focuses on the belief that individuals with disabilities should have "full access to patterns and conditions of everyday society" (Decker & Jansma, 1991, p.193). Legislation related to educational programming and services initiated change in public school education. Legislation PL 90-170, Title V (1967) mandated funding in physical education teacher education programs for education related to working with students with disabilities (Hardin, 2005). This legislation allowed for government agencies to offer grants to institutions of higher education for their teacher preparation and research programs (Hardin, 2005). This legislation led the way for the Education for All Handicapped Children Act of 1975 (PL-142), which was the catalyst for the integration of students with disabilities into education in what is referred to as the least restrictive environment (Decker & Jansma, 1991). The education of students with disabilities in the least restrictive environment indicates that the student is being educated to the maximum extent possible with their non-disabled peers (Decker & Jansma, 1991). Later the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (1990)(IDEA) was passed, which mandated that public school physical education programs must provide physical education programming to students that offers opportunities to develop physical and motor skills, fundamental motor skills and motor patterns, as well as skills related to dance, aquatics, and individual and group sports and games (Davis, n.d.). IDEA set forth guidelines for the determination for what students qualify for special services. Students who qualify may have one or more of the following conditions:
• Deaf – Blindness
• Hearing impairment
• Mental retardation
• Multiple disabilities
• Orthopedic impairment
• Other health impairment
• Serious emotional disturbance
• Specific learning disability
• Speech or language impairment
• Traumatic brain injury
• Visual impairment including blindness
Adapted physical education teachers are considered direct service providers, as the physical education program is a part of the disabled student's special education program on the student's individualized education program (IEP) (Davis, n.d.). Adapted physical education teachers are responsible for the assessment of students, the prescription and placement of the child in the program, teaching, counseling and coaching. Adapted physical education teachers are also responsible for conducting evaluations of services, acting as coordinators of resources, as consultants and advocates (Davis, n.d.). The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act mandated that the physical education programs for disabled students be provided by "qualified professionals" (Davis, n.d.); however the legislation did not specify what qualifications or credentials were necessary for these "qualified professionals" to possess. This lack of specificity left the responsibility to define and interpret the term "qualified professionals" to the State Educational Agencies (Davis, n.d.). At the time the legislation was passed the majority of states did not have specific certifications for adapted physical education teachers (Davis, n.d.).
With these changes in federal law, along with new social awareness, the field of adapted physical education grew and continues to grow rapidly. According to Zhang (2011), as of 2011, the U.S. has a substantial shortfall in the number of teachers qualified to teach adapted physical education, with an additional 640 teachers required to fill currently-funded positions, and 20,087 required to meet the needs of all students required adaptive physical education services. This rapid evolution requires teachers to frequently continue their education in order to keep abreast of all current theory and practices in adapted physical education. Adapted physical education is a specialized field as it requires teachers to understand a specific set of theory, practices, and approaches to teaching that may not be required of a regular physical education teacher.
The Action Seminar
Following the passing of the Individuals with Disabilities Act, the National Consortium for Physical Education and recreation for Individuals with Disabilities (NCPERID), the National Association of State Directors of Special Education (NASDSE) and Special Olympics International held an Action Seminar (Davis, n.d.). The Action Seminar provided a venue for state directors of special education and leaders of groups advocating for individuals with disabilities to "identify the barriers that were presenting full provision of appropriate physical education services to individuals with disabilities and to establish an action agenda for addressing and resolving these problems" (Davis, n.d.). The Action Seminar served as an opportunity for the group to identify barriers in developing adapted physical education programs in public schools, but it also revealed that state education leaders did not have an understanding of what adapted physical education was, how such a program could be beneficial to those individuals with disabilities and what skills and knowledge teachers needed to possess in order to deliver effective physical education programming to students with disabilities (Davis, n.d.). The overriding result based on the Action Seminar was the recommendation that the NCPERID be tasked with the development and assessment of professional standards for adapted physical education teachers (Davis, n.d.). The NCPERID Board voted to take on the responsibility of developing the national standards and submitted a funding proposal to the United States Department of Education to develop the national standards and certification exam.
Funding was granted and the NCPERID embarked on a five year, multi-phase process to develop and validate a set of national standards for adapted physical educators. The NCPERID conducted an analysis of the responsibilities of adapted physical educators, developed and validated content standards, created and validated a set of certification examinations, and administered the first national certification examination nation-wide in 1997 (Davis, n.d.). The national standards and certification examination provided guidelines for what competencies are needed (or suggested) for adapted physical educators. However, the legislation indicated that each state department of education had the responsibility to define adapted physical education regarding legislative compliance (Davis, n.d.).
The Adapted Physical Education National Standards (APENS) were established to identify the body of knowledge necessary for adapted physical education teachers based on their job-related responsibilities, and as a means to assess the skills and knowledge of individuals wishing to be certified in adapted physical education (Davis, n.d.). Fifteen broad areas of specialized knowledge were identified as being important to the adapted physical educator. These fifteen broad areas were carefully reviewed. When outlined in detail, the APENS standards each delineate:
• Content knowledge that all physical educators must know in order to effectively teach physical...
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