Policy Changes in Physical Education Teacher Continuing Professional Development


  • Rulan Shangguan South China University of Technology
  • Xiaofen Hamilton The University of Texas at Austin
  • Jeffrey Colburn The University of Texas at Austin
  • Xiaolu Liu Georgia State University
  • Michael Hodges Bronx Community College




In-service physical education teachers, continuous professional learning, educational policy changes


Professional development (PD) plays an important role in the quality of K–12 physical education teachers (PETs) and PD policies affect the implementation of PD at the state level in the United States. To date, no studies have examined PD policies for PETs. Therefore, this project aimed to examine changes of state PD policies for PETs from 2001 to 2016. Document analysis method was used in the analysis of data included in the Shape of the Nation Report: Physical Education Programs in the US. The five editions of the report were coded with a focus on PD requirements and state financial support for PD. McNemar’s test was performed in the examination of the significant percentage change in K–12 PD policies for PETs during the time period. About 10%–20% of states did not have any PD requirements and less than one third of states required physical education–specific PD since 2001. Although the percentage of states providing support specific for PETs significantly increased in 2016, the overall percentage of state PD support for PETs was less than 30%. There were significant positive changes in making PD specific for PETs and state support for PD from 2001 to 2016. Future state PD policies need to be aligned with how PETs learn, focusing on what, when, and how PD should be implemented for PETs.

Author Biographies

Rulan Shangguan, South China University of Technology

School of Physical Education

Xiaofen Hamilton, The University of Texas at Austin

Department of Curriculum and Instruction

Jeffrey Colburn, The University of Texas at Austin

Department of Curriculum and Instruction

Xiaolu Liu, Georgia State University

Department of Kinesiology and Health

Michael Hodges, Bronx Community College

Department of Health, Physical Education, Recreation, and Dance