Adapted Physical Education National Standards

APENS was developed and is provided by the National Consortium for Physical Education for Individuals with Disabilities (NCPEID). The purpose of APENS is to ensure that physical education for children with disabilities be delivered by a qualified Adapted Physical Educator. In order to meet this purpose a set of 15 national standards representing the content a qualified Adapted Physical Educator must know to do their job was developed. In addition, a national certification exam was developed to measure the specialized content.

The Power of the CAPE

Topic:              The Power of the CAPE: Certified Adapted Physical Educator Certification 


                        This presentation outlines personal and professional reasons for attaining CAPE certification                            as well as outlines the requirements for certification, re-certification, and benefits of NCPEID                              membership included with certification. Originally presented at the 49th National Adapted                                  Physical Education Conference.

Presenters:    Heidi Ambrosius, MA CAPE, Moreno Valley Unified School District, California State University,                            San Bernardino; Brad Weiner, M.Ed, CAPE, NBPT, Montgomery County Public Schools 

Access:          The Power of the CAPE

Access:          The Power of the CAPE short video 

Standard 1: Human Development 

The foundation of proposed goals and activities for individuals with disabilities is grounded in a basic understanding of human development and its applications to those with various needs. For the adapted physical education teacher, this implies familiarity with theories and practices related to human development. The emphasis within this standard focuses on knowledge and skills helpful in providing quality APE programs.

Standard 2: Motor Behavior

Teaching individuals with disabilities requires some knowledge of how individuals develop. In the case of APE teachers, it means having knowledge of typical physical and motor development as well as understanding the influence of developmental delays on these processes. It also means understanding how individuals learn motor skills and apply principles of motor learning during the planning and teaching of physical education to students with disabilities.

Standard 3: Exercise Science

As an adapted physical educator, you must understand that modifications to the scientific principles of exercise and the application of these principles may be needed when teaching individuals with disabilities to ensure that all children with disabilities enjoy similar benefits of exercise. While there is a wealth of information in the foundational sciences, the focus of this standard will be on the principles that address the physiological and biomechanical applications encountered when working with diverse populations.

Standard 4: Measurement and Evaluation

This standard is one of the foundation standards underscoring the background an adapted physical educator should have in order to comply with the mandates of legislation and meet the needs of students. Understanding the measurement of motor performance, to a large extent, is based on a good grasp of motor development and the acquisition of motor skills covered in other standards.

Standard 5: History and Philosophy

This standard traces facts regarding legal and philosophical factors involved in current day practices in adapted physical education. This information is important to understand the changing contribution that physical education can make in their lives. Major components of each law that related to education and physical activity are emphasized. The review of history and philosophy related to special and general education is also covered in this area.

Standard 6: Unique Attributes of Learners

Standard 6 refers to information based on the disability areas identified in the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) found within school age population. Material is categorically organized in order to present the information in a systematic matter. This organization is not intended to advocate a categorical approach to teaching children with disabilities. All children should be treated as individuals and assessed to determine what needs they have.

Standard 7: Curriculum Theory and Development

As you are planning to teach physical education to students with disabilities, you should recognize that certain Curriculum Theory and Development concepts, such as selecting goals based on relevant and appropriate assessments, must be understood by APE teachers. As you have no doubt discovered Curriculum Theory and Development is more then writing unit and lesson plans. Nowhere does this come into play more than when you are planning a program for a student with disability.

Standard 8: Assessment

This standard addresses the process of assessment, one that is commonly taught as part of the basic measurement and evaluation course in a physical education degree curriculum. Assessment goes beyond data gathering to include measurements for the purpose of making decisions about special services and program components for individuals with disabilities.

Standard 9: Instructional Design and Planning

Instructional design and planning must be developed before an APE teacher can provide services to meet legal mandates, educational goals and most importantly the unique needs of individuals with disabilities. Many of the principles addressed earlier in human development, motor behavior, exercise science and curriculum theory and development are applied to this standard in order to successfully design and plan programs of physical education.

Standard 10: Teaching

A major part of any APE position is teaching. In this standard many of the principles addressed earlier in such standard areas as human development, motor behavior, and exercise science, are applied to this standard in order to effectively provide quality physical education to individuals with disabilities.

Standard 11: Consultation and Staff Development

As more students with disabilities are included in the general education program, teachers will provide more consultation and staff development activities for colleagues. This will require sensitivity and excellent communication skills. The dynamics of interdisciplinary cooperation in the consultation process requires knowledge of several consultative models. This standard identifies key competencies an adapted physical educator should know related to consultation and staff development.

Standard 12: Student and Program Evaluation

Program evaluation is a process of which student assessment is only a part. It involves evaluation of the entire range of educational services. Few physical educators are formally trained for program evaluation, as national standards for programs have only recently become available. Therefore, any program evaluation that has been conducted is typically specific to the school or district, or limited to a small range of parameters such as number of students scoring at a certain level of a physical fitness test. Adapted physical education programs or outcomes for students with disabilities are almost never considered in this process.

Standard 13: Continuing Education

The goal of this standard is to focus on APE teachers remaining current in their field. A variety of opportunities for professional development are available. Course work at a local college or university is just one avenue. APE teachers can take advantage of workshops, seminars and presentations at conferences, conventions or in service training. Distance learning opportunities are also becoming abundant.

Standard 14: Ethics

A fundamental premise of the Adapted Physical Education National Standards Project is that those who seek and meet the standards to be certified as adapted physical educators will strive at all times to adhere to the highest of ethical standards in providing programs and services for children and youth with disabilities. This standard has been developed to ensure that its members not only understand the importance of sound ethical practices, but also adhere to and advance such practices.

Standard 15: Communication

In recent years, the role of the professional in APE has evolved from being a direct service provider to include communicating with families and other professionals in order to enhance program instruction for individuals with disabilities. This standard includes information regarding the APE teacher effectively communicating with families and other professionals using a team approach in order to enhance service delivery to individuals with disabilities.

APENS Resources 

APENS Standards Third Edition                                   

Order APENS 3rd Edition Paperback with Web Study Guide

  APENS Standards Third Edition

Order APENS 3rd Edition epub with Web Study Guide    

  APENS Standards Third Edition

Order APENS 3rd Edition Web Study Guide


National Certification Exam 


Click here to become CAPE Certified!



Please send questions or concerns regarding the APENS via email to:

Timothy D. Davis, PhD, CAPE


Assoicate Professor, State University of New York Cortland

Email: [email protected]