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New Jersey Core Curriculum Content Standards

May 1996

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New Jersey Core Curriculum Content Standards
for Comprehensive Health and Physical Education


Public schools have a responsibility to give children in the community the knowledge and skills necessary for successful living. Comprehensive health and physical education programs encourage students to take responsibility for their own lives by acting conscientiously in the present and by establishing positive health practices that will support and enhance lifelong wellness. The goal of the comprehensive health and physical education program is to develop citizens who are both health-literate and physically educated. Health literacy is defined as the capacity of individuals to obtain, interpret, and understand basic health information and services, and the competence to use such information and services in ways which enhance health (Joint Committee on National Health Education Standards, 1995). Citizens who are physically educated exhibit a physically active lifestyle, can perform a variety of physical activities, and understand the benefits of involvement in physical activity (National Association for Sport and Physical Education, 1995).

Citizens who are health-literate and physically educated have the knowledge and skills to better achieve and maintain physical, social, and emotional health. These individuals are better able to contribute to the nation's economic competitiveness by working more effectively, by missing fewer days from work due to illness or injury, by using fewer medical services due to the prevention or delayed onset of health problems, and by reducing the use and cost of health insurance benefits (Joint Committee, 1995). The knowledge and skills gained from comprehensive health and physical education contribute to a better quality of life for the individual, the family, and the community.

To prepare students for the next century, comprehensive health and physical education programs must focus on the needs of students. Serious health problems and violence confront our young people on a daily basis, while conflicting messages from the adult world facilitate and even encourage high-risk behavior. The major health problems facing our nation today are, in large part, attributable to behaviors adopted during childhood and adolescence (U. S. Department of Health and Human Services, 1991). From 1989 to 1992, over twenty-five major studies and reports addressed the health and educational needs of our youth, with the following major findings:

Education and health are interrelated. Health problems that afflict students erode both their health status and their educational achievement, limiting their potential as productive members of the workforce.

The greatest threats to health are "social morbidities." Many health problems which are largely preventable are influenced by specific behaviors and practices established during youth and continuing into adulthood (Kolbe, 1990; Kann, 1993).

Prevention efforts are cost-effective, while the social and economic costs of inaction are intolerable. Failure in school, underachievement, and related health problems have serious repercussions for students, their families, and ultimately, the economic health of the nation (Harvard School of Public Health, 1992).

The standards for comprehensive health and physical education emphasize those health problems most often identified in research. Studies indicate six primary causes of our major health problems:

  1. Behaviors that cause intentional and unintentional injuries
  2. Drug and alcohol use
  3. Tobacco use
  4. Sexual behaviors that lead to sexually transmitted diseases, including HIV infection, and unintended pregnancy
  5. Inadequate physical activity
  6. Dietary patterns that cause disease

Each of these areas is addressed by the core curriculum content standards for Comprehensive Health and Physical Education.

These standards link the efforts of the student, the family, the school, and the community to focus on behaviors that interfere with health and learning. The standards are an integral part of the core education program that considers the whole child, including his or her intellectual capacity, physical and emotional health, and social adjustment. Both physical education and health standards emphasize life-long participation in physical activities, learning to play by the rules, and good sportsmanship. The standards provide information and skills to develop responsible citizens who are both health-literate and physically educated.

The standards in this section lay the groundwork for local school districts to develop a comprehensive health and physical education program that challenges all students. In developing its family life education curriculum, local school districts should continue to consult with the community as required by current regulations. If however, a parent or guardian feels that the content of the family life standard is in conflict with sincerely held moral or religious beliefs then, pursuant to N.J.A.C. 6:29-4, 2 (j), the pupil may be exempted from that part of the instructional program. Focusing on behaviors that interfere with lifelong learning and long-term wellness, the standards specify the essential knowledge and skills needed to address those significant health problems that impede the health, fitness and productivity of our citizens.

It is the growing belief that any future advances made in improving the nation's health will not result from spectacular biomedical breakthroughs. Rather, advances will result from personally initiated actions that are directly influenced by the individual's health-related attitudes, beliefs, and knowledge.

-- American Medical Association

In the great work of education, our physical condition, if not the first step in point of importance, is the first in order of time. On the broad and firm foundation of health alone can the loftiest and most enduring structures of the intellect be reared.

-- Horace Mann


Allensworth, D., Symons, C., and Olds, R. (1994). Healthy students 2000. Kent, Ohio: American School Health Association.

Harvard School of Public Health. (1992). Creating an agenda for school based health promotion: A review of selected reports.

Joint Committee on National Health Education Standards. (1995). National health education standards: Achieving health literacy.

Kann, L., ed. (1993). Measuring adolescent health behaviors: The youth risk behavior surveillance system and recent reports on reaching high-risk adolescents. Atlanta: Public Health Reports.

Kolbe, L. (1990). An epidemiological surveillance system to monitor youth behaviors that most affect health. Health Education, 16.

National Association for Sport and Physical Education. (1992). Outcomes of quality physical education programs.

National School Boards Association. (1991). School health: helping children learn.

Standards and Assessment Task Force of the National Association for Sport and Physical Education. (1995). National physical education standards: A guide to content and assessment.>

>U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services. (1991). Healthy people 2000: National health promotion and disease prevention objectives. Washington, DC.

Comprehensive Health And Physical Education List Of Standards


All students will learn health promotion and disease prevention concepts and health- enhancing behaviors.


All students will learn health-enhancing personal, interpersonal, and life skills.


All students will learn the physical, mental, emotional, and social effects of the use and abuse of alcohol, tobacco, and other drugs.


All students will learn the biological, social, cultural, and psychological aspects of human sexuality and family life.


All students will learn and apply movement concepts and skills that foster participation in physical activities throughout life.


All students will learn and apply health-related fitness concepts.

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