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CT Special Education: What is Adapted Physical Education?

by Joseph C. Maya on Mar. 20, 2017

Other Education Other  Juvenile Law 

Summary: Blog post on adapted physical education (APE) requirements in Connecticut schools.

If you have a question or concern about special education law, school administration, federal standards, or the overall rights of a student, please feel free to call the expert education law attorneys at Maya Murphy, P.C. in Westport today at (203) 221-3100 .

For over 35 years, adapted physical educators have played a critical public education role in supporting students with disabilities. During this same time period, parents, administrators, related service providers, teachers, and students have asked for clarification regarding the specific role of adapted physical education within the public school environment. The purpose of this document,Connecticut State Department of Education Guidelines for Adapted Physical Education, is to clarify these guidelines and to underscore the importance of physical education ”in the context of meaningful physical participation within a community of peers” for students with disabilities.

This guide describes the steps for determining appropriate placement of a student in an APE and/or general physical education program. The document adheres to the intent of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act, and the Americans with Disabilities Act and its accompanying amendments.

This state guidelines document for adapted physical education (APE) will assist APE teachers in assessing, planning and implementing their instructional programs which are based on the Connecticut curriculum framework for physical education and the annual goals of the Individualized Education Program (IEP). The guide provides rationale for providing APE students who are identified as needing individualized and specialized physical education in accordance with federal law and state statute. The guide explains the laws and statutes that are the basis for APE. The information is organized with the intention of providing guidance that will properly place and serve students in the most appropriate physical education program.

The legal mandates section describes federal legislation including Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, and explains commonalties and differences under Section 504 and the IDEA. Clarification of the qualifications to teach adapted physical education is included. The guide defines APE best practice for Connecticut schools and promotes collaboration between special educators and adapted physical educators. Adapted physical education is defined along with the assessment continuum in APE. An extensive resource bank of assessment instruments is provided which is intended to equip the planning and placement team, including the adapted physical educator, in the referral process and making appropriate eligibility and placement decisions. Transitions through the developmental stages are addressed as well as service delivery models and curriculum and instruction within the most inclusive environment possible.

Timely education initiatives such as Scientific Research-Based Interventions (SRBI) and Student Success Plans (SSP) are explained as they apply to students with special needs. Several prominent issues for APE students are addressed, including physical fitness and assessment, obesity in disabled children and adolescents, and the role of schools and families in promoting healthy weight and overall well-being. Physical activity, therapeutic recreation and sports participation are also discussed, along with popular and emerging technology in adapted physical education.

A section is included for frequently asked questions about adapted physical education services, and fact sheets are provided for adapted physical education teachers and general physical educators, for teachers and other specialists, for administrators and for parents and guardians.

The appendix sections of the guide include comprehensive lists of adapted physical education assessment tools and resources. Suggested modifications for children with disabilities for the Connecticut Third Generation Physical Fitness Assessment are also included in the guide.

If you have a child with a disability and have questions about special education law, please contact Joseph C. Maya, Esq., at 203-221-3100, or at, to schedule a free consultation.


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