PECAT: Frequently Asked Questions

PECAT users might have questions that arise as they begin the curriculum analysis process. Below are answers to the most frequently asked questions.

For additional information about the PECAT, including an introduction, rationale, and related resources, please refer to the print version.

FAQ Handout Cdc-pdf[PDF – 200 KB]

Print the FAQ Handout to use with the PECAT committee or to share with key stakeholders.

About the PECAT

The Physical Education Curriculum Analysis Tool (PECAT) is a self-assessment and planning guide developed by that helps school districts conduct a clear, complete, and consistent analysis of physical education curricula.

The PECAT helps users enhance, develop, or select appropriate and effective physical education curricula for the delivery of quality physical education, which will improve the ability of schools to positively influence motor skills and physical activity behaviors among school-age youth. To do this, the PECAT:

  • Assesses how closely physical education curricula align with national standards for high quality physical education programs
  • Analyzes content and student assessment programs that correspond to national standards for physical education for four grade levels: K–2, 3–5, 6–8, and 9–12
  • Assists school districts or individual school programs in identifying revisions needed in locally-developed curricula

The PECAT was developed in partnership with physical education experts representing state education agencies, school districts, individual schools, colleges/universities, and national organizations in the United States.

The PECAT is meant to be completed by a PECAT committee or team and should not be completed by one individual person. This allows multiple perspectives and areas of expertise to be applied to the completion of the PECAT. It also gives teachers, administrators, students, parents, and community members a means of contributing to physical education curricula. In addition, allows for a wide variety of input sources to shape plans to improve school programs. A PECAT committee might include

  • District curriculum director
  • District physical education administrator
  • Physical education teachers from elementary, middle, and high schools
  • Members of the district school health council
  • Health education teachers
  • School health nurses
  • Public health and non profit professionals
  • Parents
  • Students
  • College physical education faculty who are teacher educators

All PECAT committee members should have an investment in the physical education needs and interests of students at the state, school district, or school level.

The PECAT can be completed online or on paper. Both methods are equally effective. The online version might save time because it enables you to

  • Save your responses in the system
  • Leave and re-enter the system as often as you would like
  • Have your module scores be automatically calculated
  • Archive previous versions of the PECAT, which help you keep records if you plan to complete the PECAT annually
  • Print and share scorecards and PECATs with team members, administrators, and others

No. You can determine which items in the PECAT are useful and important to include in your curriculum analysis and development or selection process and how you want to use PECAT items in your review process.

Not all sections may apply to the curriculum being reviewed. For example, if the curriculum being reviewed is developed for students in elementary school (grades K–5) then the content and student assessment analysis forms specific only to those grade levels will be used. If the curriculum being analyzed is not being considered for purchase, the affordability analysis might not be applicable.

The PECAT was field tested for readability and user-friendliness. We have no validity and reliability data for the simple reason that the PECAT is not a research tool; it is a community-organizing and educational tool.

Cost and Time

The PECAT is available free of charge. You can either complete the PECAT online, download copies Cdc-pdf[PDF – 1.4 MB] or order printed copies. In addition, you can request a copy by email at CDC-INFO or by phone at 1-800-CDC-INFO.

The main cost associated with implementation of the PECAT is time. Many schools have done it with no funding at all, merely finding some dedicated time—perhaps part of a staff development day or teacher workday—for a curriculum development committee to come together to complete the self-assessment modules.

No. The PECAT was developed with federal funds by a federal agency, so you do not need any permission to use it.

Field testing of the PECAT has shown that it can be completed in as little as 6 hours, although this will vary depending on various factors, including the amount of time needed to collect information or for discussion.

Several factors should be considered when planning the time needed to implement the PECAT process, including

  • Each reviewer’s understanding of physical education
  • Each reviewer’s familiarity with the PECAT
  • Each reviewer’s familiarity with the National Standards for Physical Education and with state or local standards that are addressed within the curriculum under review
  • Each reviewer’s familiarity with the curriculum being reviewed
  • The breadth and scope of the curriculum under review; for example, a multi-grade curriculum will require more time than a single-grade curriculum
  • The number of curriculum materials involved—more time will be required for a curriculum that includes ancillary or support products, such as videos/DVDs, workbooks, teacher guides, family involvement materials, than for a curriculum with no extra materials
  • The orderliness of a curriculum—more time will be required for a curriculum that is disorganized, fragmented, or incomplete than for one that is packaged and well organized
  • The extent to which curriculum materials are easily available for all reviewers; for example, the process will take longer if members have to share materials than if they have their own complete package of materials

Privacy & Reporting

No. The CDC does not ask that schools report their scores. The PECAT is a self-assessment process, and the data are not meant to be reported to outside agencies for the purposes of comparison. One school district might rate a commercially written curriculum differently than another. This varies based on your organizational goals and values.

No. Your online PECAT scores will not be automatically sent to anyone. The only way your school’s information can be viewed by someone outside of your review team is if you share your reference code with them or add their e-mail address to the list of persons who can access your online PECAT.

Is my school or district going to be punished if we score poorly on the PECAT?

Absolutely not. The PECAT will help the school or school district determine its own strengths and weaknesses solely for the purposes of self-improvement.

Physical Education Standards

While the standards are applicable for all grade levels, there are differences in the ways they are evaluated.

For example, consider Standard 1: Demonstrates competency in motor skills and movement patterns needed to perform a variety of physical activities. An assessment question for the K–2 PECAT might ask, “Does the curriculum include at least one follow-up learning experience, like the introduction of basic tossing skills and then tossing the ball back and forth with partners?”

Meanwhile, the 9–12 PECAT might assess the same standard but ask a question that includes more mental and physical complexity, such as, “Does the curriculum allow for follow-up learning experiences to use basic and advanced skills, like the initial practice of polka steps broken down into basic form, and then followed by demonstrating the correct pattern set to music?” Each question addresses the same standard, but applies differently to the mental and motor skills of students at the different grade levels.