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  • Physical Education Teaching

    UW-La Crosse has been a state and national leader in preparing physical education teachers for decades. Our graduates, certifiable to teach kindergarten through high school, teach in all 50 states and several foreign countries. Study is broad based, with emphasis on motor skills, fitness, scientific principles, teaching strategies, and program development. 

    The UWL program balances traditional, individual and fitness activities with non-traditional physical education activities such as backpacking, ropes courses, and rock climbing. This balance provides students with numerous experiences to enhance their professional development. Because of its exceptional quality, the UW System has identified this program as a Center of Excellence, a designation reserved for high quality undergraduate programs.


    Our vision is to be the preeminent national leader in the preparation of physical education teachers in a society where all persons enjoy, regularly participate in, understand the benefits of, and advocate for physical activity for lifelong healthy living.


    We strive to achieve our vision by … preparing reflective  physical education teachers who integrate their content knowledge  with an understanding of developmental  characteristics in all learning domains to create, organize, manage, improve, and assess learning  for diverse  groups of students, and to communicate, motivate, and advocate  for lifelong physical activity for healthy living.  These globally responsive professionals are leaders  in their communities who bridge the gap between theory and evidence-based  practice through extensive clinical preparation in partnership schools.  They are personally committed to physical activity in their lifestyles , partake in continuous professional development , and collaboratively plan and implement standards-based  physical activity interventions using a variety of pedagogies and technologies  that are learner-centered .

    Career Opportunities

    Numerous career options are available for graduates of the Physical Education Teaching Program. Public and private school teaching and coaching positions are the primary employment options for graduates. Business organizations and the U.S. military also employ physical educators. Our bachelor's degree provides a solid foundation for graduate education and advanced work in physical education and other related fields.


    Our placement record has been excellent. Even during periods of oversupply, UWL graduates have experienced greater success in the job search than those from other schools. Our graduates are highly regarded by school districts and placement has been outstanding throughout the past decade.

    For additional information, please contact the Program Director.


    Amy Tischler, Ph.D. 
    Physical Education Teaching Program Director 
    216 Mitchell Hall 
    University of Wisconsin-La Crosse 
    1725 State Street 
    La Crosse, WI 54601 


     Application deadlines are the first Friday of October, January, February and June (4:00 p.m.)

    1. Submit entire application folder to Dr. Kristi Mally, PETE Program Director, 210 Mitchell Hall. Leave application folder in Dr. Mally's mailbox outside of her office.
    2. Clearly label and assemble the following items, in the order they are listed, in a standard pocket folder:
      • Current Resume:  Including personal and contact information, (i.e., name, local address, home phone, cell phone and UWL email address), major/minor/concentration, and any work related experience and professional involvement
      • Health Related Fitness assessment pretest, individual fitness plan, posttest, follow up reflection, and rubric completed by ESS 118 instructor
      • Leadership Experience Reflection Paper
    3. After review of your application folder (approximately two weeks following submission of application folder), candidates meeting minimum criteria will be contacted via email to arrange the interview portion of the application process.
    4. The entire application process is worth a maximum of 75 points. The process consists of 5 components, each worth a maximum of 15 points (minimum GPA, PPST, fitness assessment, leadership experience reflection paper, and interview
    5. Admission decisions will be sent to students via email within one month following the application deadline.
    6. The College of SAH Dean's Office will be notified of candidates approved for admission and will formally admit students to the School of Education as ESS - Physical Education Teaching Majors
    Admission to the PETE Program is competitive, and not all who apply can be accommodated.  All students meeting the minimum requirements are not guaranteed admission to the program.

    Application Requirements and Points Distribution

    1. Completion of Foundation Courses - Students must earn a C or better in each course.
      • ESS 112 Fundamentals of Movement
      • ESS 118 Introduction to the Physical Education Teaching Profession
      • ESS 225 Introduction to Physical Education Teaching Methodology
      • BIO 103 or 105 or MIC 100
      • HPR 105 Creating a Healthy, Active Lifestyle
    2. Completion of 30 college credits
    3. GPA and Pre Professional Skills Test (PPST) (15 points maximum for each GPA and PPST)
      1. Minimum 2.75 Overall GPA is required to apply for the program 

        GPA Points
        3.50 - 4.0 15
        3.00 - 3.499 10
        2.75 - 2.999 5
      2. PPST Test Scores

        PPST Test Area Score Range Points
        Reading 185-190 5
        180-184 3
        175-179 1
        Math 183-190 5
        180-182 3
        173-179 1
        Writing 184-190 5
        179-183 3
        174-178 1
      3. Follow this link for information on preparing for the PPST/PRAXIS I Test

    4. Health Related Physical Fitness Assessment and Reflection Paper  (15 points max possible)
      Students will complete a fitness pretest (flexibility, pacer run, push-ups, curl-ups, body mass index, and trunk lift), develop an individual fitness plan to improve or maintain their personal fitness levels over one semester, complete a fitness posttest, and write a reflection indicating their commitment to maintaining a healthy and active lifestyle as a role model for future students. This entire process will be completed while enrolled in ESS 118.  The instructor of ESS 118 will administer and assess all components of this part of the admission process using the following rubric. Items to include in the application packet include: Pretest results, individual fitness plan, posttest results, follow up reflection, and completed rubric from the instructor.

    5. Fitness Component Rubric
      ITEM Basic Proficient Advanced
      Individual Fitness Plan
      (Basic = 1 pt; Proficient = 3 pts.; Advanced = 5 pts)
      Strengths & weaknesses Describes current level of fitness - shares pretest scores Describes current level of fitness - shares pretest scores 
      Identifies and describes areas of weakness & strength
      Describes current level of fitness, shares pre-test scores
      Identifies areas of weakness & strength and reflects upon individual behaviors and choices that have lead to current level of fitness
      Fitness Plan Plan is basic and generic Plan is aligned to both strengths and weaknesses
      Plan includes goals, activities, and timeline
      Plan includes goals, activities, and timeline that are realistic, attainable, and measurable
      Plan includes a process for self monitoring and assessment throughout semester
      (HFZ = Healthy Fitness Zone)
      Meets 2 HFZ = 1 pt
      Meets 0-1 HFZ = 0 pt
      Meet 4 HFZ = 3 pts
      Meet 3 HFZ = 2 pts
      Meet 6 HFZ = 5 pts
      Meet 5 HFZ = 4 pts
      Follow up Reflection
      (Basic = 1 pt; Proficient = 3 pts.; Advanced = 5 pts)
      Description of results Pretest & posttest scores included Pretest & posttest scores included
      Identifies areas of improvement or clear indication of maintaining fitness
      Pretest & posttest scores included
      Identifies areas of improvement or clear indication of maintaining fitness
      Articulates specifically how their individual plan affected the final results of the posttest
      Future Lifestyle Identifies how personal fitness plan impacts daily life Identifies how personal fitness plan impacts daily life
      Identifies changes to improve individual fitness goals for a future active lifestyle
      Identifies how personal fitness plan impacts daily life
      Identifies changes to improve individual  fitness goals for a future active lifestyle
      Articulates the importance of modeling a healthy active lifestyle as a future physical education teacher and identifies the NASPE standards that relate to goal setting for individual fitness

      Health-related physical fitness testing accommodations are available for individuals with documented disabilities.  Please contact the Program Director if there are any questions concerning accommodations.

    6. Leadership Experience Reflection Paper  (15 points max possible)
      Students must participate in and reflect upon a leadership experience in a Pre-K-12 environment, (i.e., YMCA, park and recreation work, teaching in a summer program/camp, youth sports coaching, leading physical activities, supervising playground, etc.). The experience must include at least 8 hours of active involvement, and can be paid or volunteer work. Applicants must provide a reflection paper addressing the three items described in the following rubric. The reflection should be double spaced using 12 point font, 1 inch margins, and a minimum of 2 pages-maximum of three. Your reflection must be signed by the person who supervised your experience, or must include written documentation from your supervisor (such as an email).

      Leadership Experience Rubric
      ITEM Basic
      0-2 pts
      3-4 pts
      5 pts
      Description of Experience Describes the experience
      (at least 8 hours)
      Describes the experience
      (at least 8 hours)

      Reflection addresses importance/value of experiences as related to candidates education
      Describes the experience
      (at least 8 hours) 

      Reflection addresses importance/value of experience as related to candidates education  and  future goals as a physical education teacher

      Provides specific examples
      Areas of Growth Identifies three areas of growth Identifies & discusses three areas of growth and provides an overall connection between the experience & growth Identifies/discusses three areas of growth

      Includes  specific examples  of experiences  representing each area of growth

      Clearly links  each  area of growth to the teacher standards
      Areas for Improvement Recognizes a need for improvement

      Identifies one area in need of improvement
      Recognizes a need for improvement

      Identifies & discusses one area in need of improvement

      Links this area to the specifics of the experience
      Recognizes a need for improvement

      Identifies & discusses one area in need of improvement AND explicitly links this to the experience AND to the  teacher standards

      Includes a potential action plan to begin to eliminate the weakness
    7. Interview  (15 points max possible)
      Once all application materials have been reviewed and approved, students will be contacted by the interview chair who will set up an interview schedule and solicit applicants to sign up for a 20 minute interview.  The interview questions will be sent to the applicants. Interviews will be scored by three faculty members and an average score will be determined.

      The purpose of the interview is to evaluate oral communication skills and ability to relate current issues, content knowledge, experiences, and personal qualifications to the knowledge, skills, and dispositions necessary to become an effective physical education teacher.

      Interview Rubric
        Not Acceptable (0) Basic (1 point) Proficient (3 points) Advanced
      (5 points)
      Oral Communication Skills Minimal to no eye contact made.

      Verbal responses are apparently lacking in clarity and logical thought.  A lack of connection between ideas is present.  Lack of organized thought.

      Critical and conceptual thinking is not apparent.

      Poor grammar.
      Eye contact with 1-2 reviewers some of the time.

      Verbal responses are generally clear and logical in thought.  Follows line of reasoning and organized thought in most responses.

      Critical and conceptual thinking is apparent in some responses.

      Responses sometimes consist of inappropriate grammar, insensitive language.
      Eye contact with 1-2 reviewer most of the time.

      Verbal responses are mostly clear and logical in thought.  Follows line of reasoning and organized thought in all responses.

      Critical and conceptual thinking is apparent in most responses.  Responses are supplemented with examples and previous experiences.

      Responses seldom consist of inappropriate grammar and insensitive language.
      Equal eye contact with all interviewers.

      Verbal responses are all clear, logical, and presented in a confident manner.

      Critical and conceptual thinking is apparent in all responses.  Responses are supplemented with examples, previous experiences and factual information from professional sources.

      Responses never consisted of inappropriate grammar and insensitive language.
      Knowledge & Commitment to the Physical Education Profession Not able to identify the most important issues to the profession.

      Little to no apparent professional commitment exhibited.

      Does not exhibit the need to advocate the value of physical education.
      Identifies the one important issue to the profession.

      Identifies the importance of professional development as an ongoing process.

      Expresses ability to advocate the value of physical education.
      Identifies multiple important issues and exhibits some understanding of the problems.

      Indicates commitment to professional development processes through general though reasonable plans and activities.

      Expresses ability and energy to advocate the value of quality physical education with reasonable, identified solutions/activities.
      Identifies multiple important issues and is able to offer reasonable solutions to the problem.

      Indicates commitment to professional development with specific, formal plans and activities.

      Expresses ability and energy to advocate the value of quality physical education with ability with multiple solutions/ activities appropriate for multiple target audiences (e.g. parents, administrators, other teachers, etc.).
      Professionalism and Self-Confidence Not on time for interview.

      Inappropriate dress (shorts, T-shirt, sweats).

      Interest in interview process is lacking or not apparent.

      Does not seem to be prepared and appears to know little of the PETE program.

      Self-confidence is lacking or not apparent
      Too casual dress for professional interview.

      Appears interested and is alert during interview.

      Hesitant at times - sometimes self-confident.
      Appropriate casual for interview.

      Appears interested, alert, and exhibits controlled enthusiasm.

      Behaves with self-confidence most of the time.
      Professional dress (slacks/suit/tie/skirt/dress slacks).

      Is very self-confident and exhibits positive personality.

      Completion of Minimum Requirements Does NOT guarantee admission into the PETE Program

    Appeal Process

    There are two situations that may require a student to submit an appeal.  An appeal to apply  is for students who do not meet either the minimum requirements for GPA OR the minimum requirements for the PPST (students can only appeal one, not both). An appeal of denied admittance  is for students who have completed the application process but were denied admittance.

    1. Appeal to apply:   Students may appeal to have their applications considered for admission to the PETE program if they are deficient in one, but not both, of the following:
      • Minimum passing scores for the PPST (Students must pass at least two areas and must demonstrate having taken the failed PPST component a minimum of three times before an appeal will be considered. In addition the student must be able to demonstrate having taken measures to improve that particular score.) or
      • Minimum  2.75 GPA

    Steps to making an Appeal to Apply

    1. Prepare an appeal packet for the PETE Appeals Committee containing
      1. Student written statement of appeal, which includes:
        1. Identification of requirement being appealed.
        2. Reason(s) why the requirement was not satisfied.
        3. Why the committee should approve a waiver in this case ( for example, in justification of the request, please submit convincing evidence of academic success, personal circumstances beyond your control, prospects for success as a teacher, etc.).
        4. In the case of an appeal involving the PPST, students are advised to show that a significant effort has been made to prepare for each testing attempt (for example, working with an academic skills specialist/counselor).

      2. Two or three letters of support from faculty/staff or other professionals who can speak to the issue being appealed and the student's prospects for success as a teacher.

    2. Appeals to Apply are only accepted at the J-term and Summer application dates. Appeals must be submitted to Dr. Kristi Mally, PETE Program Director, 210 Mitchell Hall before 4:00 on the 2nd Friday of December for J-term, or the 2nd Friday of May for summer. 

    3. Students will be notified in writing, via email, of the appeal decision. Please refer any questions to Guy Herling, Assistant to the Dean, 228 Graff Main Hall, .
    1. Appeal of denied admittance:   Within one week of being denied admission, a student must submit a hard copy letter of appeal, hand delivered to the PETE Program Director who will share it with the PETE faculty. The student may be asked to meet with the PETE faculty as part of the appeal process.  The decision after the appeal is final.  Students are allowed to apply for PETE admission twice during their academic career at UW-La Crosse.



    Introduction to Portfolio Process and Content:
    With the passage of PI 34 in 2004, all Wisconsin teacher preparation programs were mandated to ensure that teacher candidates (TC) demonstrate competency on the ten Wisconsin Teacher Standards (WTS) before graduating. Each university has their own process whereby students complete a portfolio demonstrating competency in these standards. At UW-La Crosse, TC's complete an electronic portfolio process on D2L. Competency is demonstrated via high quality artifacts and written reflections. An artifact  is a piece of work or hard evidence completed by the TC as part of course work and/or experiences related to teaching. Artifacts represent the TC's best work at that given moment in time within the program, and represent their competency of the WTS.

    All TC's enrolled in Teacher Education programs in Wisconsin must successfully complete a pre-student teaching and a post-student teaching portfolio  in order to earn their teaching license. The portfolio is not intended to serve as an employment portfolio, but instead is used to demonstrate competency within the ten WTS.

    Refer to  for an overview of the School of Education portfolio assessment process and for copies of the portfolio rubric.

    Note:   The PETE program has added an introductory benchmark to the school of education portfolio process, as a way to more fully prepare TC's to complete the two subsequent, more formal benchmarks.

    Assessment of the Portfolio:
    Portfolios are assessed by the TC's academic advisor, at two different benchmarks or times throughout the PETE program. Advisors use the Portfolio Reflective Narrative rubric to assess the portfolios to formally assess at both pre and post student teaching benchmarks. Data are collected from pre-student teaching and post-student teaching portfolios, are analyzed, and utilized for program revision. TC's must use the rubric when writing their reflective narratives.

    Reflective Narrative:
    At each Benchmark the TC will identify quality artifacts and will write a reflective narrative describing how the artifacts demonstrate competency within the teaching standards. Each standard must have a minimum of one connected artifact, but may have multiple artifacts. Additionally, one artifact can be used to defend more than one standard. TC's are encouraged to choose multiple, diverse artifacts to represent each standard. The goal is to demonstrate both depth and breadth of competency.

    The narrative begins with an introductory paragraph including -TC information, portfolio benchmark number, and identification of artifacts (i.e., name of the artifact and the course or experience it came). Next the narrative is divided into sections, each labeled for one of the teaching standards. Each section includes a description of the artifact(s) that are being used for the standard and a reflection articulating a clear connection between the standard and the various aspects of the completed artifact(s). When writing the narrative, refer carefully to the descriptors on the Portfolio Reflective Narrative rubric.

    The following grid provides prompts that TC's may find useful when writing the narrative sections, keep in mind however that these examples are not meant to be inclusive. Your personal experiences are the best content for these reflections. A quality narrative will be concise, yet explicit - pointing out and connecting specific parts of the artifact to the standard.

    Wisconsin Teaching Standard Sample Prompts for Reflective Narrative
    1. Content knowledge
    • What content knowledge did I utilize when completing this artifact?
    • How did I apply and combine multiple sources of content knowledge to complete this artifact?
    • How did I identify when students were inaccurate and what did I do about it to remedy their inaccuracies?
    1. Learner development and abilities
    • What do I know about learners' universal and variable abilities across all domains?
    • How did I use that knowledge when planning instruction?
    • How did my planning impact the entire learner?
    1. Learner diversity
    • What do I know about individual differences and barriers to learning?
    • How did I use this knowledge to adapt and modify?
    • Did I create an inclusive environment where all can learn?
    1. Instructional strategies
    • What do I know about various instructional strategies, specifically those that encourage critical thinking, problem solving and performance skills? (think in terms of task presentations, task structure, task engagement)
    • How did I go about choosing the instructional strategies?
    • How did I analyze the effectiveness of my choices?
    1. Learner motivation and engagement
    • What do I know about factors that influence learner motivation for various learners?
    • How did I recognize barriers and plan ahead of time to avoid these barriers?
    • How did I use this knowledge to create a positive environment for learner engagement?
    • What impact did my choices have on the learners?
    1. Use of effective communication
    • How did I communicate in an effective manner with learners?
    • Did I use various forms of communication when teaching?
    • What effect did my communication have on my learners?
    1. Planning for learning
    • How did I use what I know about subject matter, students, and curriculum to create relevance for the learners?
    • How did I know what I planned was relevant for the learner?
    1. Assessing learning
    • What do I know about the importance of assessment?
    • How have I used various assessment strategies to monitor learning?
    • Have I used data to design and alter instruction?
    1. Reflection
    • How did my choices and actions affect my learners?
    • How do I use feedback on my actions and behaviors to alter and improve instruction for learners?
    • What would I do differently next time to enhance learning?
    1. Professional relationships
    • What professional relationships are important to foster?
    • How have I started to foster these types of relationships?
    • How have these relationships impacted learners?
    • How did I interact with the community in this experience?

    Pre-Student Teaching Portfolio - completed final semester on campus, prior to student teaching

    1. Choose artifact(s) that represent your current competency on all ten standards.
    2. Write a reflective narrative that will have 11 sections, an introductory section and one section for each standard.
    3. Contact your advisor to identify how s/he would like to receive your materials. Submit to your advisor the first week of November/April.
    4. Advisors will carefully assess your reflective narrative using the Portfolio Reflective Narrative rubric, and will provide feedback specifically related to your ability to articulate your competencies according to the criteria on the rubric.
    5. TC will continue to revise the narrative until the Advisor gives approval.
    6. TC will upload the narrative and artifacts to D2L and inform his/her advisor. **This step should not be completed until the narrative has been approved by the advisor - the documents uploaded are to be considered the final copies**
    7. Once everything is on D2L, the advisor will complete the final assessment using the rubric, upload the rubric to the TC's portfolio on D2L, and send it via email to OFE.
    8. The student teaching coordinator will verify that you have completed this benchmark. TC can  NOT  student teach without completing this benchmark.

    Post-Student Teaching Portfolio - completed after student teaching semester

    1. Student teachers collect new artifacts for all 10 standards at both their elementary and secondary placements, and will write one narrative highlighting all 10 standards.
    2. Advisors will complete the same steps as were done in for the preparing to student teach portfolio, carefully using the  Portfolio Reflective Narrative Rubric .
    3. When TC is ready to advance, the advisor will complete the rubric, upload it to D2L & submit it via email to OFE.
    4. The student teaching coordinator will verify that you have completed this benchmark by the end of student teaching. TC will  NOT  receive licensure without completing this benchmark.



    1.   Second Undergraduate Degree  
      Physical Education Credits: 80,
      General Education Credits: U.S. Minority Cultures and Human Relations (6 credits), Life and Physical Sciences(6-8 credits), Non-Western History/International Cultures(3 credits), Literature(3 credits), HPR 105(3 credits),
      Must fulfill admission requirements of the undergraduate program in Physical Education            
    2. Master of Science Degree with Certification
      Graduate Credits: 39,
      Undergraduate Level Credits: 47(including student teaching),
      Tuition: Graduate students in PE pay graduate fees for all credits--including those at the undergraduate level.
      Once admitted to the graduate program, must earn passing scores on the Pre-Professional Skills Test (PPST) and hold at least a 3.0 undergraduate GPA
      The Master of Science degree in Physical Education requires 32 graduate credits, and students may choose either a thesis or non-thesis option. However, those seeking initial certification to teach PE will take a mixture of graduate and undergraduate courses. You are invited to view the  MS degree requirements.

    Choosing the Best Option for You

    Either option selected will take a full-time student  approximately 2-2 1/2 years to finish--depending on a student's academic background--and there are generally three key factors that lead students to chose one option over the other:

    1. The cost of undergraduate vs. graduate tuition
      Tuition for UW-La Crosse graduate students is approximately $600 more than that for undergraduates. Please logon to the Cashier's Office webpage for current fee information:  Cashiers FAQ.
    2. Perception of marketability of an undergraduate vs. a graduate teacher certification (for a teacher with no contractual experience in teaching) It is commonly believed that it is next to impossible for a certified teacher to find a teaching position when they have a master's degree and no teaching experience. There is some credence to this belief, as teachers with a master's degree are paid more than those with just a bachelor's degree; there are school districts which make a practice of hiring the least expensive of, otherwise, equally qualified candidates. However, UW-La Crosse's master degree level, initial certification candidates enjoy impressive success in the physical education teacher job market. The latest reports regarding teacher supply and demand in Wisconsin may be viewed at the following site: .
    3. Career goals
      Some candidates are considering coaching or teaching at the college/university level, or are interested in some other field related to physical education. For them, the master's degree is often a more attractive option.

    Request a Transcript Evaluation

    Prospective students are invited to request an evaluation of their transcripts. This will help to determine if any of their prior course work may be applied to the program's requirements. Candidates with a strong academic background in exercise science/kinesiology, and to some degree teacher education, may see a significant reduction in the number of required credits as listed above. You may request a transcript evaluation by sending legible copies of your transcripts and a brief cover letter outlining your career goals to:

    Guy Herling, Assistant to the Dean
    College of Science and Allied Health
    UW-La Crosse
    1725 State Street
    La Crosse, WI 54604

    Unfortunately, faxed copies of transcripts are usually difficult to read, so please send your request through the postal service--thank you.