Why Become Certified

The roots of Adapted Physical Education extend back into the mid-1800's when physicians prescribed "Remedial Exercises" in an attempt to correct or ameliorate "handicaps". The field went through a variety of transformations over the intervening century and a half. A great deal of thorough research has been conducted which brings to light effective methods for adapting Physical Education to meet the needs of people with disabilities. The training of those who provide Adapted Physical Education has evolved to exacting levels. Finally, society has come to realize that people with disabilities are actually a minority who possess different yet valuable abilities from the mainstream and as such, have the same rights to a free and appropriate education as the rest of society.

The time has come for those trained and charged with providing this specialized education to be recognized as being specialists who bring unique skills and insight to the teaching of Physical Education. APENS defines the foundation of those skills and knowledge and provides a proven method for certifying those who possess them.

APENS is now ready to launch a coordinated program to bring about appropriate professional recognition. Over the next three years, we will be undertaking the following:

  • Obtaining ongoing endorsements of APENS
  • Working with States to adopt APENS certification
  • Provide assistance to individual CAPEs wishing to gain recognition from their school boards
  • Establish a means whereby CAPEs can exchange "best practices" and which will keep them abreast of the latest developments in the field. Establish an annual conference of CAPEs - forum where those in the profession can meet and exchange ideas and experiences
  • We will commence a continued  review of the 15 Standards and certification exam to ensure that they are up to date with current practice

By becoming a CAPE, you will have an opportunity to personally help give our profession a unified voice and with that, the recognition it deserves.

On a personal level, you will receive the following:

  • Teachers that pass the exam will be certified by the NCPEID for a period of 7 years. These teachers will be listed in the NCPEID's national registry of certified adapted physical educators. They will also be given a one year membership in NCPEID.

  • Successful candidates will receive a certificate documenting that they are certified adapted physical educators and will be able to list the initials CAPE after their name.

  • APENS is currently winning endorsements from a variety of National organizations. This growing recognition forms the backbone of a program to gain professional recognition and commensurate compensation from school districts across the nation.

Who Can Become Certified

Persons who are eligible to become a CAPE fall into three categories;

  • Recently graduated, qualified Physical Education Teachers (Exam)
  • Professional Physical Educators (Exam)
  • Persons teaching in Higher Education (Non Exam)

Each of the above categories have specific definitions and require proof of certain qualifications. These are detailed in the instructions under Certification. Once you have determined which category you belong to, click on the appropriate link to download the appropriate Application Form. The forms are in Rich Text Format and are easily printable. They contain precise instructions for filling them out and sending them to the APENS office.

NOTE: Persons who have already received the CAPE and are applying for recertification after the initial 7 year CAPE certification expires, will follow the guidelines as posted under recertification on the application and website.

How to become CAPE Certified

Criteria for Eligibility

Candidates applying for the national CAPE certification must meet the following criteria established by the APENS Board of Directors and supported by the APAC/AAPAR Highly Qualified Adapted Physical Education Teacher Position Paper. There are three options available for Adapted Physical Educators/Physical Educators, persons in Higher Education and professionals (directors of Special Olympics, sport programs, etc.) who work with individuals with disabilities in physical activity/education to become CAPE certified.

Sit for the APENS exam. All initial candidates applying to earn the CAPE Certification MUST take and pass the APENS exam.

Candidates must meet the following minimum criteria to be eligible to sit for the APENS exam.

  1. 1. Bachelor's degree with a major in Physical Education or equivalent (e.g., Sport Science, Kinesiology, etc.).
  2. A minimum of *twelve semester hours (credits) specifically addressing the educational needs of individuals with disabilities. It is required that nine semester hours (credits) be specific to the area of adapted physical education or meet the following criteria:
    • Satisfactory completion of a minimum of 9 credits in APE coursework and 3 credits of coursework from a related field (e.g. special education, speech, OT, PT, recreation, psychology) as documented with official college/university transcripts.
    • Satisfactory completion of a minimum of 6 credits in APE coursework and 3 credits in coursework from a related field as documented with official college/university transcripts; and up to 3 credits awarded for professional experience teaching APE as documented in writing from a local education agency.
      Note: Up to 3 credits can be awarded with documented years experience teaching APE.  The following formula would apply and must be documented in writing from a local education agency.  For every two years of full-time teaching in APE, 1 credit of requirement can be earned/awarded.  The total amount of professional experience teaching APE that can be applied to the 12 credit eligibility is 3 credits (i.e., acknowledgment of up to 6 years of teaching experience in APE).
  3. A minimum of 200 hours of documented experience providing physical education instruction to individuals with disabilities.
  4. A current valid teaching certificate in physical education.
    *Evidence of coursework must relate to physical activity and students with disabilities as set forth by state and/or national standards for professional preparation in adapted physical education. The National Consortium for Physical Education and Recreation for Individuals with Disabilities (NCPEID) and the Adapted Physical Activity Council (APAC) believe that coursework in adapted physical education should provide evidence of competency in the following areas:
  • Disability studies
  • Motor assessment of individuals with disabilities
  • Report writing
  • Special education law
  • Development of individualized education programs (IEP)
  • Adaptations and modifications for physical education
  • Behavior management
  • Collaboration and consultation skills
  • Advocacy skills
  • Instructional design and planning
  • Individual teaching and learning styles
  • Inclusion practices
  • Community and family resources
  • Professional leadership
  • Assistive technology for physical education

Review Procedures
The aforementioned criteria shall be reviewed by the APENS standing committee members. Results of their review will be sent to the APENS administrative office who will report the findings in letter format to the candidate to determine eligibility to sit for the APENS exam.

Where necessary, it will be up to the APENS standing committee members to request additional information (e.g. course syllabus, title of text book used, etc.) in order to meet the 12 credit criteria.

Recently graduated, qualified Physical Education Teachers

The exams are held on a rolling basis and can be taken at your school or a a campus near you. You must apply for this by means of an an application form. To make things easier, the form has been divided into two sections, one for sitting for the exam and one for obtaining certification when you pass the exam.


Professional Physical Educators who have earned their initial CAPE certification and who would like to recertify must meet the following criteria.

A Professional Physical Educator who is applying under this option must provide verification or documentation of each of the following, but does not need to sit the exam:

Valid general physical education teaching certificate.

Minimum of ten (7) years (full-time) teaching experience in physical education with students with disabilities (this includes experience in integrated and/or segregated environments).

Accrued fifteen (15) points in the following five (5) categories over the past seven (7) years:

Category (point value and maximum)

1) Elected official or board member of one (1) state or national adapted physical education/sport organization for a minimum of one (1) year (2 points per year for a maximum of 6 points).

2) Provided a presentation or inservice at a state or national level related to adapted physical education (1 point per presentation for a maximum of 3 points).

3) Have taken and successfully passed a 3-credit hour college or university graduate level course in adapted physical education (3 points per course for a maximum of 9 points).

4) Possess a valid adapted physical education state licensure/endorsement which required the successful completion of a minimum of four (4) semester credit courses in adapted physical education (3 points).

5) Supervised interns or student teachers in adapted physical education for a minimum of 200 hours (2 points).

In categories 1-3, up to three experiences can be counted. For example, in taking and successfully passing four adapted physical education classes, three of the four may be counted for a total of nine points from that category. Experiences in categories 4 and 5 may only be counted once.



This category is for Academics in Higher Education, Agencies, and/or Organizations.

Provide appropriate verification or documentation of each of the following:

Major in physical education, adapted physical education (minimum of 15 hours), special education or related area in a doctoral program.

Taught a minimum of 2 years in higher education or public/private school environment in the area of adapted physical education.

Minimum of 9 semester hours of supervising college/university students in practica, internships, and/or student teaching related to the direct instruction of students with disabilities in physical education environments.

Provide verification or documentation of tenure and significant adapted physical education teaching responsibilities since 1993.

If you have any questions concerning the various applications or eligibility criteria, please contact us at (607) 753-4969 or email us at apens@cortland.edu.