Abstract Background It is important to quickly and efficiently identify policies that are effective at changing behavior; therefore, we must be able to quantify and evaluate the effect of those policies and of changes to those policies. The purpose of this study was to develop state-level physical education (PE) and physical activity (PA) policy domain scores at the high-school level. Policy domain scores were developed with a focus on measuring policy change. Methods Exploratory factor analysis was used to group items from the state-level School Health Policies and Programs Study (SHPPS) into policy domains. Items that related to PA or PE at the High School level were identified from the 7 SHPPS health program surveys. Data from 2000 and 2006 were used in the factor analysis. RESULTS: From the 98 items identified, 17 policy domains were extracted. Average policy domain change scores were positive for 12 policy domains, with the largest increases for “Discouraging PA as Punishment”, “Collaboration”, and “Staff Development Opportunities”. On average, states increased scores in 4.94 ± 2.76 policy domains, decreased in 3.53 ± 2.03, and had no change in 7.69 ± 2.09 policy domains. Significant correlations were found between several policy domain scores. Conclusions Quantifying policy change and its impact is integral to the policy making and revision process. Our results build on previous research offering a way to examine changes in state-level policies related to PE and PA of high-school students and the faculty and staff who serve them. This work provides methods for combining state-level policies relevant to PE or PA in youth for studies of their impact.