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The FITNESSGRAM and How it Affects You

Kailey Withers, Photograph Editor

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   Physical Education (PE) is a high school requirement that assesses children’s overall health and fitness. One way this is examined is through the FITNESSGRAM® Testing. According to the California Department of Education (CDE), the FITNESSGRAM has to be taken in grades five, seven, and nine in order to get an accurate representation of physical activity (cde.ca.gov). Though all high schoolers residing in California have to take this test, not many know much about it.
   According to the CDE, “The statewide physical fitness testing program was first authorized in 1976 and reestablished in 1995 as part of the California Assessment of Academic Achievement Act (Assembly Bill [AB] 265 which added EC Section 60800)” (cde.ca.gov). This means that introducing the FITNESSGRAM into PE curriculum was a statewide decision.
   According to the CDE, “The State Board of Education designated the FITNESSGRAM as the Physical Fitness Test (PFT) for students in California public schools. The FITNESSGRAM is a comprehensive, health-related physical fitness battery developed by The Cooper Institute.” The main goal of the FITNESSGRAM is to encourage students to start a habit of regular physical activity (cde.ca.gov).
   According to the CDE, “The FITNESSGRAM assesses three fitness components: aerobic capacity, body composition, and muscle strength” (cde.ca.gov). “Students are tested on their Body Mass Index (BMI), PACER (Progressive Aerobic Cardiovascular Endurance Run), curl-ups, push-ups, trunk lift, and the shoulder stretch. Students must pass five out of the six presented tests. If the student fails to do so, they will be granted another opportunity to pass by taking PE again, the following year. This continues until they pass the FITNESSGRAM. If the student fails to pass by their senior year, it will not prevent them from graduating,” said PE Teacher Bonnie Newmark.
   According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), “BMI (Body Mass Index)  is a person’s weight in kilograms divided by the square of height in meters. In general, BMI is an inexpensive and easy-to-perform method of screening for weight category, for example: underweight, normal or healthy weight, overweight, and obesity” (cdc.ca.gov). Calculation of a person’s BMI indicates where their personal weight stands, healthwise. “BMI allows students to recognize where there is room for improvement. If you have a kid who is five feet tall but weighs over two hundred pounds, there is some room for that child to make improvements,” said Newmark.
   “The PFT results should not be used as the sole basis to evaluate individual students in physical education (e.g. grading), teacher effectiveness (e.g. teacher evaluations), or the overall quality of a physical education program,” said the CDE (cde.ca.gov). “The FITNESSGRAM is not counted towards a student’s grade. As long as they’re trying and putting in effort, there is not much more I can ask for,” said Newmark.

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The news site of University City High School
The FITNESSGRAM and How it Affects You