Almost Four in Five Students Fail to Meet State’s Minimum Fitness Standards
Almost 80% of California's fifth-, seventh- and ninth-graders failed to meet the state's minimum fitness standards in testing last spring, the Contra Costa Times reports (Shire, Contra Costa Times, 12/11). The test monitors six "major fitness areas": aerobic capacity, body composition, abdominal strength and endurance, trunk strength and flexibility, upper body strength and endurance and overall flexibility. Students are evaluated based on age- and gender-appropriate standards. To be considered fit, students must meet the minimum fitness standard for all six areas. Seventy-seven percent of students tested failed to meet the standard for all six areas. Forty-nine percent met the standard in at least five of the six areas (California Department of Education release, 12/10). Fewer than 50% of students were able to meet the aerobic capacity standard of running or walking one mile, and more than 31% of students did not meet the minimum standard for body composition or flexibility (Contra Costa Times, 12/11). Delaine Eastin, Superintendent of Public Instruction, said, "I am concerned that more students were not successful in meeting all six fitness standards. Especially alarming is that nearly half were unable to achieve the minimum fitness standard for aerobic capacity, which is perhaps the most important indicator of physical fitness" (CDE release, 12/10). But Fernando Viteri, a UC-Berkeley obesity researcher, said that the limited data offered "little real information about the physical fitness of California's youth." He added that testing "rarely practiced activities," such as push-ups and pull-ups, does not "give an accurate read on [children's] fitness level" (Contra Costa Times, 12/11). Results of the test are available at http://www.cde.ca.gov/statetests/pe/pe.html.This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.