Test Shows Many S.D. County Students Out Of Shape
San Diego County public school students posted slight gains on a state physical fitness test compared to last year, but the majority are still considered out of shape.
The FITNESSGRAM tests California public students in the fifth, seventh and ninth grades. The students have to satisfy six fitness benchmarks which include flexibility, aerobic capacity and abdominal strength.
Results show only 31 percent of San Diego County fifth graders satisfied all six physical fitness benchmarks. Thirty-eight percent of seventh graders made the grade while 42 percent of high school freshman met all six.
State Superintendent of Public Instruction Jack O'Connell is calling on California schools to improve student fitness and nutrition.
“Students who eat well and stay in physical shape perform better in school. We have fewer behavior problems in school,” O’Connell said. “So when we want our students to meet higher academic standards, it’s important that schools stay focused on improving health and student fitness.”
In the San Diego Unified School District, results show 25 percent of fifth graders did not meet half or more of the fitness requirements. Nineteen percent of seventh graders and 20 percent of high school freshman did not meet half or more.
Some teachers say there's not enough time to cover fitness and nutrition. Others say state budget cuts are hurting physical education.
O'Connell says he understands the challenges but there are no excuses.
“I don't buy it and the chairman of the Governor's Council on Physical Fitness doesn't buy it. We know strong bodies and strong minds work together to help our students succeed. So they can succeed in school, their career and in life.”
O'Connell is standing by the results despite concerns about their accuracy. Some critics say there's not enough oversight when the tests are administered. Others say many students don't take the tests seriously.