It’s that time of year, all 5th, 7th, 9th, and 11th grade Physical Education classes are completing their fitness testing. I have so many thoughts on this and still haven’t really figured out where I stand. I see the value in testing for physical fitness and using that data to set goals, but I think that the with the current state of obesity in the US, this testing does not truly indicate a child’s chances of being a healthy adult.
In our district, we use the FitnessGram test. Students must pass 5 of the 6 components: Aerobic Capacity, Body Composition, Upper Body Strength, Abdominal Strength/Endurance, Flexibility (shoulder or hamstring), & Trunk Extensor Strength to be considered “healthy”.
In my opinion, although these are standardized tests, they should not be used to determine whether or not a PE teacher is effective, someone’s health or lack thereof, or predict the likeliness of one becoming a healthy or unhealthy adult. They also should not be a determining factor in whether or not a student is required to take PE in high school. I believe all of this mostly because every teacher I have seen administer the tests does it differently. So if this is the case, how accurate can the results be?
Time Is A Precious Thing
With testing, timing is everything. A student’s test scores can vary from day to day or from the beginning of the day to the end of the day. Proper sleep, nutrition, hydration, etc., all play a factor in how well a student will do. Does that mean that we should be administering the test multiple times to get the most accurate results?
Also, PE classes are notoriously large. At our school, they range anywhere from 45-60 per class, per teacher. That means that tests such as the Curl-Up test are impossible to get through in one class period. And while students are testing, what are the other students doing? Are they sitting there doing nothing, waiting patiently? Are they doing an activity unsupervised because the teacher is administering the test? There has to be a better way to administer the tests in a timely manner, without taking away from precious instructional time.
Inputting Data Is A B****
I’m lucky enough to have 6th graders and thus do not have to report my data to the state. However, I see what my 7th grade teachers have to go through. It is a tedious process of clicking individual drop downs and buttons on the district page. And before that, teachers had to bubble in each student’s scores on a scantron. So a teacher spends precious minutes copying down scores during testing and then having to input those scores a second time. Again, there has to be a better way!
What The Heck Happens To The Results?
So the students have tested and the teachers have submitted the scores. What happens to that data? Do the students receive it? Do the parents receive it? Does the district receive it? Where does it go? We don’t see their fitness scores compiled with their other standardized tests? Why not? The scores could be a valuable tool in setting summer fitness goals or starting points at the beginning of the school year. The scores should travel with the student to any new schools they attend or when they move on to high school, just as other standardized tests do. But instead, they seem to sort of disappear. There has to be a better way.
So at the end of the day, I’m just complaining with no solution to the problem. But it sure does get me thinking of how I can better use the tests to my advantage as a teacher and as a tool to engage my students in fitness practices. As far as some of the logistical stuff, I feel like it’s a district and state problem that needs to be addressed.