Is this a joke?
This is from the website of the California Department of Education, an outline of the six areas to be tested:
- Aerobic Capacity: PACER (Progressive Aerobic Cardiovascular Endurance Run), One-Mile Run, Walk Test (only for ages 13 or older)
- Abdominal Strength and Endurance: Curl-Up
- Upper Body Strength and Endurance:Push-Up, Modified Pull-Up, Flexed-Arm Hang
- Body Composition: Skinfold Measurements, Body Mass Index, Bioelectric Impedance Analyzer
- Trunk Extensor Strength and Flexibility: Trunk Lift
- Flexibility: Back-Saver Sit and Reach, Shoulder Stretch
To be designated as a "fit child," one has to pass the test in all six areas. I guess in a world where general intelligence of children is measured by testing in about 6 subjects, it only makes sense that physical fitness would be measured in exactly the same way. But the PFT is even worse than the academic testing that our children have to endure. Because at least the schools try to teach the kids what will be on the academic tests before testing them.
In P.E. class when I was in school, we did things like play floor hockey or softball. We did not practice for the activities on the PFT. How were we supposed to get better at the test activities if we never trained for them? Did standing around holding a hockey stick give us any hope of getting better at doing pull-ups? They would check our "progress" twice a year, as if a few months playing in gym glass twice a week for 30 minutes should be enough to magically increase our scores on the specific test criteria. And then they were shocked when some of us hadn't "progressed."
If these six things are so important to our childrens' health, then why isn't P.E. class dedicated solely to training for them? And if they aren't important enough to do that, then why are we testing them?
I would have been one of the failures. I'm pretty certain I would still fail this test today, even though I consider myself fit. As I have shared before, I could never do a pull-up as a child. And I couldn't run (still can't). I never once passed the physical fitness test (PFT). But I was also on a swim team. I attended daily swim practices (until I quit). Did the fitness test account for that? Nope. I was unfit because I didn't meet their (carefully selected, I'm sure) criteria. Was I obese? Nope. But I would have contributed to the percentage of students who failed this test. I would have been someone they referred to as part of a nationwide health crisis.