Benicia Students Buck State Trend on Fitness Testing

Benicia students scored much higher in fitness test than statewide average.

Benicia boasts a higher percentage of fit children than the state average and in one category- Trunk Extension Strength- has over 90 percent of all tested students rated as fit.

The lowest rated category for Benicia students was Body Composition for fifth grade students where 53.5 percent were considered fit. However, as students age that number goes up.

Fewer than a third of the more than one million fifth-, seventh- and ninth-graders in California who took the 2012 Physical Fitness Test posted healthy scores in all six of the tested areas, according to results released by the state.

State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson called the statistics, in which just 31 percent of the students were noted as healthy, “a tremendous public health challenge.”

This “affects more than their health – study after study has demonstrated the very clear link between physical fitness and academic achievement,” he said.

However, Torlakson said he was pleased to observe that students generally became more fit as they grew older, scoring better in Grades 7 and 9 than they did as fifth-graders.

The numbers in the Benicia Unified School District  reflected that trend; 359 fifth-graders, 400 seventh-graders and 406 ninth-graders were given the tests. The scores for the students can be viewed here .

The FITNESSGRAM program used by the state has six individual tests including aerobic capacity, body composition, abdominal strength, trunk extensor strength, upper body strength, and flexibility.

The California State Board of Education designated the FITNESSGRAM in 1996 as the required Physical Fitness Test that local educational agencies administer to students annually in grades five, seven, and nine.

State law requires all public schools in California to report the findings in their School Accountability Report Cards and provide students with their individual results.

The categories measured are:

  • Aerobic capacity, via a one-mile run.
  • Body composition, by skinfold measurements.
  • Abdominal strength and Endurance, by curl-ups
  • Truck extensor strength and flexibility, by a trunk lift in inches.
  • Upper body strength and endurance, by 90-degree push-ups, a modified pull-up and flexed arm hang.
  • Flexibility, by a sit-and-reach and a shoulder stretch – touching fingertips together behind the back on both the right and left sides.

Torlakson’s Team California for Healthy Kids initiative engages celebrity athletes, community leaders, public health advocates, parents, teachers and students to partner together to help students make healthy choices.

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If there’s something in this article you think should be corrected, or if something else is amiss, call editor JB Davis at 707-628-0051 or email him at benicia@patch.com.

B. Z. November 30, 2012 at 07:47 PM
So if 53.5 percent of fifth graders were considered fit, that means 46.4 percent were NOT considered fit. I'm tired of the lip service educators give to physical education. California Education Code 51210 requires 200 minutes of physical education over a 2 week period, NOT TO include recesses. At my child's school, they get forty minutes a week, if it's not cancelled entirely for some other purpose. How is it that schools adhere to parts of the Education Code and not to others? Well, at least the kids hands are strong from using all those pencils to practice for standardized tests.
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