School physical fitness tests may soon grind to a halt in California. Governor Gavin Newsom wants to pause the tests for three years. The move is a result of concerns over bullying—and an increasing number of “not healthy” test results.
California’s current school fitness tests began in 1998. The tests include six parts. They assess flexibility, strength, and aerobic capacity (how well the heart and lungs get oxygen to the muscles) as well as body mass index (BMI). BMI calculates both weight and height to determine whether a person is underweight, normal weight, or obese.
According to the California Department of Education website, the tests “show a level of fitness that offer[s] a degree of defense against diseases that come from inactivity.”
School districts nationwide use such tests. Experts agree they can inform growing children about potential health problems. Sadly, students sometimes use results from tests and BMI measurements to ridicule others.
“The issue of BMI screening plays a role in the issues of both body shaming and bullying,” says H.D. Palmer, spokesman for the Department of Finance.
Since 2014, California fitness test reports show a steady decline in how many students receive “healthy” results. Scores have mainly dropped in the category that measures aerobic capacity—often by a one-mile run.
In the last five years, the percentage of California fifth graders scoring "healthy" in the aerobic category has dropped over three percentage points. In seventh and ninth grades, the drops average around four percentage points. Meanwhile, the percentage of students shown as “needing improvement” and having a “health risk” went up.
During the proposed physical fitness test program’s stoppage, the state would study whether the current test should be changed.
What is the value of physical fitness tests for students? What are possible drawbacks? What does God say about harming others with words?
For while bodily training is of some value, godliness is of value in every way, as it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come. — 1 Timothy 4:8
(Students stretch during a fitness class at Capri Elementary School in Encinitas, California. AP Photo/Gregory Bull, File)