Running towards a change


The Fitnessgram Fitness Test may be one of the most dreaded things by the students in the Bellefonte Area High School Physical Education curriculum. Why?

Well, it can’t be so much the physical exercise because most students have no issue with doing a few pushups or a few sit ups. Saying that students don’t mind running would be a lie, but there are worse things than running.

The biggest issue in the department’s current curriculum is how students are graded on their physical abilities.  It’s no secret that not everyone is in peak physical shape; not to mention those who just aren’t athletically talented or who have ailments that prevents them from completing strenuous physical tasks. It’s because of these many different factors that could hinder a person from completing the Fitnessgram Fitness Test with perfection, that grading this test based on performance should be removed from the curriculum. It’s fair to grade students on tests in subjects such as mathematics, social studies, English, and classroom based cognitive information, because that information can be taught by teachers and learned by students in the time designated. However, with physical education, it’s not plausible for the instructor to be able to teach someone how to run 70 pacers, or how to do 25 push ups, because the amount of time the instructors have with the students over the nine week course does not allow for such physical progress.

I hold nothing against our Physical Education teachers though; I have the utmost respect for them, and I hope the students respect them in the same way. However, no matter the level of excellence our teachers hold, it’s just not plausible because of the immense time and dedication it takes to be able to get a student to prime physical condition to complete the Fitnessgram Fitness Test with perfection. Not to mention our instructors aren’t tasked with just working with one student, but approximately 600 to 700 students out of our 850 total in the school.

It’s also worthy to note that the Fitnessgram Scientific Advisory Board released a position statement in 2014 on Fitness Testing and clearly stated that using the Fitness Test for grading a student is an inappropriate use of the Fitness Test. By continuing to grade students on their performance in the test, our Physical Education Department is clearly using the tests for the very thing that Fitnessgram stated that it should not be used for.

I have very high levels of respect for our Physical Education Department, its staff, and their opinions.  I look forward to continuing talks with the department and administration to find a solution that benefits both sides. In talking with administrators within our district, I have learned that they are open to talking about problems within the curriculum and are willing to change said curriculum if the students and staff see it is in the best interest of education and students. It’s important for students to know that their voice matters, and we as students, are the future, and we will bring about change as to benefit not only ourselves, but those who come after us for generations to come. Grading students based on their physical abilities is not fair, not just, and we will achieve a better system for everyone, together.