What if I told you that nearly two-thirds of California’s kids do not pass one of the most important tests in school?
I hope you would ask: “Whoa, what’s going on here,” or something comparable.
Well, the results are in for the California Kids Physical Fitness tests for 2012.
Only about 31 percent of students posted healthy scores in all six of the tested areas—for the second year in a row.
Holding steady at this low level is not a good sign for the academic and physical health of our students.
According to California State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson, “When we can call fewer than one out of three of our kids physically fit, we know we have a tremendous public health challenge on our hands. We owe it to California’s kids to give them more opportunities for exercise, along with better access to healthy foods and clean, fresh water.”
Study after study shows a clear link between fitness and academic success. According to research by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention:
- “There is substantial evidence that physical activity can help improve academic achievement (including grades and standardized test scores).
- The articles in this review suggest that physical activity can have an impact on cognitive skills and attitudes and academic behavior, all of which are important components of improved academic performance. These include enhanced concentration and attention as well as improved classroom behavior.
- Increasing or maintaining time dedicated to physical education may help, and does not appear to adversely impact, academic performance.”
Too many of our children are not receiving the physical education they need during the school day. This is the result of the increased emphasis on academic testing in No Child Left Behind (NCLB) as well as severe education budget cuts in schools throughout the state.
There is some good news.
Local community and state efforts are helping to address this.
In San Francisco, for example, a private/public partnership Shape Up SF is working with the school district to support more physical education.
At the state level, Torlakson’s Team California for Healthy Kids initiative, engages celebrity athletes, community leaders, public health advocates, parents, teachers, and students in making healthy choices.
But if we are really serious about helping our schools and helping our children, providing quality physical education for all children at all schools must be a priority.
And that requires funding to hire qualified teachers, provide professional development and make sure there is time in the school day at every school for physical education.
The California State PTA supports high-quality daily physical education for all children in kindergarten through grade 12.
For more health information from the PTA, check out PTA Health Tidbits. This includes health information, timely health announcements from government agencies and partners, events for the coming month, and grant opportunities.
You can find more information about the results of the fitness tests here.