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Wednesday, April 06, 2011

SMMUSD Students Score Higher than State Average in Fitness Results

BY JULIE FULMER WALLACH

The results are in for the California Department of Education fitness tests.
All public school students in grades five, seven, and nine are required to take a physical fitness test that includes measurements of aerobic capacity, body composition, abdominal strength, trunk extensor strength, flexibility, and upper body strength.
Aerobic capacity is “the most important indicator of physical fitness and assesses the capacity of the cardio-respiratory system by measuring endurance,” according to a California Department of Education physical fitness report.
Students are tested by performing “The Pacer,” a multi-stage fitness test set to music that is suggested for kindergarten through third graders as an alternative to the customary distance run. Older children are to run or walk one mile at the fastest pace possible.
In the Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District, a total of 2550 students were tested with scores averaging 82 percent in the “Healthy Fitness Zone.”
In order to meet the criteria for the zone, a 13 year-old female should be able to run a 9-13 minute mile, with a BMI of 14.9-24.5 and be able to complete 18-32 curl-ups.
Males of the same age should be able to run a mile in 7-10 minutes, have a BMI of 15.1-23 and complete 12-40 curl-ups.
Students statewide did not fare as well, with 1.32 million students tested and less than a third of students scoring in the HFZ.
Students are weighed and measured to calculate BMI.
Skinfold measurement is preferred but not always available.
While physical education classes have been cut in other districts due to budget constraints, according to Webster Elementary School principal Phil Cott, physical education classes have not changed in SMMUSD in quite awhile.
Cott said, “The district assigns a physical activities specialist to meet with first through fifth grade classes in groups of 40 to 60 (two classes). Students get 125 minutes of physical education per week.
“At Webster, the PTA funds a physical education aide position so we have a P.E. coach for each class.” Cott added.
Chi Kim, principal at Point Dume Marine Science Elementary School said, “PE has been a program that has never been cut from our district budget.
“[At PDMSS], grades one through three get 120 minutes per week of PE instruction, and grades four and five get 120 (when we have dance classes)- 140 (when we have daily PE) minutes per week of PE instruction.”
Kim said, “The program emphasizes teamwork and a great deal of aerobic warm up exercises, stretches and agility moves to become heart healthy as well as with a balance of relays, games and traditional sports like soccer and basketball.”

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