Annual physical fitness tests in California may be put on hold while officials decide whether or not they are beneficial to students and if they are fair and up to date with modern health standards. Governor of California, Gavin Newsom, wants a 3 year pause on the tests so they can evaluate whether or not they are discriminatory to disabled and non-binary students.
NBC News reports about the move to put a hold on the tests and how over the last several years they have seen a dip in students scoring within the healthy range. A spokesman for the finance department, H.D. Palmer, explains how the state has received complaints regarding the fairness of the test in that it requires students to check male or female when filling it out and the Body Mass Index (BMI) is determined according to gender.
The BMI measurements have been under scrutiny for a while as to whether they can accurately predict health risks or whether a person is in a healthy range. And Palmer explains that in schools, “The issue of BMI screening plays a role in the issues of both body shaming and bullying.”
But many also worry about the rise in childhood obesity and how we can adequately educate students about their physical health. There has been a drop in physical fitness scores over the last five years, especially when it comes to the “aerobic capacity” which is tested with the one mile run. Fifth graders have dropped more than 3 percentage points in this category just over the last five years. Both 7th and 9th graders also saw a drop in this category between 3 and over 4 percent.
Former Governor of the state and famous body builder, Arnold Schwarzenegger, believes physical fitness and education are important in schools. He believes that fitness classes matter above all. Schwarzenegger explains, “Whether the state uses fitness tests or not, Governor Schwarzenegger believes that the most important thing is that our students have access to daily physical education classes to promote a healthy and fit lifestyle.” Spokesperson for Schwarzenegger, Daniel Ketchell, points out how the BMI numbers are unreliable for many people. Even Gov. Schwarzenegger would have been considered obese on the BMI chart when he weighed in at 240 pounds and won the title of Mr. Olympia in 1974.
What do you think of the current way kids are tested for physical fitness in schools?
How do you think schools should proceed in educating students about being healthy and physcial fitness?