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State schools chief launches new initiative to encourage fitness

By Theresa Harrington
Thursday, March 24th, 2011 at 6:31 pm in Education, Theresa Harrington.

The California state Department of Education released annual fitness reports for grades 5, 7 and 9 today. Here’s the news release:

“With the latest physical fitness tests showing that only one student in three a posts a healthy score, Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson announced plans for a statewide campaign to improve the health and fitness of California’s 6.2 million schoolchildren.

‘Nothing is more important than the health of our children, and today’s results show that many of them need a helping hand to get fit and stay in shape,’ Torlakson said. ‘The Team California for Healthy Kids campaign will help students adopt the healthy habits that will help them succeed in the classroom today — and help them stay healthy over a lifetime.’

A high-school science teacher and long-time track and cross-country coach, Torlakson said the campaign would link schools with community leaders and athletes to foster new partnerships and put a spotlight on local efforts to encourage students to get more exercise—both at school and at home.

Torlakson said that the campaign would be co-chaired by Dr. Toni Yancey, Bill Walton, Bubba Paris and Dean Karnazes.

Torlakson announced the campaign as he released the results of the 2009–10 FITNESSGRAM®, which showed that less than a third of students tested scored in the Healthy Fitness Zone® (HFZ®) in all six fitness areas.

The test was given to approximately 1.32 million students in grades five, seven, and nine. Approximately 91 percent of the students enrolled in grades five, seven, and nine were administered at least one of the six FITNESSGRAM® tests.

To score in the HFZ®, the test requires, for instance, that a ninth grade male, who would be about 15 years old, run a mile within nine minutes, perform a minimum of 16, push-ups, and 24 curl-ups.

The 2010 test scores show that 28.7 percent of the students in grade five, 34.6 percent in grade seven, and 38.5 percent in grade nine achieved in the HFZ® for all six areas of the test.

The results represent a -0.5 percentage point decrease in grade five students’ scores, a 0.4 percentage point increase in grade seven students’ scores, and a 0.6 percentage point gain in grade nine scores compared to last year’s results.

The 2010 results also show that the number of grade five students achieving the HFZ® for all six areas of the test slipped slightly for the first time since 2006, when the performance standards were last revised. In addition, students in grades seven and nine have smaller increases than in previous years…Approximately 64 percent of grade nine students and more than 65 percent of grade five and seven students scored in the HFZ® for aerobic capacity, which is perhaps the most important indicator of physical fitness…Students in the Class of 2013 have shown steady improvement over similar students in the classes of 2009, 2010, 2011, and 2012.

Students from the Class of 2013 achieving the HFZ® in six out of six fitness standards in grade five scored 3.3 percentage points higher than the Class of 2009 students. The percentage of grade seven students from the Class of 2013 achieving the HFZ® in six out of six fitness standards was 3.8 points higher than the Class of 2009 students and 2.0 points higher than the Class of 2012 students. The percentage of grade nine students from the Class of 2013 achieving the HFZ® in all six of the fitness standards was 11.1 points higher than students from the Class of 2009 and 0.6 points higher than students from the Class of 2012.

The 2010 physical fitness results for schools, school districts, counties, and state are available on the CDE Web page at

All public schools in California are required to report results of physical fitness testing annually in their school accountability report cards. Schools are also required to provide students with their individual results. However, no individual student data are reported on the Internet.”

Are you satisfied with your school’s results?

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  • Exhausted Parent

    ‘The Team California for Healthy Kids campaign will help students adopt the healthy habits that will help them succeed in the classroom today — and help them stay healthy over a lifetime.’

    Sure. At the same time, our district is thinking of cutting out 4th and 5th grade Physical Education, which they only get once a week to start with. That’s what we need, Mr. Torlakson – another mandate from the state that we can’t afford.

  • Jim

    The state’s educrats haven’t had a particularly stellar record with reading, math, or English language instruction. So it’s time to move on to something else.

  • Doctor J

    I can see it coming now from SASS . . . . . .Board P.E.

  • Strategic Planning

    If they care about the health and learning ability of high school students, then let them sleep in! Studies show teens need more sleep. If they care about education, then give teens a 7 period day and block schedules. First ensure they have music and arts which is part of the academic curriculum for good reason, and after-school sports if possible. Until then PE can be an after-school program and should receive city and community support.

    Acalanes District (checking Acalanes HS) has 7 periods from 8:00-3:05. San Ramon District (checking California HS) starts A Period at 7:30 (or 8:35 on Mondays), 1st Period at 8:25 (or 9:25 on Mondays), and the school day ends at 2:55.

    In MDUSD my students have started A Period at 7:00 and they’re at school until 3:05 – an 8-hour day! Without A Period, they would start at 7:55, but have only 6 classes. Next year A Period classes are cut to only PE and Spanish III. Next year most students can take only 24 courses for graduation (compared to 28 at Acalanes) and 2 of those must be PE, which reduces our opportunity for classroom education.

    Hey Big Brother, first can we fix the EDUCATION at our schools?

  • Teacher

    So THIS is why we elected Tommy Torkelson to another cushy state job? The state’s schools are going down the tubes and he can only come up with this? I suppose that after all of the hits the schools took during his time in the Legislature, we shouldn’t be surprised. Maybe it’s time that he went back to college to become “highly qualified” to teach again. He may be “on Leave” from MDUSD, but there is no way that he is qualified to teach, based on all of the unfunded mandates that have been passed while he’s been “on leave”.