Students in the Long Beach Unified School District have significantly improved their physical fitness exam scores, surpassing their counterparts in Los Angeles County and the State of California in all of the grade levels tested, according to data released today by the California Department of Education.
More than 1.3 million fifth, seventh, and ninth graders statewide took the exams during the 2013-14 school year. Students take a series of six separate tests that measure aerobic capacity, body composition, abdominal strength, trunk extensor strength, upper body strength and flexibility.
The percentage of LBUSD students meeting six out of six of the Healthy Fitness Zone requirements is higher than the percentages at both the state and county in each of the grade levels.
Meeting five of the state exam’s six Healthy Fitness Zone requirements is considered to be a passing score. By state law, high school students who meet this standard qualify for exemption from physical education classes in their junior and senior years (though many of these students still opt to take P.E. electives such as yoga, dance, basketball, soccer and weight training). Using the five-of-six yardstick, LBUSD’s scores again surpassed state and county scores at all grade levels.
Each grade level here saw improvement over the prior year. Ninth grade physical fitness scores increased 4.3 percentage points over the prior year and are now up 9.3 percentage points in just two years. LBUSD’s seventh graders also saw a second consecutive year of gains and improved by 3.6 percentage points over the prior year. Fifth graders here scored 1.6 percentage points higher than last year.
LBUSD’s curriculum staff includes a physical education curriculum leader who has helped teachers to focus more intently in recent years on offering students as many of the allowed alternatives as possible for students to demonstrate their fitness on the exams. For instance, the aerobic capacity portion of the exam can be assessed with a one-mile run, a "pacer test" involving a series of increasingly quick 20-meter runs, and a walk test that takes into account one-mile time, heart rate and weight.
LBUSD's competitive performance comes despite the school district's more challenging demographics. According to 2013-14 data, about 68 percent of students here qualified for free and reduced price meals, a measure of poverty, while the statewide figure was about 59 percent.
Go to http://dq.cde.ca.gov/dataquest/ for full test results.