Fewer than one-third of California students who took a statewide physical fitness test this year managed to pass all six areas assessed, new results show.
State Supt. of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson, a longtime cross-country coach who has made physical fitness a signature issue, announced the results this week as he launched a program to improve children's health. The campaign will use such celebrity athletes as NBA all-star Bill Walton and others to visit schools to urge students to drink more water, eat more fruits and vegetables and increase their exercise.
"When only 31% of children are physically fit, that's a public health challenge we can't wait to address," Torlakson said in a statement.
The results for the 1.34 million students tested in fifth, seventh and ninth grades showed a decline in all three grades over last year. Scores had been steadily improving since 2006. To pass the test, or score what state officials call a "healthy fitness zone," a ninth-grade male, 5 feet 6 and 150 pounds, would need to run a mile in nine minutes, perform at least 16 push-ups and do at least 24 curl-ups. Body fat is also measured, along with flexibility.
About 25% of fifth-graders passed all six sections; 32% of seventh-graders and 36.8% of ninth-graders did so.