Large-scale fitness testing allows tracking of youth fitness and provides research data that may lead to improved physical education; but it is not without its detractors.
The Texas Youth Evaluation Project accomplished a huge task in a short amount of time. The state-mandated testing program, with $2 million in private funding, engaged 20,000 teachers in 9,000 schools (85% of districts) to test 2.5 million youth in grades 3 through 12.
Such a large-scale testing program has many benefits but is not without its critics. On the positive side, a large survey can help experts understand youth fitness trends over time. It supports other research about the relationship of fitness to better attendance and lower composite indicators of delinquency. Such testing provides students, teachers and parents with useful information and highlights the need to reduce childhood obesity.
On the negative side, the dangers of institutional testing include taking time away from other important physical educational objectives, placing a burden on teachers and risking that students have negative experiences.
For such a project to continue, the Texas Youth Evaluation Project will need to find funds to replace its current private funding. Officials should consider using other forms of testing, such as personal self-testing and personal best testing. The fitness testing data must not be used to assess physical education program quality.
Much has been learned that can be applied to other large-scale fitness testing projects in Texas and elsewhere.
Special Supplement to Research Quarterly for Exercise and Sport Presents Findings of Texas-Wide School-Based Fitness Testing
- 1. Overview of the Texas Youth Fitness Study
- 2. Distribution of Health-Related Physical Fitness in Texas Youth
- 3. The Association of Health-Related Fitness with Indicators of Academic Performance in Texas Schools
- 4. Reliability and Validity of the FITNESSGRAMÂ®
- 5. Statewide Physical Fitness Testing
- 6. A Survey of Physical Education Programs and Policies in Texas Schools
- 7. Physical Education and School Contextual Factors Relating to Students' Achievement and Cross-Grade Differences in Aerobic Fitness and Obesity
- 8. Psychosocial Variables Associated with Body Composition and Cardiorespiratory Fitness in Middle School Students
- 9. Reflections on the Texas Youth Evaluation Project and Implications for the Future
- 10. Texas Youth Fitness Study