New scores for the California Physical Fitness Test show Santa Clara County fifth-grade students are in worse shape than their like-aged counterparts from throughout the state—by a little more than three percent—and their fitness levels have dropped from a year ago.
The test was administered to 1.3 million California students representing 93 percent of pupils enrolled in fifth, seventh, and ninth grades. 20,315 Santa Clara County students took the test.
State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson released statewide figures Nov. 15. Across the state, only 25.3 percent of fifth-grade students posted healthy scores in all six areas of the 2012 Physical Fitness Tests. In Santa Clara County, the percentage was 21.9 percent.
In our Silicon Valley Patch towns, there was wide variation. Bullis Charter School fifth-graders tested highest, at 53.1 percent, meaning they were able to pass in all six areas of the test. Los Altos School District fifth-graders tested at 49.3 percent. The individual school scores, which can be found at the California Department of Education site, ranged from 35 percent to almost 69 percent.
Students in Saratoga were next, testing at 32.6 percent. Christa MacAuliffe School, however, was 3.4 percent.
Cupertino Union School District kids did not do as well. Their 22.8 percent average was about 2.5 percent below the state average, though individual schools ranged from a high of 48 percent to a low of 1.5 percent. At Montclaire School, which is located in Los Altos and part of the Cupertino Union School District, 5th graders came in the lowest of any Los Altos schools, at 23.8 percent.
But in the Los Gatos Union Elementary District, the number was 0.0 percent—not a single fifth-grader was able to post the necessary scores. The next level down, in the five-of-six test measure, 79.5 percent were able to pass. This is a repeat of 2011, when the Los Gatos district also failed to have anyone pass in all six categories, as well.
In Campbell, kids in the Moreland Elementary District bested their counterparts at Campbell Union when considering all six tests, 30.8 percent to 24.5 percent.
The Mountain View Whisman District saw 28.5 percent of its students pass in all six categories.
Some students from Mountain View and Los Altos Hills attend school in the Palo Alto Unified District. Students there scored highly, at 43.7 percent, close to the scores of Los Altos.
Scores for seventh- and ninth-graders in Santa Clara County remained virtually unchanged year to year. Of the seventh-graders 33.3 percent and 42.7 percent of ninth-graders are able to successfully complete all six of the fitness test tasks. That compares with statewide numbers of 31.9 percent and 36.5 percent respectively.
“When we can call fewer than one out of three of our kids physically fit, we know we have a tremendous public health challenge on our hands,” Torlakson said. “It affects more than their health—study after study has demonstrated the very clear link between physical fitness and academic achievement."
It uses a so-called Healthy Fitness Zone (HFZ) to indicate if the student's level of fitness is sufficient for good health.
To score in the HFZ, the test requires that a five-foot six-inch, 150-pound, 15-year-old ninth grade male run a mile within nine minutes, perform at least 16 push-ups, and do at least 24 curl-ups.
The six tests are:
- Aerobic capacity
- Body composition
- Abdominal Strength
- Trunk Extensor Strength
- Upper Body Strength
While aerobic capacity is an indicator of physical fitness, body composition is perhaps the most important indicator of who will develop future health problems.
The 2011-2012 Physical Fitness Test results for Santa Clara County schools, school districts, other counties and the state are available on the California Department of Education Web site. Choose the "Meeting HFZ Summary Report."
Here is a graph Patch compiled for you, indicating a 2011-2012 district-by-district comparison, with the percentages of fifth-graders from each Silicon Valley school district that were able to complete six of the six fitness standards, and five of the six fitness standards. We've also broken out individual Los Altos schools in other districts.
2011-2012 Santa Clara County Physical Fitness Report
District by District Comparison