New California Physical Fitness Test scores show Santa Clara County fifth-graders 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.
State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson released statewide figures Nov. 15. Across the state, only 25.3 percent of fifth-graders posted healthy scores in all six areas of the 2012 Physical Fitness Test. In Santa Clara County, the percentage was 21.9 percent.
In our Silicon Valley Patch towns, there was wide variation. 49.3 percent of Los Altos Elementary School District fifth-graders posted healthy scores in all six test areas.
But in the Los Gatos Union School District, the number was 0.0 percent; not a single fifth-grader posted the necessary scores in the flexibility fitness area, which is a shoulder stretch. 361 kids were tested; not a single one was able to successfully complete the shoulder stretch test.
79.5 percent passed in five of six tests. It should be noted the Los Gatos district also failed to have anyone pass in all six categories in 2011.
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 attend school in the Palo Alto Unified District. Students there scored highly, at 43.7 percent, close to the scores of Los Altos.
Students in Saratoga were above the state and county average, testing at 32.6 percent. Cupertino kids did not do as well. Their 22.8 percent was about 2.5 percent below the state average.
Scores for seventh- and nineth-graders in Santa Clara County remained virtually unchanged year to year. 33.3 percent of seventh-graders, and 42.7 percent of ninth-graders successfully completed 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."
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.
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.
Here is a graph Patch has 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.
2011-2012 Santa Clara County Physical Fitness Report
District by District Comparison