The Hill

School Districts Required To Have Physical Fitness Tests In New Bill

Lawmakers in Oklahoma want to improve how the local government monitors and supports children’s health across the state. A new bill has been proposed at the state capitol that would require every school district to regularly conduct physical fitness tests for 3rd to 12th grade students.

The House Bill 1051 mainly aims to provide the government with data on the health of children. It would also guide officials in creating health interventions for students, News 9 reported Thursday.

The bill comes after childhood obesity has become a serious problem in the U.S. The number of obese children and adolescents remains too high across the country, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). 

Latest estimate shows that obesity affects nearly 13.7 million young Americans aged 2 to 19 years. Oklahoma ranked as one of the 10 states with highest childhood obesity rates, according to a study by the Robert Wood Foundation. 

HB1051 would require students to take tests focused on their aerobic ability, strength, flexibility and body composition. Data collected by schools will then be submitted to the State Board of Education, but officials noted students will be anonymous. 

Lawmakers also proposed to not include children with disabilities to school physical fitness tests. If approved, Oklahoma school districts will start the tests in 2021.

Problems With School Fitness Tests

Meanwhile, California Gov. Gavin Newsom wants to end the state’s 25-year-old school physical fitness test. Called FitnessGram, it involves a body fat test that officials said has been causing anxiety in students, EdSource reported

However, some state officials noted ending the required fitness test would make more children less active, affecting their health in the future. Around 30 percent of all adolescents in California are considered overweight or obese, Education Dive reported Tuesday.

Linda Darling-Hammond, president of California’s State Board of Education, suggested that the local government finds a replacement before eliminating FitnessGram. The new program should focus on helping children avoid obesity and diabetes.

Health experts also said that the government should create a program that is “age appropriate” and would help children develop skills for lifelong fitness. Schools in Alabama and West Virginia are also requiring students to take the FitnessGram tests to measure their physical fitness levels. 

Operation Live Well Expo Children get an aerobic workout during Zumbafest Aug. 1, 2013, at the Operation Live Well Expo at Fort Sill. Army Medicine/flickr

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