Parent’s Guide to the Physical Fitness Test
The State Board of Education (SBE) designated the FITNESSGRAM® as the Physical Fitness Test (PFT) for students in California public schools. The FITNESSGRAM® is a comprehensive, health-related physical fitness battery developed by The Cooper Institute. The primary goal of the FITNESSGRAM® is to assist students in establishing lifetime habits of regular physical activity.
Public school students in grades five, seven, and nine are required to take the PFT, whether or not they are enrolled in a physical education class or participate in a block schedule. These students include those enrolled in elementary, high, and unified school districts, county offices of education, and charter schools. School districts should also test all students in alternate programs, including, but not limited to, continuation schools, independent study, community day schools, county community schools, and nonpublic schools. Students who are physically unable to take the entire test battery are to be given as much of the test as conditions permit. (Education Code (EC) Section 60800 and the California Code of Regulations, Title 5, Section 1041).
The PFT provides information that can be used by (1) students to assess and plan personal fitness programs; (2) teachers to design the curriculum for physical education programs; and (3) parents and guardians to understand their children’s fitness levels. This program also provides results that are used to monitor changes in the physical fitness of California students. By law (Education Code Section 60800), all school districts in California are required to administer the PFT annually to all students in grades five, seven, and nine.
The FITNESSGRAM® is composed of the following six fitness areas, with a number of test options provided for most areas:
PACER (Progressive Aerobic Cardiovascular Endurance Run)
Walk Test (only for ages 13 or older)
Abdominal Strength and Endurance
Upper Body Strength and Endurance
Body Mass Index
Bioelectric Impedance Analyzer
Trunk Extensor Strength and Flexibility
Back-Saver Sit and Reach
The FITNESSGRAM® uses objective criteria to evaluate performance for each fitness area (e.g., body composition, abdominal strength, and endurance). The Cooper Institute established these criteria using current research and expert opinions. These criteria represent a level of fitness that offers some protection against the diseases associated with physical inactivity.