Higher percentages of students in the Long Beach Unified School District are passing state physical fitness exams than their counterparts in Los Angeles County and the State of California.
Meeting five of the state exam’s six Healthy Fitness Zone requirements is considered to be a passing score. Using this yardstick, LBUSD physical fitness scores surpass those of Los Angeles County at all grade levels tested. LBUSD’s scores also surpass the state’s scores in all but one grade level tested, missing the state average in seventh grade by less than one percentage point.
LBUSD’s competitive performance comes despite the school district’s more challenging demographics. About 70 percent of students here live in poverty, compared to 57.5 percent statewide.
Physical fitness scores here increased most significantly in ninth grade, with the passage rate up 5 percentage points over the prior year. LBUSD’s curriculum staff includes a physical education curriculum leader who has helped teachers to focus more intently over the past year on offering students three alternatives for passing the aerobic capacity portion of the state exam: a one-mile run, a “pacer test” involving a series of increasingly quick 20-meter runs, and a walk test that takes into account one-mile time, heart rate and weight.
The result of these efforts in ninth grade was a 62.1 percent passage rate on the aerobic capacity portion, up 3.9 points over the prior year. Ninth graders also saw significant improvements in body composition (body mass index), upper body strength and flexibility.
In seventh grade, LBUSD’s passage rate of 54.6 percent represents a 0.4 percentage point increase over last year, while the fifth grade passage rate of 49.6 percent represents about a 2-point drop compared to the prior year. Despite the slight decline in fifth grade scores here, these students still outperformed their peers countywide and statewide.
The incentive for students to pass the state physical fitness test increases in high school. Students who pass five out of six Healthy Fitness Zones can earn exemption from physical education classes in their junior and senior years, allowing these students to take elective classes instead. Many students who earn the exemption, however, still opt to take P.E. electives such as yoga, dance, basketball, soccer and weight training.
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