To Fitnessgram or not to Fitnessgram (or other fitness testing)

This blog post is one that I feel very passionately about, so be warned I will be giving you my opinion. This is my personal opinion and it does not reflect all PE teachers, my school, or anyone else. These are just my views on fitness testing in PE.

If you aren’t aware, the Fitnessgram is the fitness testing that my state says we must conduct every year. It is also the cause of so much unnecessary stress in my students. We perform the tests and we talk about what they are supposed to assess, but my main goal in fitness testing is to let it turn in to a conversation about goals, goal setting, and how to achieve these goals.

The fitnessgram tests we perform in my classroom are the PACER, Sit and Reach, Curl Up Test, and 90 Degree Push Up Test. Before I ever start testing them, or really even talking about fitness testing, I am bombarded with students asking what they have to do on the tests to get a good grade. This is when I am glad that we do this at the beginning of the year because it lets me tell them how I grade. I WILL NEVER AND HAVE NEVER graded a student based on their physical performance in my class, that is just not my style or classroom culture I want to create. Usually just telling them that, that they don’t have to reach the healthy fitness zone number of pacer laps to pass, or do a certain number of push ups, they immediately feel less stressed. I tell them I just want them to do their best, and when they feel they have done that, than I am happy. I cannot imagine grading students based on physical performance. Every student has a different background and is not the same athletically, having them have to run a certain amount to get a good grade is just mind blowing to me. This was the way it was done for me growing up, and although I succeeded at these kids of tests, I know not all kids will.

If I take the kids who don’t like being active, and then I make them be active, then I grade them badly, I am going to lose them forever. But if I can just tell them to do their best and that’s good enough, I have a chance to throughout the year get them to love some kind of physical activity. That is the ultimate goal. Most of my students light up as soon as I tell them to take the pressure off and just do their best, you can visibly see them relax and feel better about it. Because of that lessened pressure, they all perform and honestly they all have done great, because I am not judging based on “where they should be” but by their effort.

Once the fitness testing is complete, we talk about the healthy fitness zones and that someone came up with those numbers and that is where ultimately they may way to aim for, but that when we retest any improvement at all is something to be celebrated. This gives me a chance to jump into talking about goal setting. We talk about SMART goals and we relate them to PE, but we also relate them to life. I created a Fitnessgram Goal Setting Worksheet where they can see what tests were and were not in the healthy fitness zone, and then set goals for all 4 tests that we did (yes even if they were in the healthy fitness zone).

As the class works through their goal setting we make sure their goals are specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and timely. Sometimes this take a little work getting them to understand their goal and what they may need to add to have it be a SMART goal, but eventually they get it and now we have goals. After that, we talk about and write down HOW they are going to reach those goals. If they set a goal of going from 2 to 10 push ups they have to decide what they are going to do to reach that goal. We do this goal setting and make a plan for each test we perform.

After they do this, I create a huge spread sheet of their current scores and their goals. When we retest, I just want to see some improvement or that they have reached their goals.

With doing my fitness testing this way, I have 100% participation and no one hating the few days it takes to get through these tests, and I would say that is a win!

Feel free to check out my 2 page Fitnessgram Goal Setting Worksheet that I use in my classes on TPT! Click on the preview below.

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