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Only 1 in 3 California students make the grade in physical-fitness test

March 24, 2011 | 12:49 pm

Only about one in three students has earned a "healthy" score on California's physical-fitness test, according to annual data released Thursday.

About 1.32 million students were evaluated in grades five, seven and nine, about 91% of enrollment in those grades.

The 2010 test scores show that 28.7% of the students in grade five, 34.6% in grade seven, and 38.5% in grade nine rated as "fit" in all six areas of the test

In the test, a ninth-grade boy, for example, would be evaluated on his ability to run a mile within nine minutes and perform a minimum of 16 push-ups and 24 curl-ups within a specified time.

Physical-education programs have taken a beating in recent years because of a greater emphasis on test scores and ongoing budget pressures. Many elementary schools have limited supervised exercise and sports activities.

And class sizes for physical education at secondary schools sometimes swell to 50 or 60 students.

The data show little change from previous years: About a half-percentage-point decrease in fifth grade and about the same level of increase in grades seven and nine.

Nearly two-thirds of students had adequate scores in the important category of aerobic capacity.

The issue is of particular concern to state Supt. of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson, a fitness buff and former high school track coach. On Thursday, he announced the launch of a public-awareness campaign.

-- Howard Blume