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Communicating With Students

This is an excerpt from FitnessGram Administration Manual 5th Edition With Web Resource by The Cooper Institute.

It is extremely important that students understand why they are taking part in the FitnessGram assessment. This understanding entails teaching what the FitnessGram assessment measures and why it holds value. Knowledge of the benefits of fitness (or negative consequences of a lack of fitness) associated with particular aspects of fitness is just as important as the score received in the assessment. Educators can find excellent activities for helping children learn health-related fitness concepts in the Physical Best activity guides offered by SHAPE America (2011a, 2011b).

Students also need to be taught the proper protocols for each assessment. To account for the fact that students learn in many different ways, physical education teachers should do the following for each assessment item.

  1. Read through each protocol according to the manual.
  2. Show a proper live demonstration or show the video provided in the web resource.
  3. Have each student practice the protocol for each assessment prior to the day of the assessment.
  4. On test day prior to beginning the assessment, take time to review the protocol to ensure proper form and technique for each assessment.

During the assessment, students may become anxious for a variety of reasons. For instance, they may feel nervous because they are participating in an assessment or because other students are watching them perform. They may also feel stressed if they know that they are unable to meet the Healthy Fitness Zone or if they have had a negative experience with fitness testing. Physical education teachers must be mindful of such concerns when assessing each student; here are some guidelines.

  • Provide a safe location for students to perform the assessment.
  • Never have the whole class or even a few students watch one student perform the assessment unless the student volunteers to provide a demonstration.
  • Never post fitness scores for students to compare.
  • Never use a fitness score as a grade.

When students complete a fitness assessment in a particular component, they should be reminded of the meaning of the assessment score; that is, all students should be taught how their score relates to their fitness level. Fortunately, fitness education provides an opportunity for teachers to help students go beyond the score. Specifically, this is the critical time to set goals and use ActivityGram and ActivityLog to help students work toward their goals and keep accurate logs or journals of their fitness routines. After a period of time for training, students should then have the opportunity to perform the assessment again as a measure of improvement, and their goals should be revised as necessary on an ongoing basis. Upon graduation, students should have learned to assess their own fitness, analyze the data, develop fitness plans, and, ultimately, motivate themselves to remain physically active for a lifetime (SHAPE America 2014).

Fitness assessment can also provide creative opportunities outside of physical education. For example, students might write an article for the school newspaper promoting fitness or create a video to be aired during the morning announcements exploring the benefits of healthy eating. Of course, the ultimate objective of a physical education program is to teach students the physical and behavioral skills necessary to be physically active for life. Communicating this message in a wide variety of ways is the best way for students to develop the knowledge, skills, and dispositions for success.

According to a position statement issued by the National Association for Sport and Physical Education (NASPE, now part of SHAPE America), students should not be graded on the basis of their fitness level (SHAPE America 2009). Physical education teachers can, however, provide grades for students in many other areas related to fitness. Here are three options to consider:

  • Quizzing students (e.g., giving knowledge tests) about cognitive concepts associated with health-related fitness
  • Setting appropriate goals after reviewing the fitness score for each component of fitness
  • Having students keep an activity log for a set period of time (e.g., through ActivityLog)

Learn more about FitnessGram Administration Manual, Fifth Edition.

More Excerpts From FitnessGram Administration Manual 5th Edition With Web Resource