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General Procedures for Testing and Evaluating Physical Fitness

This is an excerpt from Brockport Physical Fitness Test Manual 2nd Edition With Web Resource by Joseph Winnick & Francis Short.

The most common way of using the BPFT is for testers to adopt the parameters recommended for use with youngsters who have specific disabilities. Though such an approach may not follow the practice of personalization in the strictest sense, it offers a number of advantages. First, because the parameters were developed with specific target populations in mind, they are likely to be relevant for a young person in a particular group. Second, each test item included in the battery is considered a valid and reliable health-related measure for members of the target population. Third, standards and fitness zones are recommended partly on the basis of field testing of subjects from the various target populations. Finally, adopting recommended parameters saves the tester time in personalizing the test.

 

Testers who choose to use the BPFT in this fashion follow a four-step process when administering the test:

  1. Accurately classify or subclassify each young person.
  2. Select appropriate test items.
  3. Administer the chosen test items to measure physical fitness status.
  4. Evaluate health-related physical fitness against recommended standards.

The tester's first responsibility is to accurately classify the young person to be tested according to the relevant disability (e.g., spinal cord injury, blindness). For youngsters with physical disability, the tester must also subclassify them according to the nature and extent of their disability. In order to complete this task, testers will probably need to consult the Target Populations section in chapter 1.

 

Once the young person is classified (and, as necessary, subclassified), the tester undertakes the second major step of the process - using the test-item selection guides (see the relevant tables in chapter 4) to choose test items. When selecting test items in this manner, the tester is implicitly adopting the desired profile written for a specific disability group, because the items were derived from the profile statements.

 

Some test items are recommended, whereas others are optional. A recommended test item relates to a particular component of physical fitness and a specific profile statement and is generally believed to be the best test of those parameters for a particular class of youngsters. Thus a recommended item is considered the first choice - but not necessarily the only choice - in test selection. Optional items also address specific components and profile statements, and they provide additional choices for testers. A tester might select an optional item over a recommended item for any number of reasons, such as equipment availability, facility requirements, the young person's individual characteristics, and the specific purpose for testing.

 

Regardless of whether a tester chooses recommended or optional items, the test battery ordinarily consists of four to six test items: one for aerobic functioning, one for body composition, and two to four for musculoskeletal functioning. Table 3.1 summarizes recommended and optional test items, as well as available standards, for each target population.


The tester's third responsibility is to measure the individual's physical fitness status by administering the chosen test items appropriately. This process is addressed in detail in chapter 5, which provides recommendations for test administration, including necessary equipment, scoring, trials, test modifications, and safety guidelines and precautions. After administering the chosen test items, the tester records the results; experienced testers may develop recording systems that work best for them.

 

The tester's final responsibility is to evaluate the health-related physical fitness level of each young person. Individuals are evaluated by comparing their results on recommended or optional test items with criterion-referenced standards and fitness zones appropriate for them. The standards themselves appear in Fitness Zone tables 3 through 12 in chapter 4.

 

Both general and specific standards may be available to testers evaluating the physical fitness of youngsters with specific disabilities. General standards are available for almost all test items and are recommended when expectations for performance are typical of those for the general population - that is, when it is believed that a disability does not result in a unique physical fitness need and does not significantly alter performance expectations for the young person. Specific standards are available only for selected items where it is believed that a particular disability dictates an adjustment of general standards for a particular test (or when the test item is unique to a particular disability).

 

Testers should not assume that general standards are unattainable by a young person in a specific disability category. In fact, testers are encouraged to pursue general standards, even if specific standards are available, when the general standards are believed to be most appropriate or attainable by a particular young person.

 

Evaluating health-related fitness involves interpreting results and identifying unique needs, if any. Identified needs may be incorporated into a young person's individualized education program (IEP). For example, figure 3.1 presents a physical fitness profile sheet that might be developed for a young person, and figure 3.2 presents a sample summary of physical fitness data and a profile for a 14-year-old with an intellectual disability. Testers should compare past and current test results to track changes over time. Chapter 2 should be consulted for an explanation of standards and fitness zones.


Sample physical fitness profile sheet.

From J. Winnick and F. Short, 2014, Brockport physical fitness test manual: A health-related assessment for youngsters with disabilities (Champaign, IL: Human Kinetics).

Learn more about Brockport Physical Fitness Test Manual, Second Edition.