WUFT News

New Report Cards Assess Polk County Students’ Health and Fitness

By on January 29th, 2014
 Students from Highland City Elementary School do push-ups before returning to another physical activity. Polk County public school students will receive report cards assessing their health and fitness this term.  Photo by Karen White.

Photo contributed by Karen White

Students from Highland City Elementary School do push-ups before returning to another physical activity. Polk County public school students will receive report cards assessing their health and fitness this term.

This term, students in Polk County public schools will be evaluated beyond the subjects of math, science and reading. Students will receive report cards assessing their health and fitness.

It’s the first time all 105 traditional public schools in the district distribute the Fitnessgram, a report that educates students and parents about the student’s physical health.

The nationally recognized report evaluates a student’s performance in activities, such as sit-ups and trunk lifts. The evaluation focuses on areas like muscle strength, endurance and flexibility to measure the students’ fitness, according to a release by the Cooper Institute.

Polk County, along with Miami-Dade, Pinellas and Seminole, is one of a few districts in Florida that requires the Fitnessgram.

In a 2014 summary of the results from all schools, Polk found that more than 50 percent of students were in the Healthy Fitness Zone, opposed to Needs Improvement classification, for every category. Categories include: aerobic capacity, muscle strength/endurance/flexibility and body composition.

The highest scores were in abdominal strength, where 74 percent of the district was in the Healthy Fitness Zone. However, body composition, the body’s proportion of fat and lean tissue, received the lowest scores, and 52 percent were in the Healthy Fitness Zone.

“When we give students the opportunity to experience real data, the learning connections are stronger and deeper,” said Kathleen Wright, Polk County physical education curriculum specialist.

The data also helps the teachers design classes that target those weak areas. The districtwide assessment will make physical education classes more relevant and rigorous for students, Wright said.

Educating students about fitness encourages them to participate more in physical activities. When students are more active, they feel better and become more productive, which could lead to a rise in academic achievement, Wright said.

“If you let them self-assess every once in a while so they can see their gains, that’s a huge motivator,” Wright said.

In a 2008 study of students from Pinellas County Schools, ages ranging from 5 to 18, researchers found that students who scored higher in the Healthy Fitness Zone also had higher FCAT scores.

Susan Searls, physical education teacher at Davenport School of the Arts, said her biggest challenge is teaching students that it’s not okay to be sedentary. The Fitnessgram is about showing them how their inactivity can affect their health.

“It’s amazing,” Searls said. “Kids can’t do a proper push-up; they can’t do a sit-up.”

In a 2014 summary of Pinellas County, the highest scores were in trunk extension, 68 percent of the district was in the Healthy Fitness Zone. The lowest scores were in aerobic capacity, 6 percent of students were in the Healthy Fitness Zone.

“Our first goal is kids being healthier and more active in school,” Wright said. “I think a positive consequence is that hopefully we’ll see a decline in our obesity rates.”

A 2012 report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that 14.7 percent of adolescents in Florida were overweight and 10.3 percent were obese.

Christopher Roberts, principal of Highland City Elementary School, said his biggest concern is whether parents will take the time to read and understand the Fitnessgram.

Searls believes that if parents are unhappy with their child’s health report, it might encourage them to get their kids active at home. After-school programs, like the Y and the Boys and Girls Club of America, may also be inspired to create more activities for students.

“Obviously we want the best for our district and our county, but it’s got to be a community-wide event, or we’re not going to be able to change things,” Searls said.


This entry was posted in Education and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.
 

More Stories in Education

GALLERY: UF Graduates Collect Photos in Ben Hill Griffin Stadium

UF graduates turn out for celebratory photos come rain or shine at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium on Thursday.


Florida Inches Closer to Other States in Tuition Charged Undocumented Students

Florida may soon offer undocumented students in-state tuition at public colleges and universities, joining the ranks of 20 other states with similar tuition equity laws and policies.


The Einstein School

Alachua County Superintendent Finalists To Answer Questions

Finalists for the Alachua County Schools superintendent position to meet with public in May.


Hernando County School Board meeting

Hernando Parents Fear Potential School Closures Despite Poor Facilities

Students would have to bus an extra 14 miles should Westside Elementary close.


Clay Hill Elementary is a part of the district-wide initiative to engage students with technology. Photo courtesy of jacksonville.com.

Clay County Improves Attendance, Discipline with Classroom Technology

Clay County School District recently implemented iPad technology into its curriculum as part of a district-wide initiative to improve attendance and behavior.


Thank you for your support

WUFT depends on the support of our community — people like you — to help us continue to provide quality programming to North Central Florida.
Become a Sustainer
I want to support FM 89.1/NPR
I want to support Florida's 5/PBS
Donate a Vehicle
Day Sponsorship Payments
Underwriting Payments