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

Students at Norton Elementary School wait in line as they're served dinner for the first time at school. Norton Elementary now serves breakfast, lunch and dinner.

Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner; Norton Elementary Serves It All

In addition to breakfast and lunch, Norton Elementary School now serves dinner to students enrolled in its after-school program. Dinner is currently scheduled to be served at 2 p.m.


Yes For Marion County Schools table at the Journey Into Reading event at Central Florida State College. The theme of the event was "seasons" and we were designated as "winter."

Amendment 4 Could Bring Back Marion County Teachers And School Programs

On Election Day, Marion County voters will vote on Amendment 4, which calls for the millage rate to increase. The extra money will go toward school programs and teacher salaries, potentially bringing back laid-off, first-year teachers.


Screen Shot 2014-11-03 at 1.22.22 PM

New FCAT Replacement Test To Be Computer-Based

The new test set to replace the FCAT this March will be computer-based. Some educators are worried the test may be a disadvantage for students who are not used to working on a computer on a daily basis.


Dunnellon Elementary School's Maria Gonzalez helps her fourth grade students with classwork. She received the Excellence in Education Award earlier this month from Lt. Gov. Carlos Lopez-Cantera as part of Hispanic Heritage Month.

Local Hispanic Teachers Receive Excellence In Education Award

Maria Gonzalez of Dunnellon Elementary School and Grisell Santiago of P.K. Yonge Developmental Research School received the Excellence in Education Award earlier this month. The annual award was sponsored by Volunteer Florida, the Florida Department of Education and the Executive Office of the Governor as a part of Hispanic Heritage Month.


Students from Idylwild Elementary School launch a water rocket at Flavet Field. Fourth and fifth grade students from Idylwild Elementary School visited the University of Florida on Oct. 30 to learn about engineering and other STEM-related studies.

The University of Florida College of Engineering Reaches Out to Elementary Students

University of Florida engineering students hosted a day of science activities on campus for fourth- and fifth-grade students from Idylwild Elementary School on October 30.


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