Beginning this year, West Virginia students will no longer be administered the Presidential Challenge. Instead, students in grades four through 12 will now take Fitnessgram, a criterion referenced assessment of physical ability. Students in K-three will not be assessed, but will learn skills to make them more physically fit.
Students from Parkersburg South High School (PSHS) and teachers from Marion and Tyler counties were on hand to demonstrate the physical assessment during the WVASA conference. PSHS was a pilot-school for the program this past school year.
“Physical activity education is our ultimate goal,” said Bane McCracken, physical education coordinator for the West Virginia Department of Education. “Fitnessgram allows students to improve their fitness through exercise during their middle school years and it allows teachers to spend more time teaching skills and less time testing.”
Fitnessgram offers a variety of ways to test children’s physical abilities. For example, teachers have the choice of a mile run, a mile walk or a pacer to measure a students aerobic capacity, whereas the President’s Challenge only offered a mile run.
West Virginia currently has 20 physical education teachers who are nationally certified Physical Best/Fitnessgram trainers. These 20 physical education teachers participated in a pilot program to compare the Presidential Challenge to Fitnessgram. All 20 teachers found Fitnessgram to be more reliable, easier to administer and less threatening to students.
For more information about Fitnessgram or physical education in West Virginia, contact Bane McCracken, WVDE physical education coordinator, at (304) 558-8830.