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Study finds that Texas teachers do a good job collecting fitness data

In May 2007 the Texas Senate passed a bill aimed at strengthening the physical education programs in Texas schools and combating childhood obesity. 

The legislation, S.B. 530, required school districts to annually assess the physical fitness of students enrolled in grades 3 through 12.

In 2008 several faculty received approximately $300,000 from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation to assess the reliability and validity of the data being collected in Texas schools. Their findings are presented in a supplement to the current issue of Research Quarterly for Exercise and Sport.

 Key points in the papers include:

  • Higher physical fitness test achievement is related to higher state academic test scores and higher attendance, fewer negative school incidents and overall school quality, as indicated by the state ranking system (exemplary, recognized, acceptable, or unacceptable);
  • Teachers work hard to conduct important and quality testing and do a good job of testing despite often challenging school settings;
  • Teachers share their positive and negative experiences and provide ways to improve testing in challenging school settings and for large-scale testing across a state;
  • Reliability and validity of large-scale testing is good; and suggestions for testing in challenging school settings and in large-scale testing for regional, state, and national settings are provided.

The supplement, “Texas Youth Fitness Study,” was co-edited by professors Scott Martin and James Morrow, both of the Department of Kinesiology, Health Promotion and Recreation. UNT faculty members were responsible for about half of the material in the supplement. Morrow says that “this series of papers is a must read for any individual, group or state considering large-scale fitness testing.”

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