The New Jersey Association of Health Physical Education and Dance (NJAHPERD) and Every Child Stronger promote the use of Fitnessgram in our schools for the following reasons:
1. In comparison to most other physical education fitness testing concepts, Fitnessgram is a developmental tool. Sure, any physical assessment is an improvement over none at all. But in administering sporadic tests that are poorly integrated with the rest of the curriculum, educational opportunities are missed. With Fitnessgram, as the educator gauges the fitness of her students, the students are simultaneously learning the principles of physical conditioning. Rather than a “one-and-done” test conducted to fulfill an administrative requirement, students participating in Fitnessgram are exposed to a potentially life altering lesson: the sense self-improvement one gains through regular physical exercise.
2. Fitnessgram is also distinct in that it does not pit students against one another competitively. If physical educators are to take the “point position” in the battle against childhood obesity, stigmatization of the less athletically inclined must be eliminated. Inherent in Fitnessgram’s design is the value that the most important race is with the one against one’s self.
3. Assessment and data collection are fundamental parts of the core curriculum. Physical educators who can provide evidence of quantitative improvement to their administrators and school boards will be better positioned to weather budgetary storms. In addition, at the wider state-level — every step toward a statewide data-collection system is a step toward positioning physical education as a serious disipline, providing lifelong value to the student.