Freshmen score low on fitness not so fit 

Ninth-graders in Union High School District shown to need additional physical education

SAN MATEO — Freshmen this spring in the San Mateo Union High School District scored worse than last year on a state-mandated physical fitness test, according to results to be reviewed tonight by the district Board of Trustees.

Students are assessed usingsix tests, which include a mile-long run to determine aerobic capacity, abdominal curl-ups, push-ups, the sit-and-reach flexibility test, a trunk lift and a body-mass index measurement.

The results show that while a majority of students met or exceeded each requirement — in numbers ranging between 69 and nearly 92 percent — there was a slight increase in students who needed improvement.

All of the tests, except for the BMI test, showed more students this year, as compared with last year, fell below expectations. The push-up test for endurance and strength saw the largest decline from last year, with 4.4 percent more students needing improvement.

"We’re pleased that people exceeded the expectations, but the goal is always to improve," Jeanie Kwong, district director of assessment and professional development, said.

To help improve next year’s scores, Kwong said the district is now implementing a pre-test — identical to the test administered in the spring — in the fall of each school year to determine where students fall below expectations and help them overcome their individual shortcomings before the real test comes around.

The results are tabulated in the spring by physical education teachers across the district, and are then submitted to the state for evaluation, Kwong said. These results were shared with district teachers in early September, but a budget crisis took up most of the time and discussion that month, postponing discussion on the fitness test results to tonight.

Representatives from the South San Francisco Unified and Jefferson Union High School districts both said their 2006 results have not been returned by the state yet, and that they expect word to come down around the holiday season.

Jefferson Union Deputy Superintendent Gary Johnson said fitness is a priority this year for the district, which is set to receive nearly $800,000 in state grant funding for physical fitness, art and music equipment this year.

About $350,000 of that funding will go toward Club Jeff, a fledgling after-school program at Jefferson High School to promote fitness, Johnson said.

"There is a new focus for P.E. programs," Johnson said. "It’s to show that (P.E.) is not just training grounds for athletic teams."

tramroop@examiner.com

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