Sacramento, Ca — A California state law requires high school freshmen in many California districts to pass five of six fitness tests or face the possibility of extra years in physical education classes. The legislation, written by state Sen. Tom Torlakson and signed by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger in October 2007, went into effect this school year. Each year that students continue to fail two or more tests results in another year of physical education class.
The testing does not affect students' ability to graduate, Torlakson told the Sacramento Bee. Ninth-graders who pass five of six tests still must take another year of P.E., but in many districts, they will have a choice of which year they enroll. California school districts typically require two years of P.E. to graduate, the newspaper reported, but not all districts have to comply with the legislation because of differences in the way they exempt certain students from physical education.
The six areas of fitness that are tested are aerobic capacity, body fat measurements, abdominal strength and endurance, trunk strength and flexibility, upper body strength and endurance, and overall flexibility.
Phil Lawler, academy director for PE4life, an organization aimed at getting quality daily physical education in every school in the United States, applauds California's efforts but says the law has a drawback.
“It's absolutely wonderful they're holding the kids accountable,” Lawler says. “The downside is, fitness is not a destination. It's a journey. Why would you have kids get in shape to pass a test to get out of P.E.? We've got to teach kids to be self-directed learners to buy into fitness personally for themselves, not for a grade, not to get out of something.”