SACRAMENTO, CA -- Fifth-, seventh- and ninth-grade California public school students who took the 2008 California Physical Fitness Test showed a slight improvement in test scores from last year.

In the results released last month, 28.5 percent of fifth-graders, 32.9 percent of seventh-graders and 35.6 percent of ninth-graders achieved in what the state determines as the “healthy fitness zone” for all six areas of the test, including cardiovascular endurance, body fat percentage and strength and flexibility.

The results represent a 1.4 percentage point increase in fifth-graders, a 2.0 percentage point increase in seventh-graders and a 5.5 percentage point increase in ninth-graders compared to last year’s results.

“Students are moving in the right direction toward better fitness,” says Jack O’Connell, the California superintendent of public instruction. “But to get them to take giant leaps instead of baby steps will require additional encouragement from school administrators, teachers and parents.”

This year’s physical fitness test was administered to 1,371,411 California public school students, divided almost evenly with more than 450,000 students in each of the three grades.