Should Student Fitness Results Be Part of Grades in Physical Education?

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I think pre-assessments and post-assessments of fitness levels are a necessary part of a physical education class, but I do not totally agree with handing out grades for fitness results. Coming up with a valid system to grade the results is the biggest problem that I see. All students have different physical capabilities, and not all students get the same results from doing the same activities. It seems unfair to me for the hard-working student that sees little results from pre- to post-test to get a lower grade than the student with more natural ability who does not have to work half as hard to see results. If fitness results are a requirement in the grading of a student, I believe that it should make up a small part of the grade. More emphasis should be put on participation, effort, behavior, and attitude.

--Jerod Smith, senior, Northwest Missouri State University, Maryville, MO.

Yes. Most schools espouse outcomes of enhanced fitness as part of the physical education program. The national standards and most state standards also include fitness enhancement as a goal. Therefore, student fitness achievement results should be part of grades in physical education.

The critical issues are what determines achievement in fitness and how much of the grade should be based on fitness. Including fitness as part of the grade does not mean that students must meet unreasonable fitness standards--running the mile in six minutes flat to get an A does not cut it anymore! However, teachers should be able to establish minimal standards of fitness. They should also assist students in reaching these standards, while encouraging others to reach goals that go well beyond the minimum.

Many teachers are quick to grade on "behavior," which has little to do with the objectives of physical education. Yet, something as crucial as fitness does not receive much attention when communicating student achievement to students and parents; that is the purpose of grades--to communicate achievement in school. Grading in physical education should include all of what is taught in class--skill, knowledge, and fitness.

--Dennis Docheff, professor, Department of Health and Human Performance, Central Missouri State University, Warrensburg, MO.

I do not believe that students should be graded on their fitness results. Some children may have very good hand-eye coordination, while others develop this skill later. Some children may have natural athletic abilities, whereas others may practice and practice but never make the varsity team. Some children are in excellent physical shape, allowing them to run a mile without stopping; others may be overweight and lucky to run a quarter of a mile. My philosophy regarding physical fitness is "everyone plays, everyone wins." Give the students a realistic goal based on their abilities and have them strive to accomplish it. Encourage them to reach the goal. When they do, or even if they do not, let them know that it is great that they participated and put forth the effort. This makes them winners, no matter whether they actually win the prize or not. But do not penalize a child for not being as physically fit as another--it may discourage the student from ever trying again.

--Kelly Long, student, Indiana University--Purdue University Indianapolis, Indianapolis, IN.

Physical fitness results should definitely be part of the grading process in physical education. The assessments not only reflect current fitness levels, but also provide indicators for improvement throughout the year. Fitness assessments must have standards that are age-appropriate for cardiovascular endurance, flexibility, muscular strength, and muscular endurance. These standards must be scientifically based for accuracy and reflect student achievement in relation to others who are the same age and gender.

Students will be motivated if their fitness scores are counted toward their grade, and parents will get an accurate assessment of whether or not their child has a healthy level of physical fitness. …