School PE Fitness Tests Could Be A ‘Waste Valuable Time’

School PE Fitness Tests Could Be A ‘Waste Valuable Time’

school pe

We’ve covered some ideas we have for learning outside, but who remembers taking part in school PE fitness tests? We all used to love them, right? No, you didn’t? Well, a new study has shown that fitness tests in PE could be a monumental waste of time. It says that “fitness testing during PE may be wasting valuable class time when used in isolation from the curriculum”.

Surprisingly, the study revealed that there was hardly any link between the tests and students’ emotions towards PE. The report said this was surprising given the highly polarised opinions on their effectiveness.

Kelly Simonton of Louisiana State University, who conducted the study, said:

Our results show that extreme views on this controversial subject may be unfounded. Fitness tests neither put students off PE nor encourage a positive outlook on participation. What’s more, school fitness tests are rarely used to educate students about fitness and they’re often implemented poorly. So we cannot help but think that class time would be better spent in equipping students with knowledge and skills that more closely support the PE curriculum.

When earlier studies have been conducted, intensely positive or negative effects have been found. These were based on how students and teachers remembered the tests. Previous studies also found that as students moved through secondary school their attitude towards PE declined. This was especially true among girls.

What The School PE Report Showed

school pe

The new research looked into how one fitness assessment – Fitnessgram – influenced the emotions of 273 middle school pupils towards PE. It focussed on enjoyment, anger and boredom towards the subject. The research shows that fitness tests explained only 12 per cent of variation in boys’ feelings towards PE. For girls the effect was just 4 per cent.

The report concluded that it would be better if fitness tests were used as part of the curriculum. It noted that teachers did not “use the tests as a means to develop students’ fitness education”. They also weren’t used to create plans to improve their individual fitness levels.

It’s important to note the limitations of the study. For example, the data was only collected at one point in time. This prevented the study from measuring any changes in pupils’ attitudes. The teachers involved did not follow their recommendations to integrate fitness tests into the curriculum. Test scores were not shared with parents or guardians. Pupils did not compare their results to previous tests in order to monitor their health and fitness.

The study, “Do fitness test performances predict students’ attitudes and emotions toward physical education?”, was led by scientists at Louisiana State University and Adelphi University.

What do you think of this new study? Do you think it holds true for the UK as much as it does for the States? How does your school use fitness tests in PE? Are they part of the curriculum or totally separate? Do your students love them or hate them? We’d love to hear from you in the comments!

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