ECMPS assessing physical fitness

Published 4:45 am Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Coach Barry Larkin oversees physical education classes at ECMPS in preparation for the physical fitness test.

Escambia County Middle School students are testing their fitness in a variety of activities — from pushups to curl-ups — to see if they measure up to the new Alabama Physical Fitness Assessment.

Coaches Vangela Franklin, Barry Larkin and Susan Fountain have been leading their physical education classes in the required exercises, which are broken down into four different categories: aerobic cardiovascular endurance, muscular strength and endurance, abdominal strength and endurance, and flexibility.

Students are expected to meet a certain standards for the exercises.

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“The amount is different for boys and girls,” Larkin said.

He cited the historical precedent for the test having different gender standards where boys as a whole have performed better in the push-ups exercises, while girls as a whole have performed better in flexibility exercises.

With the new test, instructions are given by an accompanying CD-ROM, which allows instructors more time to focus on helping their students improve.

Students at ECMPS have so far worked on the partial curl-up, 90 degree push-ups, the V sit and reach, and the PACER running test.

“You see some of them excel in certain areas,” coach Susan Fountain said. “I think a lot more kids have achieved success on the new test. This one makes it where it’s more achievable. It’s still kind of like the old test where you push yourself to reach certain levels. Nothing’s perfect. The old test wasn’t perfect and this one isn’t perfect. It’s just a little more achievable.”

The goal of the new Alabama Physical Fitness Assessment is to get more kids in shape because data collected by the CDC suggested Alabama youth are not doing a good job of staying in shape.

The test is somewhat time-consuming, too.

“In order to get all the kids tested, it takes a good three weeks,” Fountain said.

Fountain said she prefers the Alabama Physical Fitness Assessment over the old President’s Challenge.

“I personally like the new test better and the kids are real receptive to it,” Fountain said. “I like the new test. It kind of puts you in three categories: whether you need improvement, reach a certain level, or whether you reach a high fitness level.”

Students are given certificates in conjunction with the test. If they participate in all four categories, they are given the Principal’s Physical Fitness Award. The Superintendent’s Physical Fitness Award goes to students who test “healthy fitness” in the four categories. The Governor’s Physical Fitness Award is given only to those who achieve the high fitness marking on all four categories.