In an attempt to help improve the overall fitness of all our students, PortageTownship Schools has adopted the use of the FITNESSGRAM.

The FITNESSGRAM physical fitness assessment is based not on athletic ability, but on good health. No matter what your children grow up to become, they will live happier, more productive lives if they are healthy--and physical fitness is vital to overall health. FITNESSGRAM provides accurate and reliable information about your child's level of physical fitness.

Physical activity and physical fitness are not the same thing. Participation in regular physical activity leads to improvements in physical fitness and provides many important health benefits. This is well documented, and has been neatly summarized in widely publicized documents such as the Surgeon General's Report called Physical Activity and Health (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 1996). To quote one point from the "General Conclusions" section of that report:

"Physical activity reduces the risk of premature mortality in general, and of coronary artery disease, hypertension, colon cancer, and diabetes mellitus in particular. Physical activity also improves mental health and is important for the health of muscles, bones, and joints."

Physical fitness (an outcome associated with participation in physical activity) also has been shown to be important for health and quality of life. Assessments of physical fitness provide an effective way to evaluate overall physical condition and potential risk for negative health outcomes. Physical fitness is also more easily assessed than physical activity since it doesn't vary on a day-to-day basis. It is important to note that physical fitness is also influenced by factors that are out of a person's control (for example, genetics). While not everyone can be an elite athlete, most people can achieve healthy levels of fitness by performing the recommended amounts of physical activity.

The FITNESSGRAM assessment and report are intended to provide teachers (and parents) with accurate information about children's physical fitness. A Position Statement developed by the FITNESSGRAM Advisory Board says that schools should not use FITNESSGRAM either to grade your child or to evaluate teachers. The inherent goal of the FITNESSGRAM program is to promote regular, enjoyable, physical activity for students so that they can reach and maintain a level of physical fitness that will contribute to good health and well-being. FITNESSGRAM helps teachers to determine student needs and guide students in planning personalized physical activity programs.

FITNESSGRAM also helps parents/guardians understand their child's needs so they can help the child develop and stick to a plan of regular physical activity--one that's focused on enjoyable activities the child can do throughout his or her life.

The acronym HELP is used to describe the philosophy of FITNESSGRAM and ACTIVITYGRAM:

Health and health related-fitness. The primary goal of both programs is to promote regular physical activity among all youth. Of particular importance is promoting activity patterns that lead to reduced health risk and improved health-related physical fitness.

Everyone. FITNESSGRAM and ACTIVITYGRAM are designed for all people regardless of physical ability. They are intended to help ALL youth find some form of activity that they can do for a lifetime. Too often activity programs are perceived to be only for those who are "good" rather than for all people.

Lifetime. FITNESSGRAM and ACTIVITYGRAM have as a goal helping young people to be active now, but a long term goal is to help them learn to do activities that they will continue to perform throughout their lives.

Personal. No two people are exactly the same. No two people enjoy the exact same activities. FITNESSGRAM and ACTIVITYGRAM are designed to personalize physical activity to meet personal or individual needs.

To keep a record of our students’ fitness levels, all students will have their aerobic endurance tested three times a year using the PACER test. Their gender, height, & weight will also be recorded at this time to determine their Body Mass Index (BMI). Students in Physical Education classes will be tested in the areas of muscular strength and flexibility. A FITNESSGRAM report will be sent home with each student to share with their parent/guardian.

FITNESSGRAM recognizes that physically fit and less-fit people come in all shapes and sizes. The beginning level of the FITNESSGRAM Healthy Fitness Zone for body composition is based on research that links these levels to an increased risk for cardiovascular disease. The FITNESSGRAM parent and student reports use carefully worded terminology to help parents and youth understand possible risks associated with higher levels of body fatness. Language that could be used to describe physical appearance is not used in the FITNESSGRAM reports.