Assessment of Student Fitness & Physical Education Skills

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  • 0:00 Assessments
  • 0:48 Fitness Test
  • 3:52 New Challenges
  • 6:14 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: John Hamilton

John has tutored algebra and SAT Prep and has a B.A. degree with a major in psychology and a minor in mathematics from Christopher Newport University.

In this lesson, we review ways to assess student fitness & physical education skills. We discuss the President's Council on Physical Fitness and some of the programs, and we look at how the program and assessments have changed to keep up with modern technology.


On July 16th, 1955, then-President Dwight D. Eisenhower founded the President's Council on Youth Fitness. Studies show that American children were lagging behind European children in the area of physical fitness. These days, we have the SAT and other academic tests to assess a student's progress in his studies, but in what ways can we measure a student's fitness level and corresponding physical education skills? There is only one major national program in America for testing fitness, but thousands of local gym teachers may have their own smaller assessment programs. However, since they are too numerous to discuss here, this lesson will emphasize on the President's Council on Physical Fitness.

Fitness Test

Who remembers running for a lap-and-a-half to finish the 600-yard dash in school or struggling to do one pull-up? The original test that many of us remember consists of six grueling events, and, to receive the coveted patch, a student must score in the top 15% in all six events.

They are:

  • Pull-Up (boys) / Flexed Arm Hang (girls)
  • 50-Yard Dash
  • 600-Yard Dash
  • Shuttle Run
  • Standing Broad Jump
  • Sit-Ups

The 50-yard dash is a hard sprint for about half of the straightaway of a standard track. This is basically a test of pure speed and acceleration and only lasts for less than 10 seconds.

The 600-yard dash is a lap-and-a-half. This is a test of endurance because athletes begin to build up lactic acid in their bodies after approximately 36 seconds, which is about the halfway point of this race. There is a speed component to this race as well, since the athlete is running as hard as he can for the entire distance.

The shuttle run involves starting behind a line and running to another line where an object is picked up (some schools used erasers), after which the student runs back to the original line. There the student sets down the object and runs back to the second line. The student picks up a second object and runs back to the original line. This time the student does not bend down to place the second object but runs past the second line as fast as he or she can. The purpose of the test is to test acceleration and agility. The total time is recorded.

The standing broad jump differs from a long jump because there is no running approach. The athlete merely stands with feet roughly shoulder width apart and swings their arms and bends their knees. They then propel themselves forward several feet and land as far as possible from the starting jump point. The measurement is taken from the starting jump point to the back of the heels. This is a test of not only leg strength, but also of leg flexibility.

Pull-ups are a different exercise in which the student hangs from a bar with the palms facing forward (if the palms are reversed it is called a chin-up.) The athlete must then lift their own body weight and pull themselves up so that their chin reaches over the bar. It is a very difficult exercise, and many students cannot do one pull-up. The flexed arm hang test for girls is different. They suspend from the bar and are timed as to how long they can remain in that position. The girls do not pull themselves up but remain with their heads and bodies below the bar. These are trying exams that showcase muscular strength and muscular endurance.

The sit-up test involves the standard military-style sit-ups, not the modern crunches that have become popular these days. The student sits on the floor with bent knees while another student holds onto her legs for stability. The athlete raises their body up to their knees and then lowers themselves back down again. The number of sit-ups in one minute is counted. This is mainly a test of muscle endurance, but muscle strength is involved as well.

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