Types of Fitness Testing in Schools

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  • 0:04 What Is Fitness Testing?
  • 1:02 Feedback
  • 1:46 Fitness Testing as a Tool
  • 3:32 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Dana Dance-Schissel

Dana teaches social sciences at the college level and English and psychology at the high school level. She has master's degrees in applied, clinical and community psychology.

Schools use a variety of methods to test the fitness levels of students. This lesson will examine the benefits and drawbacks of fitness testing and will end with a short quiz to see what you have learned.

What Is Fitness Testing?

Think back on your experience with physical education while in school. What types of activities did you do? Were you given physical challenges such as running a certain distance or completing a specific number of pull-ups? Were your weight and height measured? If so, it's likely that you have participated in fitness testing.

Fitness testing measures the overall health and wellness of an individual. There are many different types of fitness tests. The earliest fitness tests were performance based. For example, students might have been asked to jump a certain distance. Those who were able to do so were considered more physically fit than those who could not.

Modern fitness testing is more focused on health. For example, students may be assessed in terms of vital signs (blood pressure), body composition (fat vs. muscle), and cardiovascular endurance (pulse). The idea behind health-focused fitness testing is that measurements like blood pressure and pulse rate can be important indicators of overall health and wellness, more so than how far someone can jump.


Fitness testing is not without controversy. It can impact self-esteem, create divisions among students, and even deter people from participating in physical activity. For example, the students who are deemed 'fit' may look forward to and enjoy participating in physical education, while those who are designated 'unfit' may feel embarrassed and dread it. Positive or negative feedback can impact overall health and wellness throughout that student's life because habits for physical activity are typically formed early on in development. In other words, the student who does not score well on fitness tests may be less likely to make physical activity a regular part of his or her life.

Let's take a closer look at the ways fitness testing can be used positively, to increase health and wellness among students.

Fitness Testing as a Tool

Maximum participation should be the goal with all physical fitness programs, and fitness testing can assist with creation of a successful program.

Maximum participation occurs when all participants are able to engage in physical activities. Programs should be structured around the varying levels of ability displayed by students, not only around those who are already performing at a high level of fitness. Therefore, fitness testing should be used to identify the levels of fitness among students. Using that information, a curriculum can be designed that encourages maximum participation for all students. When physical education is fun and accessible for everyone, students are more likely to want to do it.

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