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Physical Fitness Testing (PFT)

The physical fitness test (PFT) for students in California schools is the FITNESSGRAM®. The main goal of the test is to help students in starting life-long habits of regular physical activity.

Students in grades five, seven, and nine take the fitness test. The test has six parts that show a level of fitness that offer a degree of defense against diseases that come from inactivity. The test results can be used by students, teachers, and parents.

  • For more information about the PFT, contact your local school district.
  • The PFT - CalEdFacts page provides a more detailed overview of the test.
  • The links and information below were developed for educators and others who are directly involved with the PFT.

Physical Fitness Testing Information

Purpose and Content

The State Board of Education designated the FITNESSGRAM® as the Physical Fitness Test (PFT) for students in California public schools. The FITNESSGRAM® is a comprehensive, health-related physical fitness battery developed by The Cooper Institute. The primary goal of the FITNESSGRAM® is to assist students in establishing lifetime habits of regular physical activity.

Public school students in grades five, seven, and nine are required to take the PFT, whether or not they are enrolled in a physical education class or participate in a block schedule. These students include those enrolled in local educational agencies (LEAs) such as elementary, high, and unified school districts, county offices of education, and charter schools. LEAs must also test all students in alternate programs, including, but not limited to, continuation schools, independent study, community day schools, county community schools, and nonpublic schools. Students who are physically unable to take the entire test battery are to be given as much of the test as his or her condition will permit. (Education Code (EC) Section 60800 and the California Code of Regulations, Title 5, Section 1041).

The PFT provides information that can be used by (1) students to assess and plan personal fitness programs; (2) teachers to design the curriculum for physical education programs; and (3) parents and guardians to understand their children’s fitness levels. This program also provides results that are used to monitor changes in the physical fitness of California students. By law (EC Section 60800), all LEAs in California are required to administer the PFT annually to all students in grades five, seven, and nine.

The FITNESSGRAM®is composed of the following six fitness areas, with a number of test options provided for most areas:

  1. Aerobic Capacity
  • PACER (Progressive Aerobic Cardiovascular Endurance Run)
  • One-Mile Run
  • Walk Test (only for ages 13 or older)

  1. Abdominal Strength and Endurance
  • Curl-Up
  1. Upper Body Strength and Endurance
  • Push-Up
  • Modified Pull-Up
  • Flexed-Arm Hang
  1. Body Composition
  • Skinfold Measurements
  • Body Mass Index
  • Bioelectric Impedance Analyzer
  1. Trunk Extensor Strength and Flexibility
  • Trunk Lift
  1. Flexibility
  • Back-Saver Sit and Reach
  • Shoulder Stretch

The FITNESSGRAM® uses objective criteria to evaluate performance for each fitness area (e.g., body composition, abdominal strength, and endurance). The Cooper Institute established these criteria using current research and expert opinions. These criteria represent a level of fitness that offers some protection against the diseases associated with physical inactivity.

Background

The statewide physical fitness testing program was first authorized in 1976 and reestablished in 1995 as part of the California Assessment of Academic Achievement Act (Assembly Bill [AB] 265 which added EC Section 60800). In February 1996, the State Board of Education designated FITNESSGRAM® as the required physical fitness test that LEAs shall administer to California students in grades five, seven, and nine.

EC Section 60800 requires LEAs to administer the physical fitness test (i.e., FITNESSGRAM®):

  • LEAs shall administer the PFT annually during the months of February through May to all students in grades five, seven, and nine.
  • The California Department of Education (CDE) collects the physical fitness test results and provides aggregate results to LEAs and the public.
  • The CDE reports the aggregate results to the Governor of California and the California Legislature.
  • LEAs are to provide students with their individual results after completing the PFT either orally or in writing.
  • LEAs report the summary results of the PFT in their annual School Accountability Report Card (SARC).

Coordinators, Administrators, & Teachers

PFT Results
PFT results for 2013–14 and prior years.

  • DataQuest PFT Summary Results
  • San Joaquin County Office of Education PFT Results

PFT Testing Schedule
Testing window and data submission deadline dates.

Physical Education (PE) Exemptions
Information about exempting high school students from PE courses based on California Education Code (EC) Section 51241.

  • Memoranda
  • Frequently Asked Questions about PE Exemptions

Administrative Documents
Provides information about statutes pertaining to the PFT, standards used to score the PFT, and materials helpful to PFT coordinators.

  • California EC and California Code of Regulations, Title 5
  • Healthy Fitness Zones (HFZ) Charts
  • Assistance for PFT Coordinators
  • Matrix of Test Variations, Accommodations, and Modifications

Program Resources

Provides information for PFT coordinators and administrators.

  • PFT Assistance for Local Educational Agencies
    • PFT Coordinator Manual
    • PFT Reference Guide
    • PFT Program Notes
  • Understanding the 2014 PFT – Includes a variety of resources to communicate with different audiences.
    • Frequently Asked Questions and Answers
    • PowerPoint Presentation
    • Parent/Guardian Brochure
    • Sample Newsletter
  • CDE-sponsored PFT training, includes videos, handouts, and other resources
  • Report to the Governor and Legislature
  • References
    • 2004 Fitness and Academic Achievement Study
    • FITNESSGRAM® Reference Guide

Additional Resources
Additional resources for the PFT, including links to: The Cooper Institute, San Joaquin County Office of Education, and Human Kinetics.

  • The Cooper Institute provides background information on the FITNESSGRAM®.
  • San Joaquin County Office of Education: the state PFT contractor, collects PFT data from each school district.
  • Human Kinetics provides the FITNESSGRAM®/ACTIVITYGRAM® Test Administration Manual and other FITNESSGRAM®materials available for school districts to purchase.

Students & Parents

Physical Education (PE) Exemptions
Information about exempting high school students from PE courses based on California Education Code Section 51241.

  • Memoranda
  • Frequently Asked Questions about PE Exemptions

Understanding the 2014 PFT
Includes a variety of resources to communicate with different audiences.

  • Frequently Asked Questions and Answers
  • PowerPoint Presentation
  • Parent/Guardian Brochure
  • Sample Newsletter

FITNESSGRAM Fitness Areas, Test Options, and Equipment
An overview of the PFT.

Researchers

DataQuest PFT Summary Results
San Joaquin County Office of Education PFT Results
  • District Reports External link opens in new window or tab.
    PFT district coordinators can access downloadable district data files from the San Joaquin County Office of Education including individual student reports (ISRs). Please note that access to this site requires login and password information.
PFT: Prior Year Information

Prior year news releases and reports to the Governor and Legislature from 2003–2011.

2011
2010
  • 2010 News Release
    Released March 24, 2011 – Includes summary of state results and description of the PFT items.
2009
2008
2006
2005
2004
2003

Additional Resources
Additional resources for the PFT, including links to: The Cooper Institute, San Joaquin County Office of Education, and Human Kinetics.

  • The Cooper Institute provides background information on the FITNESSGRAM®.
  • San Joaquin County Office of Education: the state PFT contractor, collects PFT data from each school district.
  • Human Kinetics provides the FITNESSGRAM®/ACTIVITYGRAM® Test Administration Manual and other FITNESSGRAM®materials available for school districts to purchase.

Contact Information

California Department of Education
Assessment Development and Administration Division
1430 N Street, Suite 4409
Sacramento, CA 95814
Phone: 916-445-9449
E-mail: pft@cde.ca.gov

Questions:   High School and Physical Fitness Assessment Office | pft@cde.ca.gov | 916-445-9449
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