PFT Frequently Asked Questions and AnswersOften-asked Physical Fitness Test questions and their answers.
The FITNESSGRAM and Healthy Fitness Zone (HFZ) are registered trademarks of The Cooper Institute.
Why does California have a Physical Fitness Test (PFT)?
By law (California Education Code [EC] Section 60800), all public local educational agencies (LEAs) in California are required to administer the PFT annually to all students in grades five, seven, and nine. The PFT provides information that can be used (1) by students to assess their levels of health-related fitness and plan personal fitness programs; (2) by teachers to design the curriculum for physical education programs; (3) by parents and guardians to understand their child’s fitness levels; and (4) by teachers, parents, and guardians to monitor changes in the student's fitness levels.
What is the PFT?
The California State Board of Education designated the FITNESSGRAM as the PFT for students in California public schools. The FITNESSGRAM is a comprehensive, health-related battery of physical fitness tests developed by The Cooper Institute. The primary goal of the FITNESSGRAM is to assist students in establishing lifelong habits of regular physical activity.
What fitness areas are tested? What test options are available for each fitness area?
The FITNESSGRAM is composed of the following five fitness areas, with multiple test options provided for most areas.
- 20-Meter PACER (Progressive Aerobic Cardiovascular Endurance Run)
- One-Mile Run
- One-Mile Walk
Abdominal Strength and Endurance
Trunk Extensor Strength and Flexibility
- Trunk Lift
Upper Body Strength and Endurance
- Modified Pull-Up
- Flexed-Arm Hang
- Back-Saver Sit and Reach
- Shoulder Stretch
What are the criteria for each fitness area?
The FITNESSGRAM uses objective criteria to evaluate performance in each fitness area (e.g., aerobic capacity, abdominal strength, and endurance). The Cooper Institute established these criteria using current research and expert opinion. These criteria represent a level of fitness that offers some protection against the diseases associated with physical inactivity. More information about the criteria and how they were established can be found in the FITNESSGRAM Reference Guide available on The Cooper Institute web page.
Whom should I contact with questions about PFT passwords or data submission?
If you have forgotten your PFT password, go to the District Portal box of the California PFT website and select the Forgot Your Password? link to request that your password be resent to the PFT coordinator.
For other questions about PFT passwords or the data submission process, contact PFT Help Desk of the state contractor, the San Joaquin County Office of Education.
Whom should I contact with questions about PFT test administration or policies?
For PFT administration or policy questions, contact the California Department of Education Physical Fitness Testing Office by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 916-445-2766.
We are a new LEA. How do we obtain a password to log on to the Secure District Portal?
A new LEA must submit a PFT Coordinator Designation form to obtain a password. A link to the current year form can be found on the California PFT website . Select this link, and then enter the county code, district code, and charter number for your LEA.
Next, select the Search button. On the screen that appears, review and complete the information required on the designation form. When you have finished, select the Save Changes button at the bottom of the page. A link to the information submitted on the form will then be emailed to the superintendent or charter school administrator for approval.
Once the superintendent or charter school administrator approves the coordinator designation information, your logon information, including a password, will be emailed to the superintendent or charter school administrator, the PFT coordinator, and the alternate PFT coordinator (if one has been identified on the form).
How can I retrieve my password to log on to the District Portal?
If you are missing your PFT password, go to the California PFT website . Select the Forgot Your Password? link in the District Portal box. Fill in the County Code, District Code, and Charter Number for your LEA. (School districts and county offices of education use four zeros [i.e., “0000”] for the Charter Number.) Next, select the link to request a password. The password and login information will be sent to the Superintendent or Charter School Administrator, PFT Coordinator, and Alternate PFT Coordinator listed on the designation form for your LEA.
Updating LEA Information
How can I find the County Code, District Code, and Charter Number needed to complete the coordinator designation form and log on to the District Portal?
If you forgot your County and District Code you can look up this information on the California Department of Education (CDE) School Directory web page. The four-digit Charter Number for an independent charter school can also be found on the CDE California School Directory web page or on the CDE Charter School Database. School districts and county offices of education use four zeros (i.e., “0000”) for the Charter Number.
Our school has had a name change. How do I get the name updated?
School name changes must be made in the CA School Directory. Work with the County/District/School (CDS) Coordinator at your site to get your school information updated in the California School Directory.
Our school district has two charter schools that should be listed under our LEA for California PFT administration. How do I get them added?
To add those charter schools, send an email to email@example.com. Include the school names, CDS code and district name in the email.
How do we update the contact information for our LEA and obtain logon information for the secure district portal if we have a change in superintendent or charter school administrator, PFT coordinator, or alternate PFT coordinator?
If you have a change in any of your coordinator designation form information, you must resubmit a new PFT Coordinator Designation form. Instructions for how to complete this form can be found in the Quick Reference Guide: How to Complete the Coordinator Designation Form (PDF) . Once the superintendent or charter school administrator approves the new coordinator designation information, the new logon information, including a password, will be emailed to the superintendent or charter school administrator, PFT coordinator, and alternate PFT coordinator (if one has been provided).
Our LEA has an interim superintendent or charter school administrator who is not indicated in the California School Directory. What do we need to do to submit our PFT Coordinator Designation form and ensure that the PFT password is not deactivated?
The superintendent or charter school administrator provided on the online PFT Coordinator Designation form must match the superintendent or charter school administrator for the LEA, as identified on the CDE’s California School Directory web page. If the information does not match, even for interim superintendents and charter school administrators, the password will be deactivated until the LEA updates this information in the California School Directory. Once the interim position is finalized, this information must be updated again in the California School Directory, and you will need to resubmit the online PFT Coordinator Designation form.
Do I need to designate a coordinator for a district that is for kindergarten through grade three only and does not participate in any PFT testing?
The PFT is for students in grades five, seven, and nine. Because your school does not serve students in these grades, you do not need to designate a PFT coordinator. You should send an email notification to that your LEA is a zero enrollment LEA.
A number of our schools did not receive an email to set up a PFT coordinator because the California School Directory is not updated. Is that something you can support us with or do I need to contact CDS?
Work with the CDS coordinator at your school to get your school information updated in the California School Directory, from which the PFT information is extracted.
Who takes the PFT?
All California 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 elementary school, high school, and unified school districts; county offices of education; and charter schools. Students in alternate programs, including, but not limited to, continuation schools, independent study, community day schools, and county community schools, also must take the PFT. Students who are physically unable to participate in the entire PFT should complete as many of the tests as possible.
When is the PFT given?
The designated testing window for administering the PFT to students in grades five, seven, and nine is February 1 through May 31 (California EC Section 60800). The test may not be administered outside of this window. (Note: The PFT window does not apply to students who may be given the FITNESSGRAM in grades ten or higher to determine exemption eligibility.) Local educational agencies seeking flexibility in the statutory time requirements due to block scheduling (e.g., 400 minutes of physical education every 10 school days) may be permitted to administer the PFT outside of this window after obtaining a waiver from the State Board of Education. Information on this waiver policy is available on the California Department of Education Waivers web page.
Who may administer the PFT?
The PFT shall be administered and scored by employees of the LEA (California Code of Regulations, Title 5, Section 1043). For purposes of the PFT, students may not administer the tests to each other, and parents or guardians may not administer or help with the administration of the PFT to students.
How can schools best prepare students for the PFT?
Students should be instructed in basic concepts of fitness development and maintenance in the required physical education program. (The required physical education program consists of 200 minutes every 10 school days for grades one through six, and 400 minutes every 10 school days for students in grades seven through twelve [EC sections 51210 and 51222].) Physical fitness instruction should include explanations of each fitness area and its relationship to good health as well as specific physical activities that improve or maintain each of the components of health-related fitness. Further, teachers should provide students with opportunities to participate in vigorous physical activity and exercise throughout the school day and in physical education classes. Because conditioning prior to testing is important to the safe administration of the PFT, adequate time should also be allowed for students to learn about how each fitness-area test is administered and to engage in practice sessions.
May students complete more than one test option per fitness area?
Multiple test options are provided for most fitness areas in order that all students, including those with disabilities, have the maximum opportunity to participate in the tests. The teacher or the student may select the test to be counted for each fitness area. Only one test per fitness area should be reported. It is not necessary for all students within a school or all schools within an LEA to select or use the same test option for a fitness area.
Must students finish the mile or just start the mile in order to be counted as having participated? Are there minimum requirements for each component of the test to count as participation.
What constitutes participation is a local decision.
Are makeup tests allowed for students who are absent on a particular day of testing?
Yes. Schools should provide makeup opportunities for students who are absent on testing days; however, all makeup testing must take place within the PFT administration window (California Code of Regulations, Title 5, Section 1043).
Are students who repeat a grade required to retake the PFT?
Yes. Students repeating grade five, seven, or nine, are required to retake the PFT.
May students be excused from the PFT?
The general opt-out provision of EC Section 60615 does not apply to the PFT. There are a limited number of allowable reasons for not participating in parts or all of the PFT (e.g., medical excuse, student with disabilities); therefore, most students may not be excused from the PFT.
May the PFT be administered virtually?
There are no provisions within the law, or the PFT Test Administration Manual, that allow LEAs to administer the PFT virtually. Therefore, it must be completed by the student in person.
What is done in the administration of the PFT to assist students with disabilities?Students with cognitive or physical disabilities are only required to participate in the PFT components they are able to perform. This may apply to some or all of the administration. Please consult with the students individualized education program (IEP) or 504 for their allowed modifications for PE and apply them to the PFT.
What is the process for making decisions about accommodations for students with disabilities?
The IEP or Section 504 plan team is responsible for deciding how students with disabilities will participate in the PFT. Students with disabilities should be given as much of the PFT as conditions permit, which means they may end up being partially tested.
Does a student need to disclose their gender to the test administrator?
For the purpose of the 2022–23 PFT administration, gender, height, weight, and age are not to be collected.
Is there a list of vendors that help collect California PFT data for submission?
The CDE is unable to make vendor recommendations.
Where should the LEAs send the data from the PFT administration?
The LEAs are required only to submit participation percentages for each component, by grade, to the School Accountability Report Card (SARC).
What is the timeline for submitting the PFT data?
Participation data must be submitted to the SARC by February 1 of the following year.
What PFT data is required for the 2022–23 SARC?
Participation data must be reported in the SARC. Participation rates are calculated for each fitness area and grade level. For each grade level and fitness area, the participation rate equals the number of students who participated in each of the fitness areas divided by the total number of students enrolled in each grade level at the time of testing.
How do I calculate the participation rate for each area?
Number of students who participated in the FITNESSGRAM component
Number of students enrolled in the grade level at the time of testing
multiplied by 100
Participation rate (percentage of students rounded to the nearest tenth)
What do I do with student scores for each area of the PFT?
Per EC 60800: Pupils shall be provided with their individual results after completing the physical performance testing. The test results may be provided orally or in writing. How the LEA manages or reports student scores to students and families is a local decision.
Is there the 95 percent participation rate requirement for the PFT?
Per EC 60800: The physical performance test designated by the state board shall be administered to each pupil in grades five, seven, and nine. Each pupil with a physical disability and each pupil who is physically unable to take all of the physical performance test shall be given as much of the test as his or her condition will permit.
Am I required to report for a nonpublic school (NPS)?
Pursuant to Chapter 914, Statutes of 2004 (Assembly Bill 1858), all nonpublic, nonsectarian schools are required to prepare a SARC in accordance with EC Section 33126. This requirement applies to nonpublic, nonsectarian schools but does not apply to nonpublic, nonsectarian agencies.
How can the PFT results be used?
The PFT results can be used in several ways. Schools can use them to determine the fitness levels of their students and to provide direction for curricular plans. Students can be encouraged to use the results to develop personal fitness programs of maintenance or improvement. Parents and guardians can use the results to help their child plan fitness activities matched to their individual needs. Because the PFT is administered annually, schools and LEAs can also use the results to monitor changes in the fitness status of students. PFT results should always be reviewed and used to make decisions in conjunction with other information related to physical performance and physical education curriculum.
What are inappropriate uses of the PFT participation test results?
The PFT participation results should not be used as the sole basis on which to evaluate individual students in physical education (e.g., grading), teacher effectiveness (e.g., teacher evaluations), or the overall quality of a physical education program.
Do the PFT participation results appear on student transcripts?
There is no requirement to include PFT participation results on student transcripts.
Is there a requirement to keep the PFT participation results in student permanent records?
No, LEAs are no longer required to keep student’s physical performance test scores in their cumulative record. Previous regulations were deleted in October 2022 to remove this mandate on the LEAs. (See California Code of Regulations, Title 5, Section 1044).
Do the requirements outlined in EC Section 51241(b)(1) still apply to students in high school?
An LEA may offer the EC 51241(b)(1) exemption if the LEA collects the data and completes the formulas necessary for the Body Composition and Aerobic Compacity components. These additional efforts are not required nor are they supported by the CDE during this PFT administration. The CDE encourages LEAs to use the remaining exemptions in EC sections 51241 and 51242 for students seeking to be exempted from high school physical education requirements. Remember, too, that students in 2018–19 and 2019–20 did not take the PFT because of the COVID suspension of the PFT and thus do not have access to the EC 51241(b)(1) exemption.
What is the CDE's recommendation to unified and high school districts on how they can best be compliant with this year's PFT testing and still meet the requirements outlined in EC Section 51241(b)(1)?
The CDE does not have a recommendation on how a LEA might best achieve compliance with EC 51241(b)(1). The CDE recommends that LEAs complete the PFT as prescribed and advise students that the exemptions in EC sections 51241 and 51242 are still available if a student wants to request an exemption from physical education.
Is there an awards program for the PFT?
No. California does not offer an awards program for the PFT.
When is the SARC due?
Because SARCs must be prepared and disseminated before the end of each school year in order to comply with the law, schools/LEAs must prepare and make available their new SARCs no later than February 1 of each year.
How do we submit PFT data to the SARC?
Work with the individual at your school/district who is responsible for submitting the SARC. For questions, contact the CDE SARC team by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 916-319-0406.
Do we report passing scores to the SARC?Participation rates are calculated for each fitness area and grade level. Refer to the CDE SARC web page for details on reporting PFT data in the SARC.
Whom may I contact to assist me with directions on how to send the PFT data to the SARC?
For questions about submitting the SARC, contact the CDE SARC team by email at email@example.com or by phone at 916-319-0406.
More information about the PFT and the FITNESSGRAM are available on the CDE-sponsored PFT Training website. Materials offered on that web page include training modules to assist PFT coordinators with submitting and correcting PFT data, and video clips that demonstrate how to administer FITNESSGRAM tests using California's testing protocol (i.e., an employee of the district administering and scoring the tests).