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California Department of Education
Official Letter
California Department of Education
Official Letter
September 26, 2018

Dear County and District Superintendents and Charter School Administrators:

California Physical Fitness Test—Back to School Message

As you welcome students back to school, I encourage you to remind families and school staff about the importance of physical activity and to prepare for the California Physical Fitness Test (PFT). Annually, from February 1 through May 31, all local educational agencies (LEAs) are required to administer the PFT to all students in grades five, seven, and nine.

The primary goal of the PFT is to assist students in establishing lifetime habits of regular physical activity. Research has established that regular activity, combined with good nutrition, contributes to healthy outcomes by preventing obesity and reducing chronic health conditions, such as diabetes, coronary heart disease, and hypertension. Other appropriate uses of PFT results include providing information that can be used by:

(1) schools to evaluate their physical education (PE) programs; and (2) parents and guardians to understand their children’s fitness levels.

Preparing students for the PFT is important to their success in meeting fitness goals; however, the physical and emotional safety of students always should be paramount. Some important practices to consider when preparing students for the PFT include the following:

  • Explaining to students why they are taking the PFT
  • Instructing students as to how to properly perform the PFT and providing practice opportunities
  • Advising students on proper athletic attire and testing conditions
  • Creating an appropriate testing climate that is nonpunitive and judgement free
  • Providing instruction to staff on your LEA’s preferred method(s) of ensuring student privacy

LEAs should review their confidentiality practices to make sure that appropriate protocols are in place to ensure as much privacy as possible when administering the PFT (e.g., screens to avoid observation of measurements—especially body composition measurements) as well as safeguarding PFT results from students other than the one being tested. In addition, LEAs should develop a receptive process to ensure the safety and concerns of their students and students’ parents or guardians by being sensitive to such variables as preexisting special needs, body composition, and maturation stage of the students. As a reminder, students’ parents or guardians along with the individualized education program (IEP) or Section 504 plan teams are responsible for deciding how students with disabilities will participate in the fitness areas of the PFT.

Reporting Students Who Elect to Identify with a Gender of Nonbinary
The 2018–19 PFT administration incorporates the new gender code of nonbinary. Guidance will be available in an updated PFT Coordinator Manual and, once approved, will be posted on the California Department of Education (CDE) PFT Program Resources web page at  
PE Requirements and Exemptions

The PFT Office, which is within the CDE Assessment Development and Administration Division, is responsible for the administration of the PFT and the collection of PFT data for students in grades five, seven, and nine. Questions and information requests regarding PE high school graduation requirements should be directed to Peter Callas, Administrator, CDE Career and College Transition Division, by phone at 916-319-0669 or by email at Information regarding PFT exemptions can be found on the CDE Educator Excellence and Equity Division web page at If you have any questions regarding PFT, please contact the CDE High School Equivalency and Outreach Office by phone at 916-445-9449 or by email at



Keric Ashley, Deputy Superintendent
Performance, Planning, and Technology Branch


Last Reviewed: Friday, March 29, 2019

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