Gov. Gavin Newsom wants to pause physical education tests for students for three years due to concerns over bullying and the test discriminating against disabled and non-binary students. The move also comes after annual test results show a growing percentage of students scoring not healthy.
H.D. Palmer, spokesman for the Department of Finance, said the state has received complaints that the current examination’s measurement of body mass index is discriminatory to non-binary students. A measurement calculated from weight and height, BMI screenings require students to select “male” or “female,” he said.
Annual state reports of the fitness test since the 2014-2015 school year show a steady decline in the share of students scoring healthy, according to a review by The Associated Press. Students’ scores have particularly dropped in the category of the fitness test that measures “aerobic capacity” — which can be tested in a one-mile run or by other methods. Other categories also test for flexibility and exercises like push-ups.
In the last five years, the percentage of fifth graders scoring healthy in the aerobic category has dropped by 3.3 percentage points. In seventh and ninth grades, the drops are 4.4 percentage points and 3.8 percentage points, respectively. Meanwhile, the percentage of students identified as “needing improvement” and having a “health risk” went up: by 3.3 percentage points among fifth graders, 4.4 for seventh graders and 3.8 among ninth graders.
The Department of Education did not immediately comment on those results.