Swap out fitness testing in PE for physical activity tracking and planning using the 24 hour 'ideal day' model

Recently, the point or purpose of fitness testing in PE was debated in a social media platform that I' keep an eye on'. The value equation of fitness testing in elementary/primary school has come up in some international schools program reviews that I have been involved with. It is questionable whether children of this age ‘get fit’ through ‘exercise’. Harris & Cale (2006) suggested fitness testing children can be problematic on the following points:

 The appropriateness of some fitness tests for use with children is questionable as they were developed for use with elite, adult populations;

 A child’s metabolic, cardiopulmonary, thermoregulatory, and perceptual responses to exercise are different from those of adults;

 For reliability and validity administrative rigour (protocol adherence) is required and PE teachers’ often have limited direct experience or training of test administration;

 Reliability and validity is also problematic as many factors influence children’s performance on fitness tests and will be reflected in fitness test scores, for example,  the environment/test conditions (temperature, humidity, wind speed/direction); lifestyle (exercise/nutrition); test protocol/procedures; motivation, intellectual and mechanical skill at taking the test; heredity or genetic potential; and maturation; and

Harris & Cale (2007) and Rice (2007) warn that fitness testing may contribute to diminished student interest and participation in physical education. Fitness tests, however, appeal to students who do well in the tests (Harris & Cale, 2007; Garrett & Wrench, 2008).

More pertinent for children is the accumulation of physical activity for healthy growth and development. Physical activity accumulations can be measured through accelerometers, pedometers and/or heart rate monitors that students wear for a two week (for example) period. I believe it is more educationally relevant and defensible on growth and development understanding to replace fitness testing with daily movement logs. My colleague, Terry Magias, identified criterion-referenced pedometer step guidelines as a valid, reliable, unobtrusive, and cost- effective means by which PA can be objectively quantified in PE settings. Details of this work are available here where Terry outlines the application of pedometer step guidelines in PE settingsTo work alongside the student accumulation of physical activity tracking, I suggest the concept of the ideal day and students examine their use of time using the 24 hour 'ideal day' model.

The ideal day 24 hour day model (see https://csepguidelines.ca/)

Swap out fitness testing for physical activity tracking and planning. The 24 hour 'ideal day' model might also be used with class teachers to discuss how to make the school day more active (as it will be needed to get the 'step' section to several hours of the day), and why it is necessary to break up periods of sitting with physical activity ‘brain energisers’. It is very easy to integrate Maths with Physical Education using this education through movement and about movement, with students graphing their time accumulations in the four areas to see if they create the shape of a 4. With early years learners who are learning time and counting this could be colouring ten minute bars in each column. It could be copy and stick of emoji's to show what the student did in each category each day, and for how long: each emoji representing say ten minutes- easy to do in Word docs now the latest version comes with icons as well as images and pictures to use with Word. With primary aged children, it could be creating a bar graph each day and looking at the time accumulation as percentages. 


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