Fitnessgram Character Education

A program toward a healthier child and student – supported by Hamilton Southeastern Schools

The Hamilton Southeastern School District is taking a progressive initiative in educating and training our student population in the necessary areas of health and fitness by implementing the FITNESSGRAM testing program. The FITNESSGRAM testing program is supported by solid physical education, health and wellness curriculum.

  • Physical Fitness is critical to your health physically, mentally, socially and emotionally.
  • Physical Fitness stimulates the brain’s memory and problem solving capacity.
  • Weight is a number on a scale that alone does not indicate any level of fitness.
  • Calorie consumption should reflect the need for existence, growth, and exercise.
  • All fitness plans need to include a balanced diet.


FITNESSGRAM is a physical fitness/body composition testing program that reports individual fitness levels. It is not based on athleticism, but on “good health”. FITNESSFRAM was designed by the Cooper Institute to help physical educators report fitness levels specifically to parents. FITNESSGRAM uses health-related criteria called Healthy Fitness Zones (HFZ) to determine students’ overall physical fitness levels and suggests areas for improvement when appropriate. Healthy Fitness Zones are not based on class averages; they are “criterion-referenced” standards that are based on how much fitness is needed for good health. Healthy Fitness Zones were established by the FITNESSGRAM Advisory Board which includes some of the foremost scientists and practitioners in fitness and physical activity. Students are tested in the areas of cardio-vascular fitness, muscular strength, muscular endurance, flexibility, and body composition (BMI and % body fat scores). Students are not graded by their fitness scores. Scores will place them either in the HFZ or Needs Improvement category.


Tens of thousands of schools nationwide already use the FITNESSGRAM assessment. These include individual school settings as well as large district implementations in cities like New York City, Baltimore County (MD) Public School District, and Miami-Dade County (FL) Public Schools – and even statewide implementation, as in Delaware, Texas, and California.

Why are physical activity and fitness tests important?

Physical activity and Physical fitness is not the same thing. Participation in regular physical activity leads to improvements in physical fitness and provides many important health benefits. “Physical activity reduces the risk of premature mortality in general, and of coronary artery disease, hypertension, colon cancer, and Type II diabetes mellitus. Physical activity also improves mental health (student academic success), emotional health (stress reduction and self confidence) and is important for the health of muscles, bones, and joints” – The Surgeon General’s Report

Physical fitness (an outcome associated with physical activity) also has been shown to be important for health and quality of life. Assessments of physical fitness provide an effective way to evaluate the overall physical condition and potential risk of negative health outcomes.

How will Fitnessgram scores be used and viewed?

FITNESSGRAM testing will take place a minimum of twice a school year and a maximum of four times a school year. Fitness testing will start in 4th grade and continue through the 8th grade. Test scores are confidential between student, teacher and parent unless the student or parent chooses to share results. A personal report will be sent home at the end of a testing period. Suggestions are given for any areas that are outside the Healthy Fitness Zone (HFZ). Body composition testing will take place in intermediate and junior high levels. Student height and weight are used to determine BMI and % Body Fat scores (bioelectrical impedance device). Sensitivity is given to weight scores and continual emphasis is placed on the fact that weight is just a number and alone is not indicative of positive or negative levels of fitness. Students are not at any time graded on FITNESSGRAM test scores. Test scores along with Health/Physical Education curriculum will be used to set goals and work toward changing behaviors that will lead to Healthy Fitness Zones.

Why is body composition testing important for students during the growing years?

Long term studies show a relationship between adult obesity and childhood obesity especially as children become adolescents. Together these studies indicate that excessive fat tissue in children and youth increase the likelihood of obesity-related adult diseases including coronary heart disease, hypertension, high cholesterol and type II diabetes. In general, children who score in the Needs Improvement range (taking into consideration % muscle weight vs. % fat weight) will be encouraged to work toward the HFZ by increasing activity levels and changing dietary habits. Special attention is also given to students that score in the Very Lean range.