By Michelle Rodriguez

The Cove Herald

In 2007, child and adolescent statistics showed 32 percent of Texas high school students were overweight or obese.

And, from 2004 to 2005, childhood obesity was determined greater with fourth-grade children at 42 percent, according to the Texas Department of State Health Services. Students from grades three to 12 have been required to take a fitness assessment in compliance with Senate Bill 530. Throughout the year, Copperas Cove Independent School District has been administering student health assessments using the FITNESSGRAM program to determine individual health statuses.

According to the Texas Education Agency, FITNESSGRAM, developed in 1982 by the Cooper Institute, was selected as an assessment tool to be used by school districts throughout Texas.

The FITNESSGRAM is a health-related physical tool used to evaluate specific aspects of student's health fitness. According to the Cooper Institute, the assessment is not based on skill or agility. Students are compared to health fitness standards called the Healthy Fitness Zones based on age and gender, rather than compared to other


Gail Milligan, assistant superintendent of curriculum and student services, said Cove ISD has been administering the fitness assessment throughout the year in an effort to submit student scores to the Texas Education Agency by June.

"Several tests include body mass index for body composition, aerobic capacity, endurance and flexibility," Milligan said.

She said the assessment is not always completed through the physical education (P.E.) class. Not all students at the high school level take P.E. and have to schedule a time with the systems athletic director to have it completed.

Systems Athletic Director Sue Wagner said health and P.E. teachers at Copperas Cove High School have already administered the assessment to the seniors and will assess the rest of the school next week.

Wagner said this is the second year CCISD has used the FITNESSGRAM assessment, and students this year know what they are going to take.

"Overall, the students in CCISD did better than the state average at all levels," Wagner said.

This is not a graded test, said Milligan. Scores will be available to parents who wish to file a written request. TEA will release a report to the school district later in the year.

Beginning this year, districts will have the ability to compare the 2009-10 individual student results with succeeding years, enabling districts to assist students in becoming more physically fit, said Cove ISD Deputy Superintendent Bobby Ott.

"It is our hope that students are physically fit and that the FITNESSGRAM assessment results will add verification," Ott said.

Milligan said she strongly supports the assessment and this program is the first of it's kind.

"If you study the research, the healthier the child, the better they are academically," Milligan said.

Contact Michelle Rodriguez at or (254) 501-7475.

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