Field evaluation of the new FITNESSGRAM® criterion-referenced standards

Am J Prev Med. 2011 Oct;41(4 Suppl 2):S131-42. doi: 10.1016/j.amepre.2011.07.011.


Background: The Cooper Institute established new criterion-referenced standards for the body composition and cardiovascular fitness standards for the FITNESSGRAM(®) program.

Purpose: The purpose of this study was to evaluate differences in the achievement of standards and classification agreement between the old and new standards.

Methods: Fitness data were collected during the 2009-2010 school year from 1686 youth (grades 3-12) from six schools (two districts) in a small Midwestern town. Data analyses were completed during the 2010 and 2011 school year. Descriptive statistics were computed to determine the percentage of students classified into the various fitness classifications using both the old and new standards. Classification agreement was examined for alternative tests of cardiovascular fitness (Progressive Aerobic Cardiovascular Endurance Run [PACER] and 1-mile run) and body composition (skinfold determination of body fat and BMI) using both the old and new standards.

Results: The descriptive results reveal important age and gender differences in reported levels of fitness levels in school-aged youth. For body composition, the percentage of youth achieving the healthy fitness zone (HFZ) was about 10% lower with the new standards than the old ones. For aerobic capacity, a larger percentage of young boys and a smaller percentage of older boys achieved the new HFZ for aerobic capacity. However, a smaller percentage of girls achieved the new HFZ at all ages. The use of test-equating in the revised standards led to significant improvements in the classification agreement between 1-mile run and the PACER.

Conclusions: The large data set provided a useful sample to examine the impact of the new fitness standards on the documentation of youth fitness levels in schools. The new standards address a number of measurement issues with the old standards and provide a more appropriate way to evaluate levels of health-related fitness in youth.

Publication types

  • Evaluation Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Age Factors
  • Body Composition
  • Body Mass Index
  • Body Weight
  • Cardiovascular System*
  • Child
  • Exercise Test / methods*
  • Female
  • Health Status
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Oxygen Consumption*
  • Physical Endurance
  • Physical Fitness*
  • Reference Standards
  • Running*
  • Schools
  • Sex Factors
  • Skinfold Thickness