Hamilton Giebert, Megan Corinne (2016-11). Trends in Texas Youth Fitness Testing: A Longitudinal Look at Statewide Reporting. Doctoral Dissertation.
Since 2007, Texas has mandated physical fitness assessment and reporting requirements for students in public school districts. Results from these yearly assessments are summarized in aggregate form as publicly accessible data, available for monitoring, analysis, and evaluation. The purpose of this research was to examine longitudinal trends in reporting to inform on the reach, impact, and value of routine statewide fitness data collection. This research manifested itself in two broad studies, each encompassing data from students in Grades 4, 6, 7, and 9. The first study used seven years of data to examine reporting frequency over time and to identify predictors of school district reporting compliance. Reporting rates among districts were high each year, but several district characteristics strongly correlated with exemplary reporting frequency. The strongest predictors of reporting frequency were: teacher turnover rate, fitness performance, economic status, and among older grades, attendance rate. The second study used three years of data to measure the longitudinal relationship of achievement rates on two common fitness tests, which were proxies for aerobic capacity and body composition, among various student subgroups. Some correlation between these achievement rates was expected, but a very high correlation was detected among Grade 6 girls and persisted over the time period. Measuring how the correlations endure over time offers valuable insight about the unique contributions that each test can offer to students, highlighting how the mathematical calculations of the tests can impact the students attempting them. Together, the findings from these studies have implications for students who are required to take annual fitness tests; for parents who help interpret students' performance; for teachers who train to administer tests and report the results; and for researchers who develop and evaluate tests. Although considered beneficial and informative, statewide fitness testing is a large endeavor that relies on comprehensive student participation and dedicated adherence from school and district staff. These results can help health professionals determine how to optimize statewide fitness testing and use it to further a culture of school-based physical activity and health.