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Fitness and Academic Achievement

243

130% to 185% above the poverty line. Forty-four percent did not participate in the free/reduced lunch program, and data could not be obtained for 14 participants.

Measures

Fitness Testing. The Fitnessgram was developed as a way to increase parental awareness of physical fitness assessments in children (Cooper Institute forAerobics Research, 1999). Endorsed by the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM, 2006), the Fitnessgram is a valid and reliable (Welk, Morrow, & Falls, 2002) bat- tery of assessments used to identify muscle fitness, aerobic capacity, and body composition. The fitness tests were completed during regularly scheduled physical education classes and administered by the researchers to ensure consistency in test administration. During the initial class, the participants were familiarized with each test through demonstration and were allowed to practice the testing protocols under conditions similar to testing. During the second class, the participants completed the Progressive Aerobic Cardiovascular Endurance Run (PACER) to assess aerobic capacity. The PACER is a 20-m shuttle run that progressively increases in difficulty. During the third class, the muscle fitness tests (push-ups and curl-ups to a specific cadence), and the back-saver sit and reach test (which measures hip flexor and hamstring flexibility) were completed. Body composition was also obtained through height and weight measures and converted to body mass index (BMI) for scoring. The tests were scored through the use of Fitnessgram software, which identified whether the scores fell within the “Healthy Fitness Zone,” based on criteria estab- lished by the Fitnessgram Scientific Advisory Committee. Participants received

objective feedback and positive printout of their testing results.

reinforcements

through

a

computer-generated

Academic

Achievement Testing.

Participants

completed

the

ISAT,

which

is

administrated annually to third- through eighth-grade students in Illinois public schools. These tests serve as public notification of student performance, they monitor individual student progress, and they are used for identification of school effectiveness. The ISAT tests were deemed valid and reliable through analysis of past ISAT tests and comparison to test questions from the Prairie StateAchievement Examination (PSAE) and Illinois Measure of Annual Growth in English (IMAGE). The third- and fifth-grade participants completed a battery of tests across a 5-day period, in 40-min intervals. Questions included both multiple choice and extended response items in mathematics and reading. Specifically, for mathematics, some questions required computations, whereas others required problem-solving strate- gies without computations. The reading questions measured comprehension based on the content of a passage. Vocabulary questions required identification of word

meaning and its association with other words. Each academic test a 200-point scale; therefore, analysis of composite ISAT scores participants was based upon a 400-point scale.

was

scored on

for

individual

Results

Descriptive statistics were calculated for each variable (Table 1). Dependent t tests were used to determine mean difference between study samples nested within the

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