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FITNESSGRAM expands reach in Nebraska

Several Nebraska school districts received their moment in the spotlight thanks to a series of articles in the Omaha World-Herald by staff writer Joe Dejka.


An article headlined, "Fitness model muscled aside" outlines the differences between FITNESSGRAM and the Presidential Physical Fitness Test. Eighteen Nebraska school districts, including the five largest, all use FITNESSGRAM software, which is edging out the Presidential Physical Fitness Test. The article goes on to very effectively explain the differences between the Presidential Physical Fitness Test and FITNESSGRAM:

"Schools increasingly are replacing it with the FITNESSGRAM, tests that measure individual progress toward health goals rather than how a child ranks against his peers nationally. It also gives kids a range of fitness targets to hit.

To qualify for the Presidential Fitness Award, for example, a 10-year-old boy needs to do 22 push-ups. To hit his “healthy fitness zone” under the FITNESSGRAM program, he has to do between 7 and 20 push-ups."

FITNESSGRAM uses criterion-referenced standards, called the Healthy Fitness Zone standards, which are regularly evaluated by a team of scientists and practitioners called the FITNESSGRAM Scientific Advisory Board. These standards represent the minimum amount of fitness required for good health. You can read the rest of the article at the Omaha-World Herald Web site.


The second article highlights Nate McCabe’s PE program at La Vista West Elementary School in La Vista, Nebraska. The headline, "Helping youths reach a level healthy for them," is really what FITNESSGRAM is all about.


McCabe effectively sums up a personal experience that underlines the need for quality physical education programs. The Presidents Challenge test includes a mile-run as one of the test items, but the Fitnessgram test offers the PACER test which evaluates cardiovascular fitness. In the PACER test, kids run back and forth over a 20-meter stretch. They have run each 20-meter lap before the beep sounds on a pre-recorded cadence CD.

"McCabe said that with the traditional mile run, athletic students finished first and stood around watching as the out-of-shape kids trickled in. During his first year teaching at La Vista West, that experience “crushed a girl.”

PACER turns that situation on its head, he said. The slower kids drop out as they reach their limits while the high achievers keep going, the center of attention.

McCabe likes that kids are striving for what’s scientifically healthy for them and are not locked in competition.

“There’s a place for that competition,” he said, “and PE’s not it.”


Read more of this article at the Omaha World-Herald Web site.


To learn more about FITNESSGRAM, and join the over 35,000 schools, districts, and even states that are using FITNESSGRAM, visit

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