Critical Evaluation of the Case for Pausing California's School-based Fitness Testing
Objective: We undertook a literature review to evaluate the evidence for an association among school-based fitness testing and bullying, weight-based teasing (WBT), and/or gender discrimination. Methods: We searched the peer-reviewed literature using PubMed, ERIC and GOOGLE Scholar to identify articles related to school-based physical fitness testing (K-12) on the one hand and bullying, WBT, and/or gender discrimination on the other. Results : We identified 12 studies on the impact of school-based physical fitness testing (PFT) on bullying and WBT. These studies do not support the assertion that PFT places students at elevated risk for bullying and/or WBT as compared to other school settings. There is a dearth of studies investigating an association between PFT and gender discrimination. Conclusions : The concerns about PFT as a widespread cause of bullying and WBT are not supported by the evidence. It is likely that school climate is a stronger determinant overall of these negative student interactions and that more rigorous teacher training would ameliorate student concerns about fitness testing. Nevertheless, more rigorous research is warranted to determine with confidence that PFT does not elevate students' risks for bullying and WBT and to examine the risks for students with non-binary gender.
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Document Type: Research Article
Publication date: March 1, 2021
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