Presentation at the 2014 Active Living Research Annual Conference.
Background and Purpose
In 2011, the Kansas Department of Health and Environment (KDHE) and the Kansas State Department of Education (KSDE), with funding from the Kansas Health Foundation, began a statewide initiative to track and improve fitness in Kansas schools. Two main projects were implemented across the state: (1) the Kansas Fitness Information Tracking (K-FIT) system that links fitness measures and academic performance of students in grades 4-12 and (2) Let’s Move in Kansas Schools (LMIKS) that trains physical educators on the Comprehensive School Physical Activity Program (CSPAP). The initial step of K-FIT was configuring the new online version of FitnessGram® (FG) to work with KSDE’s Kansas Individual Data on Students system to allow individual student fitness data to be linked to individual academic indicators. FG is a computer program that records and tracks student fitness test results. Teachers are trained on FG and specific testing protocols to ensure reliability. The tests measure aerobic capacity, body composition, muscular strength, muscular endurance and flexibility. LMIKS involved training Kansas physical educators on the Let’s Move in School (LMIS) program developed by the National Association for Sport and Physical Education. This initiative is based on research that links increased student fitness levels and opportunities for physical activity with greater academic success and improved health.
Kansas was one of the first states to develop a system to link student fitness data with academic indicators at the state level and to offer large-scale trainings on the CSPAP model. Kansas has worked to create a culture of physical activity inside and outside of PE classes. The CSPAP evidence-based model takes a whole school approach and emphasizes five components: physical education, physical activity during school, physical activity before and after school, family and community involvement, and staff involvement. Trainings directed toward physical education teachers both on FG and CSPAP are designed to provide teachers the tools to work with and train school staff on incorporating physical activity throughout the day while tracking and improving student fitness during PE. Teachers can assist students in setting goals for improvement. This approach emphasizes a multi-faceted view of fitness, expanding beyond a reliance on BMI. To date, 18 Kansas physical educators have become national trainers on LMIS and more than 200 Kansas physical education teachers have been trained on the CSPAP model. These educators represent more than 70 school districts, 165 K-12 schools, 10 universities and 40 counties. Through K-FIT, more than 1,000 physical educators from more than 600 schools have been trained on FG. During the 2011-12 school year, fitness data that met the inclusion criteria for analysis was entered on nearly 13,500 students. For the 2012-13 school year, more than twice as many schools entered student fitness data. Correlations between academic performance, fitness and demographics will be presented.
State Health and Education agencies should factor in sufficient time to develop data sharing agreements to ensure the highest degree of confidentiality and student data protection. Technical difficulties, teacher turnover and providing training for remote portions of the state are ongoing challenges. The development of Kansas-specific LMIS trainers made it possible to provide training to a large number of physical educators across the state. New LMIKS trainees feel a connection with and trust of the trainers since a majority of them are practicing physical education teachers. Responses from the post-training evaluations and interviews indicate a high level of satisfaction. These results will be presented.
Conclusions and Implications
The state-level implementation of K-FIT and LMIKS was effective in creating a foundation of qualified, trained physical educators and establishing a baseline of data. The ability to track fitness data at the state and local level will ensure that the progress toward increasing physical activity of students is sustained and will enable evaluation of changes in policies and practices within schools, school districts and statewide. By incorporating components of CSPAP around the school day, students are given opportunities to be more active and classroom teachers and school administrators better understand the link between fitness and academic success.
In November 2013, LMIKS trainers will have the opportunity to train on the revised Let’s Move! Active Schools curriculum. This revised curriculum will expand the target audience to include building-level administrators (i.e. principals), classroom teachers and other school staff to address the main barriers identified, namely lack of buy-in and limited time. Additionally, a renewed focus and emphasis will be placed on working with university faculty to incorporate the CSPAP model and K-FIT training into pre-service teacher preparation curricula. This will enable new physical education teachers to implement K-FIT and CSPAP concepts when they first enter schools. Kansas received enhanced funding from CDC that will enable the state to provide grants to schools to focus on expansion of school policies and practices to ensure students have many opportunities for quality physical activity before, during and after school.
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Chaddock, L., et al. A functional MRI investigation of the association between childhood aerobic fitness and neurocognitive control. Biological Psychology. 2012; 89: 260-268.
Bass, R. et al. Physical Fitness and academic performance in middle school students. Acta Paediatrica. 2013; 102: 832-837.
IOM Report. Educating the Student Body: Taking Physical Activity and Physical Education to School. May 2013.
Support / Funding Source
These projects were funded by the Kansas Health Foundation and coordinated through the Healthy Kansas Schools program. Healthy Kansas Schools is a partnership between the Kansas State Department of Education and the Kansas Department of Health and Environment.