The Cooper Institute

Founded in 1970 by the "Father of Aerobics"
Kenneth H. Cooper MD, MPH


Des Moines Public Schools and FitnessGram

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Wednesday, Aug 30, 2017

We have certainly become a techno-centric society, and with the rapid proliferation of new technologies in the classroom, it’s not uncommon to utilize multiple systems for a variety of needs, and sometimes these systems don’t always speak the same language. As a FitnessGram user, you may have encountered this challenge when trying to import data. In an effort to streamline the import of student, teacher, and class rosters into the FitnessGram® software, Des Moines Public Schools discovered a solution using Infinite Campus.

When we originally started working with FitnessGram® we had a dedicated staff member who manually uploaded all of the data into the FitnessGram® software. All changes had to be manually adjusted daily. This was not an efficient use of allocated resources and we reached out to FitnessGram® to explore other options. While problem solving, we had to keep in mind that every year, 1 in 4 of our students will transfer within our district. Due to this high mobility, common practices or third party solutions do not necessarily fit well with our data needs. We investigated potential options to import our data from our student information system, Infinite Campus, into FitnessGram® in an effort to streamline our process and remove any manual intervention.

Our first attempt at streamlining FitnessGram® imports was to implement a Schools Interoperability Framework (SIF) connection which allowed us to send data to FitnessGram® daily without manual involvement. Originally we attempted to use a SIF connection that used a script to pull the data and send it to FitnessGram®. The SIF connection did not allow us to filter the data down to just the PE courses for our students. Instead we found a solution using the Data Extract Utility in Infinite Campus, a custom product purchased from Infinite Campus located in the System Administration Module.

The Data Extract Utility provides an automated data extract tool for the purpose of transferring data via a flat file from Infinite Campus servers into third party software.  Our programmer created a script to pull all of the data into a single table.  Daily at 11 PM a process runs to pull the data out of the table and sends it in file to FitnessGram® using the FTP option found in the FitnessGram® software. Once it reaches FitnessGram®, the data is put into an overnight queue. The information is then imported into FitnessGram® so that the following morning the data is refreshed and ready for district staff to access. The data that is provided to FitnessGram® is based on the students’ current enrollment and schedule. Changes to a student’s schedule are reflected in FitnessGram® the following day. This allows the streamline of information to happen on a continual basis without any manual data entry.

This upcoming school year, FitnessGram® will be fully implemented in all of our schools, K-12. We currently have a total of 80 physical education teachers using the FitnessGram® software. Since technology can be challenging for some staff members, our teachers will be provided with multiple tiers of support. Internal support will be provided through our professional learning communities (PLC) and professional development. Our staff will also have access to external support by utilizing FitnessGram® resources from The Cooper Institute which include weekly webinars, support webpages, and the FitnessGram® Help Desk.

We are anticipating that using FitnessGram® will provide our teachers a more efficient way to document students’ physical education assessments and give them the opportunity to analyze their students and class data to make better data driven decisions. The information provided on the customizable dashboard allows our staff members a quick overview of the all of the data points being collected in FitnessGram®. We are looking forward to continuing our partnership with FitnessGram®, Dr. Greg Welk (FitnessGram® Scientific Director), and expect great things to continue in the future at Des Moines Public Schools.

Carlye Satterwhite serves as the K-12 PE/Health Curriculum Coordinator for Des Moines Public SchoolsMargi Neve serves as the Information Systems and Security Specialist for Des Moines Public Schools.

About Des Moines Public Schools: Des Moines Public Schools is the largest district in Iowa.. We serve approximately 33,000 students and host 63 schools, including 38 elementary schools, 11 middle schools, 5 comprehensive high schools, and 10 schools that provide a range of specialized and alternative educational programs.

The district’s demographic makeup reflects both cultural richness and a wide socioeconomic range. DMPS is a “majority minority” with 60% of the students considered minority. Nearly 75% of students qualify for free and reduced price meals. The district’s population of English Language Learners by itself is larger than all but 15 of the state’s roughly 350 school districts, with anywhere from 80-100 languages and dialects represented. Some people think diversity is a challenge for education. DMPS considers it not only an opportunity, but also an educational bonus afforded the students who learn, grow and graduate here.