The Cooper Institute

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


Positive and Negative Influences of Large-Scale Fitness Assessment: Results of Testing with 3 Million Texas Youth

As teachers and students head back to school, a supplement to the Research Quarterly for Exercise and Sport (RQES) presents key findings and issues associated with the statewide assessment of youth fitness in Texas. The supplement, "Texas Youth Fitness Study," provides an in-depth analysis and evaluation of data collected through the state-mandated health-related fitness testing of all public school children in Texas in grades 3 through 12.  

Scott B. Martin and James R. Morrow, Jr. of the University of North Texas are co-editors of the supplement. "This series of papers is a must read for any individual, group, or state considering large-scale fitness testing," Morrow said. Key points in the papers include:

  • Higher physical fitness test achievement is related to higher state academic test scores and higher attendance, fewer negative school incidents and overall school quality, as indicated by the state ranking system (exemplary, recognized, acceptable, or unacceptable);
  • Teachers work hard to conduct important and quality testing and do a good job of testing despite often challenging school settings;
  • Teachers share their positive and negative experiences and provide ways to improve testing in challenging school settings and for large-scale testing across a state;
  • Reliability and validity of large-scale testing is good; and suggestions for testing in challenging school settings and in large-scale testing for regional, state, and national settings are provided.

In addition, one of the 11 papers presents results of research supported by the National Association for Sport and Physical Education (NASPE) related to psychosocial variables and physical fitness in middle school students.

Dr. Kenneth Cooper, founder of The Cooper Institute, authors a preface and a final reflection with implications for the future. As Cooper states in the preface, "In 2007, we embarked on concerted efforts to increase attention to the importance of health-related fitness in Texas children and youth. The emphasis was on establishing a statewide database to facilitate tracking of fitness in Texas schools. Better data on youth fitness is needed to understand more fully the magnitude of the problem [childhood obesity and diabetes] and help evaluate the effectiveness of different programming strategies."

The studies focus on: the relation between fitness test achievement and academic achievement; the reliability and validity of fitness testing with large samples; teacher interviews regarding large-scale fitness testing; psychosocial variables related to cardiorespiratory fitness and body mass index, and school and teacher characteristics associated with fitness test achievement. Featured are results of three years of testing and a year-long evaluation study conducted by scientists at The Cooper Institute, Iowa State University, the University of Illinois, and the University of North Texas.

The supplement is funded by a grant to The Cooper Institute through the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. Members of SHAPE America(formerly known as the American Alliance for Health, Physical Education Recreation and Dance), who select RQES as a journal choice, along with institutional subscribers, receive the supplement as part of their subscription. To purchase a copy, contact ABDI (866-759-5269 or 412-741-1142). The 88-page supplement includes 11 papers and costs $20 per copy (plus shipping and handling).


The Cooper Institute was established in 1970 as a 501(c)(3) nonprofit research and education organization dedicated to preventive medicine. The Cooper Institute focuses on scientific research in the field of preventive medicine and public health and communicating the results of research to the scientific and medical communities as well as to the general public.

The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation focuses on the pressing health and health care issues facing our country. As the nation's largest philanthropy devoted exclusively to improving the health and health care of all Americans, the Foundation works with a diverse group of organizations and individuals to identify solutions and achieve comprehensive, meaningful and timely change. For more than 35 years the Foundation has brought experience, commitment, and a rigorous, balanced approach to the problems that affect the health and health care of those it serves. Helping Americans lead healthier lives and get the care they need—the Foundation expects to make a difference in our lifetime.


Gayle Claman

SHAPE America, an alliance of five national associations, six district associations, and a Research Consortium, provides its members with a comprehensive and coordinated array of resources, support, and programs to help practitioners improve their skills to further the health and well-being of the American public. It is the largest organization of professionals involved in physical education, recreation, fitness, dance, health promotion and all specialties related to achieving an active, healthy lifestyle. SHAPE America serves 20,000 members and has its headquarters in Reston, Virginia, 25 miles west of Washington DC.