The Most Painful Test 


Nicole Velez, Editor in Chief


The Physical Fitness Test to some is a chance to stand out, to shine. But those are not the people I want to shed a light on today. I want to acknowledge those who we often forget in the midst of gushing about the achievements of others; those who are upset because of a test that “doesn’t even count” in gym class.

The imaginary line of success and failure that we now know as “The Physical Fitness Test” originally aimed to advocate for more fitness in kids and young adults… in the 1950s! The test is largely outdated, and although some changes were made in 1985, it is due time to either consider 1) new changes or 2) complete abolishment in regards to the administration at East Hampton High School. 

I feel my argument is supported best by a gym teacher herself, featured in a Vox article,  saying, “[w]e knew who was going to be last, and we were embarrassing them.” The truth of the matter is that whether we like it or not there will always be individuals, students, who fall below the scale, even when research suggests the test is not reflective of true physical fitness. The test was just not created for certain people. 

In our district, I feel we do a fairly good job of supporting peers regardless of their physical state. But behind closed doors, I’ve often heard nasty remarks. And even more distressing, I’ve been a witness and listening ear to the insecurity of many.

The imaginary line of success and failure was made a national test aiming to advocate for more fitness in kids and young adults… in the 1950s! The test was more reflective of a military training exercise than what it was supposed to be: a challenge for kids to promote health/fitness.

“Experts” who developed the test formed their fitness philosophy during training in World War II; no surprise there. The pull-up test, still present today, is an excellent example. The exercise was perfect for soldiers who needed to pull themselves out of foxholes in the war. But I ask, what does this have to do with promoting kids’ health and fitness? 

The answer is nothing. This is why the test has been removed as a mandate by former President Barrack Obama and instead switched out for a focus on healthy living. But our school, and district for that matter, has made the decision to keep the test running since its 2012 removal. 

I understand there are students who do enjoy the test regardless of their performance and perhaps monitor their growth. And although that group is limited to a small number of people, I don’t suggest removing the test in its entirety. Perhaps meeting halfway is a better solution. The power of choice could make all the difference for students at East Hampton High School.

The test has swayed too far from what it once was and what it aimed to do: promote kids’ health and fitness. As soon as the goals changed so did the results and the attitudes towards the test. I feel that we no longer have a reason to perform the [mandatory ]Physical Fitness Test at our school; the nation has removed it and should follow in our country’s move into a new era- without the test. But still offer it, should a student have a motive to partake in it.