‘One-Stop Shopping’ Eases Data Collection and Reporting for Teachers and Administrators
The all-in-one component of IHT’s FitnessGram® software enabled Ector County Independent School District (Texas) teachers and administrators to conduct their annual fitness testing with more confidence and efficiency.
“We are hearing from our teachers that this is really working well for them,” Ector County ISD Assistant Athletics Director Crystal Day said. “They have saved a significant amount of time.”
Day is in her first year overseeing her district’s fitness testing. ECISD uses the FitnessGram® tests to gauge student fitness each spring and submit the mandatory Physical Fitness Assessment Initiative (PFAI) report to the Texas Education Agency. Assistant AD Hilberto Ochoa oversaw testing in prior years. At the district level, Ochoa said submitting the PFAI report took just a fraction of the time it took previously.
“Last year was the first year we used it and it was both my first year and the director of student data’s first year to submit this report,” he said. “We were prepared for it to be difficult, but it literally took her five minutes to do it and she was shocked that it was that fast. I don’t know exactly how it was in the past, but from her reaction, I got the impression that it used to be a much more difficult process.”
To submit the year-end reports to the TEA, Ochoa and Day use the data stored in the district FitnessGram coordinator’s IHT Spirit System account. When testing is complete, the coordinator can create the PFAI report for all of the district’s schools.
A More Efficient Way to Conduct FitnessGram® Testing
Prior to adopting the IHT software on 35 campuses, both teachers struggled with conducting their FitnessGram® testing because the district didn’t have a uniform way to conduct it and manage the data.
Previously, each teacher had to create their own data collection system. Some created spreadsheets where they could log results after collecting them manually. To administer tests such as the beep (PACER) test, they searched YouTube for videos and then had to sync the video with music played through Bluetooth speakers and then make sure everything was queued up correctly before starting. Not anymore.
“The IHT software makes it a one-stop shop,” Day said. “Teachers appreciate having everything in one place, and that’s really important when you’re trying to navigate this in a gym space or class space. Having everything pre-set into the software is very advantageous.”
IHT’s FitnessGram® software, which is the official software of Presidential Youth Fitness Program (PYFP) test data collection, includes:
- Measures to assess students on each test
- The ability to collect and enter data in real time using a tablet or other internet-ready mobile device
- The ability to easily create individual detail or class summary reports to show student and class progress
When he presented teachers with the software last year, Ochoa saw a noticeable difference in their comfort level with conducting testing.
“They were very happy to not have to do what we did before, which was test kids and then try to find some kind of software in order to do the beep test (PACER),” he said. “This has been an all-in-one. Teachers no longer have to use Excel sheets to collect the data and then input everything again. With IHT, everything is downloaded and you can start your mile test and as students finish you can click and the data is sent automatically into the system. All of that stuff is really good.”
Especially the data collection, Day said. Not having to take extra steps to enter the data once it’s been collected has been a big source of stress relief for ECISD’s PE teachers.
“Using the IHT software, there is much less a sense of fear (of losing data),” Day said. “They know that once they start the process, they are good to go. (Previously), sometimes people would start the process and get halfway done and then the computer goes down and you have to restart the process. Even scares like that are noteworthy. They don’t worry that if the power goes out in the school today, did they just lose all the data they’ve been working on for the last two weeks.”
Conducting FitnessGram® Testing and Utilizing the Results
As of mid-May, ECISD had compiled 95% of the data it needed to submit its PFAI report. In evaluating the data, Day said many of her teachers and coaches have been pleased with the number of students achieving Healthy Fitness Zone scores on the various FitnessGram® tests.
“We’re going to do a deep dive into the results, but from talking with our teachers and coaches, we feel like students have been pretty successful with the tests,” Day said. “Kudos to the teachers for all the other time and activities they are doing leading up to the tests, getting kids excited about fitness and getting them ready for the testing.”
Expanding Technology in ECISD’s PE Classrooms
FitnessGram® test results aside, Day said she’s most proud of the way teachers have connected with students to get them excited about fitness, especially as they have returned to campus following COVID.
“More than anything else, though, it’s been giving the kids the ability to be excited about getting healthier,” Day said. “All of the work that’s done throughout the entire year encompasses a kid’s health level and their education of health. Most kids have been successful scoring on the tests, but more than that we’re excited that they are embracing the process of being healthier.”
Day said many teachers stepped back after a year of Zoom PE and held on to certain aspects that kept students engaged upon their return to campus. That’s been evident in the way students have participated in their classes.
“Teaching PE via Zoom was kind of ‘pull my hair out,’ for many,” Day said. “But we found diverse ways to be active and enjoy fitness and movement. I think a lot of our teachers have done a good job of integrating technology from the Zoom days and have taken the best of both worlds to make a better experience for students today. We’ve been able to see that this year with kids who are for sure excited to run around, get active, get sweaty a little bit.”
Day plans to build on that momentum by expanding the way ECISD uses IHT’s different technologies. The district will continue to utilize the FitnessGram® software to conduct assessments, but after seeing the IHT ZONE wrist heart rate monitors in action at the 2022 SHAPE America convention, she’s looking at creating pilot programs across the district with the heart rate monitors as well.
“We are learning to be more efficient with the program we have but we are super-excited for some of the other items we can connect and cross the paths together,” she said. “We will be looking at purchasing some of the (IHT heart rate monitors) and adding that as an element. We’ve had some great conversations about that. This has been a stepping stone for us to challenge ourselves to do more with it.”
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FitnessGram® and Healthy Fitness Zone® are brand names and are trademarked by The Cooper Institute®, Dallas, Texas.