10/24/2013 03:59 am ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

Most California Kids Can't Pass State Fitness Exam

Only about a third of California students in fifth, seventh and ninth grades passed all six sections of a state physical fitness test this year, according to annual test results released Wednesday.

Ventura County students had similar results, with 33 percent passing all six sections of the fitness test taken each spring.

The test checks aerobic capacity, body composition, abdominal strength, upper-body strength, trunk strength and overall flexibility.

Physical fitness matters because "healthy kids learn better," state schools Superintendent Tom Torlakson said in a news release.

"I'm pleased to see the slow shift toward better health continue, but when only about a third of our students are physically fit, we are nowhere near the end of this effort," Torlakson said. "To help them succeed in school and in life, California's young people need more access to physical activity; fresh, healthy food; and clean water."

Statewide, about 26 percent of fifth-graders, 32 percent of seventh-graders and 37 percent of ninth-graders scored in the "healthy fitness zone" on all six parts of the test. Fifth- and seventh-graders did slightly better than last year, and ninth-graders did about the same.

By comparison, 25 percent of Ventura County fifth-graders, 31 percent of seventh-graders and 42 percent of ninth-graders passed all six sections. The ninth-graders improved slightly over last year, while the younger students' scores dropped.

The Ventura and Oak Park unified school districts both did significantly better than the state and county averages, with 43 percent of students who took the test passing all six sections.

Ventura has salad bars, hydration stations where students can fill water bottles, and track and cross country teams in some elementary and middle schools, said Superintendent Trudy Tuttle Arriaga. The district also educates parents in good nutrition, Arriaga said.

"That doesn't mean we think our kids should never eat a cupcake," Arriaga said. "But when they're in Ventura Unified, they're going to get healthy food, and they're going to be educated about health and wellness."

To see the full results, visit ___



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