SMMUSD physical fitness results by grade level. (Source: California Department of Education)

SMMUSD HDQTRS — The number of healthy fifth graders has increased districtwide over the last three years, but unfortunately so has the number of at-risk ninth graders, according to a statewide report released earlier this week.

Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District students were on average healthier than others in California across all measured categories and grades.

Fitnessgram, the statewide fitness test, was administered to 1.34 million fifth, seventh, and ninth graders, or nearly 94 percent of all students enrolled in those grades, according to state education officials.

“The simple fact is that healthy kids learn better,” said Tom Torlakson, state superintendent of public instruction. “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. 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.”

More than 82 percent of SMMUSD fifth graders have a healthy aerobic capacity, compared to 76 percent last year.

Nearly 71 percent of fifth graders have healthy body compositions compared to 69 percent last year and 66 percent the year prior. More than 18 percent of fifth graders have at-risk body compositions.

At-risk students are those who have the potential for future health problems. They need increased physical activity and a more-balanced diet.

Despite positive increases, two district elementary schools have a higher percentage of at-risk fifth graders than the state average.

At Will Rogers Elementary School, 39.2 percent of fifth graders had an at-risk body composition compared to 36.1 last year and 29.9 the year before. The state average is 33.7 percent. At John Muir Elementary School, 34 percent of fifth graders are categorized as at-risk, up 3 percent from last year.

The number of at-risk ninth graders has increased from 16.3 to 18 and now to 18.3 percent in the body composition category over the past three years. In the aerobic category, the number of at-risk ninth graders has jumped over the last three years from 6.8 percent to 10.2 percent.

SMMUSD seventh graders have shown no major trend changes in one direction or the other in recent years. Almost 75 percent of seventh graders have a healthy aerobic capacity and 68 percent have a healthy body composition. State averages are 64 and 56 percent, respectively.

More than 6 percent of seventh graders have at-risk aerobic capacity and more than 18 percent are at-risk in body composition. These numbers are up only slightly since last year. State averages were 12 and 30 percent, respectively.

Four other less significant fitness areas were measured in the test. Almost 86 percent of SMMUSD ninth graders had healthy upper body strength, 10 percent higher than the state average. More than 93 percent of SMMUSD fifth graders had healthy abdominal strength, 16 points higher than the state average.

The Daily Press reached out to several school officials but they were not available to comment in time for the publication of this article.

For more information on the fitness test results, visit

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