The girl was barely 11 years old but her words sounded as one of a seasoned 25-year teacher. I had asked a simple question, “Why would someone take a fitness test before doing any fitness?” 

The test will help to group us based on our strengths and weaknesses.

In the moment I was taken aback. She was right. But after class, I was even more taken aback. She was RIGHT! 
I had been using fitness assessments somewhat loosely in my 8 years of teaching to see where my students were (physically) and to motivate them to set goals. Otherwise, I didn’t use them much, other than grading their growth throughout the year. They would take he test at the beginnng of the year and then again at the end, and be given a grade based on how well they improved. Then… I would walk away happy. I had collected data. Well done me. 

Then we had a small PD session on data collection and assessment, and just as I started the thought, “that this doesn’t apply to me”, it hit me. It did apply. I might not have reading data to analyze or fancy math stats but I had four years of data – fitness data. And further still, I had just collected fitness data for almost 200 students… my students. 

That 5th grade girl had shown me the error of my ways. My data could, and should, be used to dictate what activities I chose and who those activities suited best. If Hassan struggled with their Beep Test than their focus should be on improving their cardiovascular endurance. If Sarah had difficulty with the push ups then her focus should be on developing her core and upper body strength and endurance. Specific strengths need specific activities. Specific weaknesses need even more specific activities. 

And in the end, whatever the activity, data would be used, and my students will be all the better for it.