Culinary Specialist 3rd Class Kyle Fearno, assigned to Naval Medical Center San Diego, cheers a middle school student to finish her push-ups during a physical fitness field day at Jean Farb Middle School in 2011. Photo courtesy U.S. Navy by Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Clay M. Whaley/CC-BY-2.0.
Culinary Specialist 3rd Class Kyle Fearno, assigned to Naval Medical Center San Diego, cheers a middle school student to finish her push-ups during a physical fitness field day at Jean Farb Middle School in 2011. Photo courtesy U.S. Navy by Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Clay M. Whaley/CC-BY-2.0.

Los Angeles Unified School District fifth-, seventh- and ninth-graders fared better on the California Physical Fitness Test than the previous year’s classes, but still lagged slightly behind the state, according to figures released Thursday.

More than 1.3 million students statewide took the fitness test, which measures their health in six categories — aerobic capacity, body composition, abdominal strength, trunk strength, upper body strength and flexibility.

Among LAUSD fifth-graders tested during the 2013-14 school year, 19.8 percent fulfilled all six fitness criteria, along with 22.3 percent of seventh- graders and 29.6 percent of ninth-graders, according to the California Department of Education. During testing last year, 18.7 percent of fifth- graders met all six fitness criteria, as did 21.4 percent of seventh-graders and 28.4 percent of ninth-graders.

The LAUSD’s results for 2013-14, however, lagged behind the statewide tallies. Across California, 26.6 percent of fifth-graders landed in the “Healthy Fitness Zone” by fulfilling all six fitness criteria, as well as 33 percent of seventh-graders and 38.1 percent of ninth-graders.

Students in Orange County school fared slightly better than the state, with 32.7 percent of fifth graders meeting all six criteria, 41.6 of seventh- graders and 46.1 percent of ninth-graders. That was an improvement over last year’s Orange County scores of 31 percent for fifth-graders, 41 percent for seventh-graders and 43 percent of ninth graders.

“It’s encouraging to see our students becoming more fit and healthy,” said Tom Torlakson, state Superintendent of Public Instruction. “Students have to be healthy and alert to succeed in the classroom, in college and in their careers, but also to lead a more fulfilling life.”

Torlakson, a former high school cross country coach, began the campaign to get athletes, community leaders, public health advocates, parents, teachers, and students to help youngsters increase physical activity, and improve access to fresh fruit, vegetables and drinking water.

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