Test shows 3 of 4 LAUSD students out of shape

TARZANA, Calif. Physical education class at /*Gaspar De Portola Middle School*/ in Tarzana is all about getting fit -- and no horseplay.

"I really like to keep the kids engaged, to make sure they're moving all the time," said P.E. teacher De Dow. "We offer a variety of activities."

While schools like Portola are striving to whip kids into shape, most students in L.A. are far from it.

Only one in four LAUSD students is physically fit, according to the latest fitness test, slightly better numbers than last year but still below the state average.

Basically, the results show that a mere 25 percent of L.A. Unified School District students passed the fitness test. Two percent improvement over the year before. Statewide, just over 30 percent of students are in shape.

"In these budget times it's a huge challenge," said Chad Fenwick, an LAUSD physical education adviser. "In the last three years we had funding from the state. They provided $500 million for physical education equipment supplies and professional development that we've been using."

School district officials say thanks to recent state aid, most schools in the district now have physical fitness programs. Some, like Portola, even have full-scale indoor fitness centers with makeshift rock-climbing walls and more.

In the state physical fitness test, students must pass five of six health-related tasks.

"There's cardiovascular fitness, there's flexibility, there's muscle-strength and endurance and body composition," said Fenwick.

Health officials say getting kids fit is a priority. Officials predict that 20 percent of America's children will be considered obese by next year.

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