It's A Workout Deciphering TEA's Latest Instructions On Its "Fitnessgram"

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Hair Balls believes intensely and fully in the physical fitness benefits of wind sprints, pumping iron and teamwork camaraderie. But even we took pause at an end-of-the-month missive sent out to school districts around the state from the Texas Education Agency, passed on to us by a Friend of Hair Balls.

As we noted last year there are some real questions about the efficacy of the mandatory Fitnessgram that public school districts are required to give all their students (as in, are the kids involved really trying and if not, does this really measure anything and um, why are social studies teachers having to run the stopwatch?)

In fact, in the last session of the state Legislature, some question was raised about the costs associated with the program.

Since then, it appears that financial circumstances have worsened considerably for many districts such as HISD and Fort Bend.

But nevermind all that. TEA still is expecting -- as this densely worded e-mail makes kind of clear -- the need for "a single fitness assessment data submitter," the purchase of new or upgraded software as needed to report the data and access to TEASE (who says those state bureaucrats don't have a sense of humor?) which stands for theTexas Education Agency Secure Environment system.

Here's the memo:

March 26, 2010

To: The Administrator Addressed

Subject: Fitness Assessment Data Submission Requirement

The system for collecting fitness assessment data for all students in grades 3-12 is now open. Each school district is required, per the Texas Education Code Chapter 38.101-104, to submit their 2009-2010 fitness assessment data to the Texas Education Agency by 5:00 pm on Friday, May 14, 2010. The information provided below will help you with the submission process.

First, each district should appoint a single fitness assessment data submitter for the district SQL server FITNESSGRAM software users or campus-level data submitters (one per campus) for the small-area network and stand-alone FITNESSGRAM software users. We recommend that someone from your technology staff be involved in this process to ensure correct export of the required data. If you are unsure which level of software your district is using, contact Human Kinetics at 1-800-747-4457 for clarification.

Next, all current FITNESSGRAM software must be upgraded to FG8.5.1. The upgrade is available at www.fitnessgram.net/userinfo. This upgrade is required for effectively uploading fitness assessment data into PFAI. Additional information on FITNESSGRAM is available at www.fitnessgram.net/texas. To purchase new FITNESSGRAM software for new campuses or lost materials, you can visit www.fitnessgram.net/store to place an order.

Then, fitness assessment data must be sent through Physical Fitness Assessment Initiative (PFAI) application within the Texas Education Agency Secure Environment (TEASE) System. To access the PFAI application, you must first apply through TEASE. If you do not have a TEASE account, please apply for one by following the instructions at http://ritter.tea.state.tx.us/health/PFAI_TEASE_application_instructions.pdf. This link also provides instructions for requesting access to PFAI once you have access to TEASE. Once you have submitted your request for access, your superintendent must approve and submit the approval to TEA. This process may take up to 10 days from your original request. Requests for access should be completed as soon as possible. If you received access to PFAI in a previous year and do not remember your user name and password, please contact computer.access@tea.state.tx.us.

Finally, due to changes in federal and state ethnicity codes, schools will not be required to submit ethnicity data during the 2009-2010 school year. If your school wishes to import student ethnicity data into FITNESSGRAM, it will be filtered out as a part of the state data collection, but will still be useable at the local level. Additional and valuable information regarding FITNESSGRAM data submission was shared during a videoconference and webinar on March 3rd, 2010 and is available to view at http://www.a4hk.org/filelib/DataUseit.wmv.

If you have questions, please send them to pfai@tea.state.tx.us. Assistance is also available by phone at (512) 463-3070.


Marissa Rathbone, Director
Division of Health and Safety

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