In a report released today, city health and education researchers conclude that students’ academic performance is linked to their fitness level, but note that there’s no evidence for why that might be.
Issued jointly by the Health Department and Department of Education, the report focuses on public school students in grades K-8 and compares their standardized test scores to the data taken from NYC FitnessGram, a program that tests students’ fitness in gym class.
According to the report, students whose fitness scores rank in the top five percent, score 36 percentage points higher than students whose fitness level is in the bottom five percent.
The report’s authors take care to side step any question of causation. They write:
However, because information collected for this study provides only a snapshot view of a student’s fitness and academic performance, it is not possible to show the direction of the association. For example, improved physical fitness may lead to better test performance or better test performance may lead to an improvement in physical fitness. Additionally, this report does not examine the impact of poverty or other factors that may influence students’ academic achievement and fitness levels.
Why the two departments decided to compare this data is not entirely clear, but the reports notes that its results will be used to “inform strategies to continue raising student achievement levels.”