It’s time to adopt a new physical education assessment system


Daria Burnosova

BHS’ physical education grading divided by genders in the spring semester of 2022

Daria Burnosova, Senior Reporter

Burlingame requires two years of physical education (P.E.) credits, which are typically taken by freshmen and sophomores. The grading is based on the California Physical Fitness Testing (PFT) standards, meaning girls and boys have different requirements to earn an ‘A’ grade. For example, at Burlingame, girls have eight minutes to finish their mile and achieve an ‘A’ grade, while boys have seven to perform the same exercise and earn the same grade. I believe that expecting boys and girls to perform at different standards is not fair. Why shouldn’t this grade be based on improvement and effort rather than gender and physical skill?

The nature of the class requires exercising in front of peers, which can be stressful, especially when worrying about maintaining a good grade. I believe Burlingame should recognize that not all kids have the same skill sets, and a rigid grading structure is not fair. Instead, being graded on improvement may motivate students to progress from previous times and records, while not being overwhelmed with stress. 

The state of California mandates a specific amount of hours that a student, both male and female, must participate in the class. For the six mandated California PFTs, there is a formula that divides by gender. For example, for the one mile PFT, the formula is VO2 max = (.21 * age * gender) – (.84 * BMI) – (8.41 * time) + (.34 * time * time) + 108.94. The gender factor is zero for girls and one for boys, which does make quite the difference. Additionally, the use of body mass and genders as a factor of grading is obscure and insensitive. This creates a large difference, as males have to run under a minute less than females do to achieve the same grade.

The California PFT is mandatory for students in fifth, seventh and ninth grade. However, for sophomores, the PFT is not required, meaning Burlingame could adopt a new grading system. I believe Burlingame should alter these standards to ensure that students have the opportunity to pass class, without fulfilling strict requirements. Being graded based on effort and improvement would make P.E. class is less stressful for students, while still motivating them to try their best.