FitnessGram Pacer Test is cruel

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FitnessGram Pacer Test is cruel

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By: Maya Brodows ’20

Recently, rumors that the FitnessGram Pacer Test has been banned under claims of child cruelty have been circling the school. I found out that the Pacer Test was not forbidden, but Staples decided that getting rid of them would be the best choice for students.


With the start of a new school year brings the promise of new classes, new teachers and another round of the beloved Fitnessgram testing.


The FitnessGram institution was established over 20 years ago with the purpose of assessing students’ health across the country in three, distinct categories. The FitnessGram tests were designed and implemented at Staples so teachers could observe a student’s aerobic capacity, body composition, flexibility and muscular strength through a variety of physical exams. These tests include running a mile, attempting push ups and curl-ups and, of course, the torturous pacer test.


Any student in a public school could tell you the dread that incites in their stomach when the word “pacer” is mentioned. It is during this test, by far the most taxing exercise out of the group, where a student is pushed to his or her physical limits.


Pacers are supposed to measure a participant’s cardiovascular endurance. To do this, students are forced to sprint back and forth continuously, gradually increasing their speed, until taking another step is physically impossible.


However, these pacers aren’t as good as one may think.


For nearly ten years, I had to endure the Fitnessgram Pacer Test. It was tiresome, it was painful and above all, it was traumatizing.  Although I may not enjoy running, I can recognize the value in it, which is why I understand the government’s need to force students to run a mile.  But racing to the point of collapsing (aka pacers) will never be justified.


Around 20 lengths into the pacer test, I would feel my body shut down. Embarrassed to be the first one to drop out, I would push myself harder. Eventually, when air was no longer circulating through my body and my heart felt ready to give out, I would drop onto the ground- a sweaty, motionless, ball of misery.


Worst of all, for days following the violent test, I would be sore. A painful reminder of what I had to experience days before.


Thankfully, Staples has decided to end the torture and stop making kids complete the pacer test. Hopefully, with all the tears and pain the test brings, other schools will soon follow.

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