Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Data Tracking at its Finest

So a big part of your PEP grant was agreeing to report back to the Department of Education the number of minutes of MVPA that the students of your district are able to achieve during four separate weeks. Many districts do not have a reliable platform that enables them to collect or report this required data. The time to figure that out is before you submit your grant. If for whatever reason you have not, don’t panic – there is help. Let’s start from the beginning.

MVPA is defined a Moderate to Vigorous Physical Activity. Most experts agree that a person is demonstrating MVPA when they are expending more energy than is required to walk at a normal pace. The difference between moderate and vigorous is demonstrated by an individual who is engaged in exercise and their ability to carry on a conversation. If a person is in the category of “vigorous”, then they should not be able to carry on a normal conversation.

Dr. McKenzie of San Diego State University developed an evaluation tool called SOFIT to determine through classroom observation what level of activity students are engaged in. While many districts use this tool to determine the change of the level of activity in PE classes and the impact of the introduction of their PEP programs, this alone is not acceptable to the Department of Education as evidence of MVPA minutes in students. Classroom observation alone is inadequate for MVPA reporting. As a PEP recipient, you have to be more aggressive than that.

You need a log for your students to utilize to record their minutes of physical activity in a given week. Self-reporting has been shown to not be the most effective strategy, especially in younger students. However, it seems from my experience to be exactly what the Department of Education wants you to use. Our districts have been using self-reporting for about five years now and we have never had a problem with the submitted data.

Which platform should you use for student self-reporting? In studies I have reviewed, the closer to the incident, the more accurate the data that is reported. Some of my districts use online tools for their students. Others have technology grants to provide laptops for all of their students and they use supporting software. Most districts I work with end up using a Fitness Journal of sorts to help students plan physical activity sessions and to track MVPA.

As a Project Director, you have the flexibility to create a Fitness Journal for your students. The profile of the typical Project Director is a PE Instructor who cares deeply about their students and their craft. Most do not have the time to create a tool from scratch, collect the data from students, and report that data back to the Department of Education.

To this end, AFS has published My Fitness Journal, a self-reporting platform for students in grades 4-12. This tool takes your students through a progression, which starts with a fitness assessment and pre-test. From there they set specific goals to improve their performance in the tests, plan physical activities that will make the required improvements, track their activity sessions, and conduct a fitness post-test using the same evaluation criteria. After gathering their results, they are able to conduct an analysis of why they met or did not meet their goals. Students track all of this data in the Appendix of the book.

My Fitness Journal was developed to be an economical platform for teachers who have received a PEP grant. AFS also provides staff development sessions, an Instructor Manual, and evaluation follow-up to your district. We will hold your hand through the entire process if that is what you want and or need.

There are very few options for tracking MVPA that meet the expectations of the Department of Education. To see a pdf of the first several pages of the manual, please email us and we will send you a pdf immediately. Remember that your evaluation is due mid April, so don’t procrastinate. Make sure you receive approval for the continuation of your funding by submitting quality data to the Department of Education on time.