A 30-Year Journey of Monitoring Fitness and Skill Outcomes in Physical Education: Lessons Learned and a Focus on the Future


The aims of this paper are to provide normative data for primary school-age children from various regions in Australia, to identify secular trends in the data over three decades, to focus on results for selected schools that have adopted varied levels of commitment to the physical education program and finally, to demonstrate a way forward to improve the fitness and skill levels of children.

Children’s physical (PQ), fitness (FQ) and skill (SQ) quotient data were collated from over 30 years (1981-2012) of program implementation, with individual data from 27,571 students aged 6 – 12 years. Compared to the initial cohort of children from whom the sub-scale was created (1981- 1989), mean PQ data were consistently 10 – 15 points lower for both boys and girls over the past three decades.

There appears no identifiable trend for Australian rural versus metropolitan students. Of great concern, however, was the decline in skill level for the younger children over the past 20 years. While fitness levels appear to have been maintained, the poorer SQ scores for the cohort aged 6 years, particularly in females, clearly impact negatively on the composite PQ values. With detailed test protocols and quotient calculations freely available, and now published normative data, the PQ can be used widely across nations to develop genuine hope for the future of improving the health of children.


Garry TesterTimothy R. AcklandLaurence Houghton
School of Sport Science, Exercise and Health, The University of Western Australia, Perth, Australia.

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