Returning Texas Senate Bill 530 back to 1100 Congress Avenue: The need for effective surveillance reporting of student fitness levels to Texas house representatives

Jud Janak, The University of Texas School of Public Health


Every Texas student is required to complete the FITNESSGRAM fitness assessment under legislation outlined in Senate Bill 530. This study described cardiovascular, body mass index (BMI), and overall fitness levels of students (grades 3–12) in the state of Texas during the 2009–2010 school year, and provides examples of how to effectively present results to Texas House Representatives using three unique health communication strategies. Given the Texas legislature mandates FITNESSGRAM collection yet did not require reporting according to their election district, the data were aggregated to 150 Texas House Representative Districts by sex and grade category to facilitate effective fitness data dissemination. Fitness data were also analyzed with results from the Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills (TAKS) to provide insight into potential relationships between fitness and academic achievement. The majority of students in Texas need improvement on at least 1 fitness assessment. In general, female students have superior fitness in elementary and middle school but the fitness edge is erased by high school. Female cardiovascular fitness deteriorates faster from elementary to high school compared to male students. Female BMI deteriorates and male BMI improves from elementary to high school. Cardiovascular fitness and overall fitness decreases from elementary to high school for both male and female students. Student fitness was significantly and strongly independently correlated with academic achievement. Further analysis showed that House Representatives with TAKS scores in the top quartile consistently showed superior fitness. Small significant partial correlations remain between fitness and TAKS assessment after controlling for socioeconomic status. In general, correlations were stronger between female BMI and TAKS assessment compared to male students. Cardiovascular fitness was significantly correlated with TAKS assessment for both genders. This paper supports student fitness as a confounder in the relationship between socioeconomic status and academic achievement. Plus, student fitness has a strong correlation with academic that deserves further exploration. Senate Bill 530 fails to organize and implement a health communication strategy that effectively disseminates the health data collected to stakeholders of interest. The lack of a vital health communication strategy results in an incomplete student health surveillance system. This paper outlines three unique strategies tailored to legislators. It is important to disseminate health information using a variety of methods tailored to your targeted audience. The use of interactive mapping technology presented (GIS) uses new technology that has the potential to effectively reach a large audience.

Subject Area

Public health|Epidemiology

Recommended Citation

Janak, Jud, "Returning Texas Senate Bill 530 back to 1100 Congress Avenue: The need for effective surveillance reporting of student fitness levels to Texas house representatives" (2011). Texas Medical Center Dissertations (via ProQuest). AAI1497579.