What do the towns of Thompson, Preston, Windsor Locks and Chester, have in common? Less than 20 percent of fourth grade students in those communities meet the standard on all four physical fitness tests – the lowest percentages in the state. On the upper end of the spectrum, 100% of fourth grade students in only two towns - Union and Caanan - pass all four physical fitness tests, as do more than 80 percent of fourth graders in Cornwall, New Canaan and Sterling. Overall, in only 23 communities did more than two-thirds the fourth grade students pass all four physical fitness tests, and in another 76 communities more than half (but less than two-thirds) of the students did so. In 67 communities, fewer than half of the fourth graders pass all four tests. The data, from 2010, was not available from 3 of Connecticut's 169 towns and cities.
In 2009, only 29 cities and towns had more than half of their 4th graders pass all four physical fitness tests. In 2010 that number jumped to 99 towns.
The data is available on the web site of the Connecticut Data Collaborative, which is bringing together data from various state agencies, making it more readily available to the public, along with the means to combine data from different agencies and chart the information in data visualization charts that help to illustrate patterns that enhance understanding.
The Connecticut Data Collaborative is a collaborative public-private effort to improve the quality of and access to policy-related data in the state - a central portal where all Connecticut organizations and residents can access a wide range of data from federal, state, local and private sources relating to the health, well-being and economy of the residents of the State of Connecticut. The goals of the Collaborative include:
- Advocacy - Advocating for the public availability of all state data to inform public debate and to drive planning, policy, budgeting and decision making in state government.
- Standards - Promoting and modeling use of data standards around privacy, interoperability, data definitions and quality.
- Access - Meeting demands for public access to data through the Collaborative's data portal, CTData.org, and the associated Connecticut Nonprofit Strategy Platform.
- Building Capacity -- Creating opportunities for Collaborative and peer support in data development and use both online and in person.
On the issue of physical fitness in the schools, Tennessee and Connecticut are the first states in the country to respond to the links between health and exercise, childhood obesity and academic performance with the establishment of School Health Coordinators. Tennessee's law has brought solid results, and Connecticut's legislature approved a pilot program earlier this year.