This paper analyzes the determination of the criterion referenced standards for the neuromuscular physical fitness items (sit-ups, sit-and-reach, and pullups) typically included in health related physical fitness test batteries for children and adolescents. Criterion referenced standards should be linked to some specific status on a health criterion that represents an absolute desirable level of that characteristic. Three techniques used to determine and/or validate criterion referenced standards are discussed: the use of empirical data with an established criterion test, the use of empirical data with instructed versus uninstructed groups, and the use of normative data and expert judgment. It is concluded that the existing criterion referenced standards have been derived exclusively from normative data and expert opinion. It remains unknown as to the meaning of these standards in relation to desirable and absolute levels of health.
Sharon Ann Plowman is with the Department of Physical Education at Northern Illinois University, DeKalb, IL 60115.