Date of Conferral



Doctor of Education (Ed.D.)




Mel Finkenberg


Researchers have reported on the relationship between academic achievement and physical fitness levels. At one rural middle school, 25% of the students enrolled were either overweight or obese and failing at least one course. Educators at the local site were seeking methods to improve the academic achievement of their students. The purpose of this quantitative study was to examine the relationship between academic achievement and physical fitness of middle school students at the study site. Framed by the theoretical connection between improved physical fitness levels and academic achievement, the research questions examined the relationship between physical fitness levels of 6th grade students (N = 216) as measured by their Presidential Youth Fitness Test (PYFT) and the state-mandated Criterion Referenced Competency Test (CRCT) scores in the areas of mathematics and reading. Findings from correlational analyses indicated small, significant positive relationships between students' CRCT in mathematics and reading and their PYFT levels. The link between personal fitness and academic achievement should be further explored; researchers should also consider potential moderating variables related to demographics, motivation levels, and educational and community support. Based on the findings of the study, physical educators at the local site should advocate for physical fitness and promote the connection between physical fitness and academic achievement. The implications for positive social change include providing local research findings to the school leadership that may have a positive effect on academic achievement.