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Alliance for Childhood. (2001). Rethink high-stakes testing. Top doctors, educators warn federal push on tests harmful to children’s health, education [Press release].
After President George W. Bush’s education initiatives to increase standardizing testing, the impact of the stress it would have on young students was highly criticized. These assessments proposed by the federal government have been criticized because they carry high stakes, and these results are linked to serious consequences for students, teachers, and schools. These test scores may not measure anything meaningful for these students and could have no connection to other more authentic measures of achievement. There are alternatives to these high-stake tests, which include performance-based assessments that are fairer and more meaningful, that look at real-world problem solving, social responsibility, etc.
Angus S. McDonald (2001) The Prevalence and Effects of Test Anxiety in School Children, Educational Psychology, 21:1, 89-101, DOI: 10.1080/01443410020019867
Tests are identified as a major source of worry and concern to many children, leading to an overall increase of test anxiety in their learning. As children grow older and progress through their education, the frequency of testing increases, along with greater expectations and pressures from schools to do well.
Chasmar, J. (2013, November 25). Common core testing makes children vomit, wet their pants: N.Y. principals. The Washington Times.
Schools across the nation are reporting the dangers of the stress that common core testing has on young students. Students cry, wet themselves, vomit, or just simply give up. This article shows how testing stress and anxiety takes a physical toll on our young students and the stress they go through when taking standardized testing.
Cheek, J., Bradley, L., Reynolds, J., & Coy, D. (2002). An Intervention for Helping Elementary Students Reduce Test Anxiety. Professional School Counseling, 6(2), 162-164.
The demand and pressure on students to do well on standardized tests in significantly higher, the need for school counselors to implement test anxiety interventions has increased. When guidance counselors work to help students ease their test stress and anxiety, scores on standardized testing went up. Stress management techniques combined with music, art, and movement make these stress relieving sessions fun and exciting for students.
Dana Carsley, Nancy L. Heath & Sophia Fajnerova (2015) Effectiveness of a Classroom Mindfulness Coloring Activity for Test Anxiety in Children, Journal of Applied School Psychology, 31:3, 239-255, DOI: 10.1080/15377903.2015.1056925
This article addresses test anxiety, but also provides some remedies to help students cope with it. The researchers looked at stress-relieving activities and gave students mandalas to color before a spelling test. Students felt more at ease when they were able to color before testing, and the results showed a general decrease in anxiety before taking the test.
Elizabeth A. Gunderson, Daeun Park, Erin A. Maloney, Sian L. Beilock & Susan C. Levine (2018) Reciprocal relations among motivational frameworks, math anxiety, and math achievement in early elementary school,Journal of Cognition and Development, 19:1, 21-46, DOI: 10.1080/15248372.2017.1421538
Along with general test anxiety, math anxiety is very common and prevalent in elementary-aged children. Math anxiety is a negative affective reaction to situations involving math that correlates with low math achievement and predicts avoidance of math-related courses, tasks and careers. Math anxiety does not always mean a low math ability, but it can lead to poor math achievement in later grades.
Frenette, Liza. “Test Stress and Academic Anxiety.” NYSUT, 6 Mar. 2015, www.nysut.org/news/nysut-united/issues/2015/march-2015/test-stress-and-academic-anxiety.
Many educators have tried pulling individual students out of class to help them deal with stress, which in turn can also increase test anxiety because they miss classroom instruction. By implementing a whole-class stress reduction strategy, test anxiety levels decreased. Math is the most common subject in which students feel the most test anxiety, so this is one of the areas we need to focus on the most for our students.
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Segool, N. K., Carlson, J. S., Goforth, A. N., von der Embse, N., & Barterian, J. A. (2013). Heightened Test Anxiety among Young Children: Elementary School Students’ Anxious Responses to High-Stakes Testing. Psychology in the Schools, 50(5), 489–499.
Test anxiety comprises psychological, physiological, and behavioral reactions that occur in association with concern about the negative outcomes resulting from failure or poor performance in evaluative situations. Approximately 10% of children are highly test-anxious and experience impairments in test performance as a result. The No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB), requires that annual achievement testing begin in the 3rd grade, and that test anxiety amongst students is significantly greater for high-stakes testing than it is for classroom testing. Teachers also experience significantly more anxiety about their student’s performance on these high-stakes testing.
Thompson, R. (2014, April 23). Too much test stress? Parents, experts discuss high-stakes standardized test anxiety. WJCT
Schools also face consequences when their student scores are not the greatest. In the state of Florida, teacher pay is also tied to student performances on standardized tests, which puts more of a strain on the students to do well. Dr. Wendy Sapolsky, a pediatrician, says the number of children she has seen with stress-related illnesses around state testing time has grown. Between February and April, students come in with different levels of test-related anxieties with symptoms ranging from stomach aches to panic attacks.
Wren, D. G., & Benson, J. (2004). Measuring test anxiety in children: Scale development and internal construct validation. Anxiety, Stress, and Coping, 17, 227 – 240. doi:10.1080/10615800412331292606
A Children’s Test Anxiety Scale (CTAS) was developed in order to measure children’s test anxiety. This scale consists of a variety of questions on a survey for children to answer, with their responses ranging from 1-4 responses questions (1 = almost never, 2 = some of the time, 3 = most of the time, 4 = almost always). 107 items are on the questionnaire, highlighting aspects from the three dimensions of children’s test anxiety: thoughts, autonomic reactions, and off-task behavior items. Each question began with, “while I am taking tests…”.
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