Students nationwide are preparing for state and national standardized tests, and for some, this means they are already experiencing test anxiety. Whether they are in traditional, online, or alternative schools, most students are required to participate in some sort of standardized testing. While some will exercise rights to “opt out” of testing, the majority of students will test, whether it is to comply with school expectations or to have scores for college admissions. Standardized tests help educators, parents, and legislators know how students, schools, and districts are doing and what kind of support teachers may need to help students meet standards in education.
Even though the intent of standardized assessments is to improve education for students and to help them to reach their higher education goals, testing season is often a stressful time for students. They feel pressure from parents and teachers to perform their best, and this can cause them to suffer with test anxiety before and during testing. What can be done to minimize test anxiety and support students throughout the testing process?
Students who have been prepared for standardized testing will feel stronger and more confident walking in on test day. Preparation encompasses many aspects of a student’s experience. For example, students should know that they will be participating in standardized testing from the very beginning of the school year. This kind of mental preparation can help them not to feel like testing has been “sprung” on them. Coursework should align to standards, and teachers can help students to prepare for the format and expectations of the actual testing day.
At GlobalED Solutions, all families discuss testing as a part of the enrollment process. Their online curriculum meets all state and national standards for education, and they have certified and experienced teachers. Teachers also prepare test-prep videos and practice materials that help students to understand expectations. When they are feeling nervous, they can take a deep breath and remember that they have actually been preparing for testing since the beginning of the school year.
Students should know that parents and educators understand that one test is not a complete measure of a student’s worth or abilities. Students’ coursework, grades, and other academic records are also considered when evaluating a student’s achievements. For students who struggle academically, their strengths in other areas should be highlighted. They may be struggling with fractions, but they may be valued as a good friend because they are loyal and trustworthy in their relationships, or perhaps they are great at sports, baking, drawing, etc. Students should understand that testing is a measure of their education, both how they are working, and how well the system is working. Their only job is to do the best they can to answer the questions they are given.
Even when they are prepared and understand that their worth is not resting on one test, some students will still struggle with anxiety. These students can turn to relaxation techniques to help them to stay calm on test day. Breathing exercises, visualization, and helpful mantras can all be useful for students as they feel their anxiety rising.
At GlobalED Solutions, students have access to BASE, a social and emotional learning platform. Here, they can take short, user-friendly courses to help them address and deal with anxiety. They can learn and practice relaxation techniques well in advance of test day. If they need a more personalized approach, they can reach out to their personal Life Coach or schedule one on one counseling with GlobalED’s SEL partner, State of Grace.
Standardized testing is necessary, for ensuring that schools are effective in helping students meet grade level standards, for measuring student progress, and for college admissions. Students will be facing these tests throughout their education. Thankfully, there are actions that can be taken by parents and educators that can help students to do their best, even if they suffer from test anxiety.