Standardized Testing Causes Anxiety for Students

Jocelyn Branca

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Standardized Testing Causes Anxiety for Students

Did you know that students take 112 standardized tests ranging from pre-K to twelfth grade? Standardized testing has been a known requirement in schools ever since kindergarten. This requirement is a topic that has a wide range of different opinions. Standardized testing has been said to show how well the students have learned and comprehended the material in the class, but all it causes is stress. Annual testing causes lots of anxiety in students, which is known not to help while taking tests; it increases the chances of failing. According to Lancaster Online, “on average students have 15% more cortisol in their systems the homeroom period before a standardized test than on days with no high-stakes testing”. Cortisol is a hormone that gets produced in the body when under stress.

I have a learning disability, and standardized testing has always been a ball of stress, sadness, anger, and anxiety. This happens because the time we are given in school to learn the material isn’t enough to keep track of everything we learned.

From my experience, whenever standardized testing came around in school, I instantly started getting anxious and forgetting what I had previously learned. It made me feel inferior compared to the people in my class who were able to get the tests done like it was nothing. But so many other students had the same problem. Students can feel as if time is against them, and that causes the anxiety of failing an important test. We become so focused on trying not to fail the test that we lose all sense of anything else. We make ourselves think we didn’t do enough to pass, and we push down on ourselves so much that we reach a breaking point. Test anxiety is a type of anxiety that anybody can feel. Test anxiety causes students to have racing thoughts, headaches, nausea, the ability to concentrate, and a fast heartbeat. These symptoms can worsen a student’s performance because the student then has to worry about the test and their emotions.

Standardized testing puts an unfair disadvantage on people who have learning disabilities since so many people fail to realize that there are ways we can help those with a learning disability. An alternative way to push back on standardized testing is by getting rid of them completely. I know that schools require standardized testing grades, but if we replace the testing with individual projects, infographics, portfolios, or even an article or essays. These alternative assignments would be way less anxious to a student, especially if given the time in class to work on these assignments. These alternative assignments would lower the anxiety and stress students already have with their classes, and give them a chance to show their full potential.

On the other hand, testing can be seen as upholding an accountability system. This so-called accountability system shows that students know the material they were given throughout the year, and essentially if they pass, they know it; if students fail then they ‘didn’t try hard enough’. Raul Acevedo, a student at Chandler High, says that “Standardized testing is an even board [same playing field] for most people, it would take a while to implement something new. Imagine changing the testing for something new, it would take a while”. So while some students may be fine with standardized testing, after talking with Raul, he understood my point of view and acknowledged my opinion which I appreciate. Communication and understanding are key factors in this whole situation. 

Aaron Churchill, a writer for Fordham Institute, says that “Outside of standardized test results, no objective method exists for policymakers to identify either poor-performing schools needing intervention or high-performing schools deserving rewards.” However, do we need to prove poor-performing students? If we make those students stand out, then those students have a higher chance of self-doubt and inferior feelings. Putting students against each other in academics is the start of their anxiety and superiority. We are trying to change the way these students feel and not make them feel worse. Schools should replace this system with alternative assessments such as essays or small projects to better the anxiety. As a whole, schools need to stop doing standardized testing and replace it with a better system filled with no extra anxiety and inferiority.