21 Aug 2014
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Survey: Parents Say State Testing is Hurting Young Kids

Many said the pressure to do well on state exams caused their kids to feel physically ill.

Survey: Parents Say State Testing is Hurting Young Kids

A recent survey distributed by New York principals asked 8,000 parents across the state how their kids in grades 3-8 felt about the English Language Arts and Mathematics state assessments and the response was overwhelming: it's hurting them in more ways than one.

The state recently passed legislation — the Annual Professional Performance Review (APPR) — that uses state test scores to evaluate not only students, but teachers as well. Parents said the stress of prepping for these exams for a large chunk of the school year compounded with the results impacting their teachers is overwhelming for young kids. During the exams, kids undergo six days of testing.

According to the survey, 75 percent reported their child was more anxious in the month before the test; nearly 80 percent said that test prep prevented their child from engaging in meaningful school activities, and 70 percent reported that the increased emphasis on high stakes testing has had a negative impact on their child’s school.

In addition to taking the survey, more than 4,000 parents left comments on how testing has affected their kids, and many of them said the test as well as the prep leading up to it has caused a variety of problems like:

  • Physical symptoms caused by test anxiety, including tics, asthma attacks, acid reflux, vomiting.
  • Sleep disruption, crying
  • Refusal to go to school
  • Feelings of failure, increasing as the tests progresses
  • Complaints of severe boredom and restlessness from students who finished early and were required to sit still for the full 90 minutes of each test.

One parent who commented in the survey said: "Last night's comment by my son, Max, who is in fifth grade. 'I feel too much pressure to do well on the ELA test. I have to do well to show that I know what I am supposed to know. I also have to do really well for my teachers. I really like and respect my reading and writing teachers. If all of their students don't do well, they'll get bad grades. I don't want to be responsible for making my teachers fail!'"

We went to the East Meadow Patch Facebook page to ask residents what they thought, and here's what they said.

  • Beth Markowitz Holmes: Totally agree...way too much pressure for kids and if you arent a good test taker to begin with it's terrible.
  • Susan Weiss: Totally agree.
  • Alexie Moskowski: That's me right now.
  • Robert Ingordo: My nine-year old was stressed. The only thing that was taught to them all year was for these tests. No science or history nothing. The school only cares about making their numbers look good. They don't care if these kids learn anything else.
  • Kristin Pappas: I would get physically sick the morning of the weekly spelling retest. Sure, (during the dark ages) my grade did not determine my college acceptance, nor did it affect the teacher's performance level. However, when you are in third grade..it IS a big deal. There are so many other ways to assess a child's progress! Sadly, the "bubble scan-tron sheet" has become the tool of assessing excellence.
  • Kim Jensen Nacionales: When we lived in Queens, my son got so stressed in third grade because of a teacher that put so much emphasis on the tests, that he got sick every day. He stopped getting sick the day we moved here.
  • Maxine Pollack Ahmed: Yes, I am a mom from great neck, my nine-year-old has stomach pains.
  • Jodi Zuckerman Luce: We had kids vomiting on exams because of stress this year!

What do you think of testing's impact on the stress levels of children? Tell us in the comments.

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