Anxiety over Oklahoma third-grade testing is a red herring

by The Oklahoman Editorial Board Published: April 16, 2014
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MUCH coverage of state third-grade reading tests has focused on anecdotal claims of student test anxiety. In some instances, parents even called it “unfair” that children could be forced to repeat third grade if they failed the test.

In sports, citizens often mock the “everyone gets a trophy” mentality or refusal to keep score. But in academics, some find it shocking that officials would acknowledge any students trail their peers. Some critics take things a step further by suggesting there should be no consequence when a child isn’t taught to read.

That’s the wrong approach. Fostering an entitlement mentality provides children no academic benefit. A child’s self-esteem should be based on actual achievement, not social promotion. Self-image improves most when a child initially struggles to achieve a goal, not when “accomplishment” is handed to them.

Keep in mind, the law only prevents students from advancing to the fourth grade if they are reading at a first-grade level or lower. Such students are unable to read and comprehend a Dr. Seuss book.

Some claim “one test” shouldn’t have such consequence. They blame poor scores on “test anxiety.” But the law already provides additional methods to demonstrate reading mastery should a student fail the test. And test anxiety claims are overstated.

According to the University of New Mexico School of Medicine’s Office of Academic Resources and Support, “Test, or performance anxiety, is often related to inadequate course work preparation.” The Anxiety and Depression Association of America cites “lack of preparation” as a major cause of test anxiety. On its website, the American Test Anxieties Association states, “Test-anxious students tend to have lower study skills and lower test-taking skills.”

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by The Oklahoman Editorial Board
The Oklahoman Editorial Board consists of Gary Pierson, President and CEO of The Oklahoma Publishing Company; Christopher P. Reen, president and publisher of The Oklahoman; Kelly Dyer Fry, editor and vice president of news; Christy Gaylord...
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