Test Anxiety and Student Performance

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Test Anxiety and Student Performance

Abstract
Test anxiety is a real and measureable problem student’s face regardless of their grade or level of academic achievement. Test anxiety can also adversely affect how students participate in and view the learning process long term. This study was designed to examine the effects of test anxiety on high school students specifically, and how the stress associated with the processes or outcomes of standardized testing can negatively impact their performance. There is also a theory that contributing factors of test anxiety can also impact social anxiety. The purpose of this study is to determine if students with determined higher levels of test anxiety perform lower overall on standardized testing versus their counterparts with lower levels of test anxiety. This study also took into account the types of school, study skills, and learning disabilities as they may impact levels of test anxiety.

Test Anxiety and Student Performance
Introduction
In recent years, with the passage of legislations such as the No Child Left Behind Act, standardized testing has become an essential part of student learning from elementary school to high school levels. Due to the increase in testing, it is very important for educators, especially classroom teachers who are responsible for preparing the students for these tests, to be aware of the impact of test anxiety of student performance (Supon, 2004).  Over the last several decades, researchers have highlighted the adverse impact of test anxiety on student performance, regardless of the students' grade levels or previous academic achievement (Anastasi, 1976; Sarason, Davidson, Lighthall, Waite, & Ruebush, 1960; McDonald, 2001). For instance, Hembree's (1988) analysis of 562 studies addressing the relationship between test anxiety and student performance have indicated that test anxiety is a key factor in undermining student performance.  In the case of some students, particularly elementary school students, test anxiety can lead to the students' completing their tests quickly simply to "escape the unpleasant physical experiences" (Cheek, Bradley, Reynolds and Coy, 2002, p. 162). What is highly disturbing is that as testing becomes increasingly frequently and common in the lives of test-anxious students, their experiences of "flight or fight" responses can exert long-term effects, which will lead to a transformation of their attitude towards learning. These students may exhibit symptoms of depression, impulsivity, hyperactivity and fatigue that extend beyond the time-frame of the actual tests (Cheek et al., 2002).  This research study will provide an assessment of how high school students are affected by test anxiety. Other related characteristics such as the students' learning difficulties and study habits/skills will also be taken into consideration. Statement of the Problem

For more than a decade, educators have faced increased pressure from parents, lawmakers and the public to improve the academic performance of the students. Typically, academic performance is measured by standardized testing (Beaulieu, Hartless, & Dyk, 2001). In fact, the effectiveness of educational reforms to improve the quality of education is also assessed by the students' academic performance on standardized tests. These standardized tests have indicated that in spite of the massive educational reforms that have been implemented since the early 1980s, improvements in learning outcomes have not occurred (Orlich, 2000). While the poor academic performance of the students has traditionally been attributed to the effects of poverty, school resources, family demographics and individual ability, another factor that has been linked to poor academic performance is test anxiety. According to Swanson and Howell (1996), test anxiety not only lowers test scores, but also leads to development of self-defeating motivational, coping...
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