High Stakes Testing and Student Mental Health in Loudoun County

Teens are feeling stressed, with school being the main reason, according to a recent survey conducted by student journalists for Loudoun County Magazine

In a recent survey of twenty-nine self-reporting teenagers between the ages 14 to 18, many teens expressed that they are  overwhelmed due to tests and assignments. 

Findings included:

  • Over 75 percent of teens reported experiencing school-related stress in the past two weeks, while the remaining 24 percent reported “maybe.” 
  • 65 percent of surveyed teens reported that tests were their most significant stress factor, whereas 17 percent answered assignments. Other causes of stress for those surveyed included peer pressure, giving presentations, other assignments, and trouble getting along with their friends.
  • 48 percent of surveyed teens suggested schools remove standardized tests altogether as a solution to reduce  levels of stress. When asked whether  testing was an effective way to assess students’ knowledge, 46 percent said that testing was a successful way to test what teens know.
  • Teens proposed presentations, portfolios of work, and research projects as alternatives to tests to benefit the students’ mental health. One hundred percent of the teens reported in favor of portfolios of work rather than standardized testing in schools. 
  • 79 percent of the teens reported that they do not perceive good test takers as necessarily smarter than those who do not perform well on tests. 
  • 51 percent of teens reported that they perceive colleges as relying on tests to accept an applicant. Some qualities teens think should be considered during the college admission  process include responsibility, commitment to prior activities and projects, recommendations, and student interviews.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, many schools experienced a shortage of teachers. Loudoun County Magazine wanted to find out whether  this impacted student learning. Nearly 52 percent of students surveyed reported that they had experienced teacher shortage in Loudoun County. Another 31 percent of surveyed teens felt that they were not receiving all the resources they needed in order to perform well in school. 

Last, although exercise helps with relaxation, the survey found only three percent of teens exercised or played a sport to relieve stress. However,  the survey found that 44 percent of teens listen to music to reduce stress and nearly 48 percent reported planning their schedules and not procrastinating as ways to reduce school related stress.

Article by Tanvi Balaji

For information from Loudoun County Public Schools on ways to manage and reduce stress, please visit https://www.lcps.org/Page/228307

Do you have comments or feedback on this story? Email us at info@loudouncountymagazine.com

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