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According to research, appropriate intervention and prevention for test-taking anxiety in

adolescents should fall under the following categories: physiological health (adequate sleep and
exercise), cognitive-behavioral techniques (which include deep breathing and visualization), and
academic skills (good study and test-taking strategies). My school-based responses focus on
prevention/intervention in the first two categories.
Three possible school-based responses are as follows:
1. Modification of school schedule to include post-lunch study hall/rest period
a. Details: Extend 30 minute lunch to 1 hour. During second half of lunch
period, students may stay in cafeteria to continue eating, socializing, or
doing group or individual study. The library will open for quiet
study/reading/research. Classrooms nearest the cafeteria will be opened up
with rotating faculty overseers (faculty who are off will have extra
planning time) for individual or group study. Rooms will be subject-
specific. Student volunteers who have excelled in their subject of choice
during the previous school year (As and Bs on report card) will be in the
appropriate classrooms to tutor on a first-come, first-serve basis (sign-up
sheets for tutoring will be available outside the appropriate classroom
starting at the beginning of the previous days study hall and continuing
until the end of the relevant study hall). Students who have signed up for
tutoring but do not show up will be skipped. Student volunteers will
receive community service hours, but their volunteership will be cancelled
if they receive a D or F in the subject in which they tutor at midquarter or
on quarterly report card. There will also be classrooms (also supervised by
rotating staff) denoted as silent, where absolutely no talking or
interaction is allowed, and in which movement must be limited, in which
individual studying or resting/napping at desks is allowed. There will be
no sign-up for these classrooms. Staff will monitor attendance levels for
subject-specific and silent rooms for the first quarter of the school year,
and classrooms may be added or removed based on usage. A letter will go
home with students at the start of the year to detail the new schedule and
procedures. The new schedule and procedures will also be detailed on the
morning announcements. Students and staff will be invited to make
comments which staff and administration will consider in their review of
the schedule after the first quarter. Necessary adjustments will be made.
b. Purpose: To increase in-school study time (whether individual or
collaborative), reduce need for at-home study time, and increase
possibility for rest/refresh time. Extended lunch/study hall could help
decrease homework, increase understanding of academic material for both
tutors and tutees, increase sleep, increase possibility for free-time,
exercise, or extracurricular activities after school, and possibly increase
performance in post-lunch academics due to possibility of relaxing and
refreshing after mealtime. Gruber (2013) writes, Appropriate use of the
knowledge regarding the importance of sleep for optimization of physical,
cognitive, and emotional functioning may significantly improve youth
performance and health (p. 62), while Daniels (2011) argues that
homework serves an important purpose in terms of helping students
review prior learning and moving their understanding toward mastery; but
it does, however, reach a point of diminishing returns (p. 36). As added
benefit, staff will rotate to occasionally have extra planning time.
2. Establish mind-body health initiative based on cognitive-behavioral theory
a. Details: In pre-school year professional day, staff will be taught cognitive
behavioral techniques that they can pass on to students, including deep
breathing and visualization. Staff will be urged to take 3-5 minutes before
the start of every test, whether state test or otherwise, to lead cognitive
behavioral techniques with students. (Scripts for leading deep breathing
and visualization techniques will be given to staff.) Hallways will be
decorated with supportive posters that bolster self-esteem, encourage
mind-body health, and downplay importance of tests vs. importance of
well-being. Decorations will also encourage healthy habits outside of
school. Examples of slogans/motivational posters may be: Relax This
is only a test, Sleep, Eat, Study, Play, Yes, you can! Keep Calm and
Believe in Yourself, Breathe Deep, Eat right, live well, You radiate
positive energy, Do it for you You deserve it. (Staff will be
encouraged to contribute to decoration/saying ideas for motivational,
self-esteem-boosting school atmosphere.)
Beginning-of-the-year school-wide assembly will focus on new mind-
body health initiative. Principal will lead school in self-modeling cognitive
behavioral techniques, such as deep breathing and visualization, as well as
self-esteem-boosting mantras. Games will be designed for interactive
portion of assembly in which students win by merely taking part in these
cognitive behavioral techniques and exclaiming self-esteem-boosting
mantras. (Staff volunteers will help create and run games.)
b. Purpose: Purpose is to provide students with mental and physical self-
regulating skills to reduce task-specific anxiety. According to Spielberger
(1972), "high test-anxious persons are characterized by acquired habits
and attitudes that involve negative self-perceptions and expectation" (as
qtd. in Lufi, Okasha, & Cohen, 2004, p. 176). Anxiety can be successfully
treated by cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) (Psychotherapies, 2014;
Beesdo, Knappe, & Pine, 2009). With this school-based response, students
will be able to approach tests with clearer minds and higher self-esteem
and self-confidence, as well as techniques to prevent or decrease test-
taking anxiety. The importance of student well-being will precede the
importance of testing.
3. Encourage teachers school-wide to decrease homework load
a. Details: Encourage teachers to limit homework to light reading (no more
than 15 minutes per day), study guides, and classwork not finished in
class. Students will be encouraged to review class notes during study hall
or at home. It will be suggested to teachers to assign homework no more
than 10 days per quarter.
b. Purpose: Purpose is similar to that of response one: to decrease student
stress outside of school and increase students time for rest/sleep, exercise,
and extracurriculars. Gruber (2013) writes that "appropriate use of the
knowledge regarding the importance of sleep for optimization of physical,
cognitive, and emotional functioning may significantly improve youth
performance and health (p. 62). Decreasing adolescent student homework
load and increasing the possibility of student sleep and physical activity
may help students perform cognitively better in school (Daniels, 2011;
Ming et al., 2011).