Common Core Making Kids Anxious, Say School Psychologists

AP Photo/Steve Ruark

New York State school psychologists say the Common Core standards are associated with increased student anxiety, according to a new report released Friday.

Some 76% of school psychologists in the state’s nearly 700 school districts say Common Core – and the standardized tests associated with it – are associated with more anxiety than local tests, observes a report titled “Anxious for Success: High Anxiety in New York Schools,” released jointly by the New York State School Boards Association and the New York State Association of School Psychologists.

The report indicates that since the implementation of the Common Core standards and the grades 3-8 tests aligned with them, six in ten school psychologists – or 61% – said the level of test anxiety has increased among students. None of the school psychologists said the level of test anxiety has decreased since Common Core.

In addition, the survey results showed that nearly 90% of school psychologists who participated believed that teachers’ expectations contributed at least somewhat to test anxiety, and 88% percent said that parents’ expectations also contributed to students’ stress.

According to the survey, test anxiety is more common in elementary school-age children, with reports of internalized emotional symptoms – such as excessive worry and withdrawal – found to be twice as common among students as externalized ones – irritability, frustration, and acting out. Thus far, physical symptoms – such as nausea and headaches – were not found to be as prevalent as stress and anxiety among students.

The report continues that about one-third of school psychologists in the state have implemented stress and anxiety management programs in classrooms in their schools.

“This report should make all education stakeholders – from state policymakers to local teachers to parents – aware of the profound impact that they can have, both positive and negative, on student test anxiety,” Timothy Kremer, executive director of the School Boards Association, said in a statement.

Support for the Common Core standards has continued to decline since the reform has been implemented. In August, the annual Education Next poll found that only 49% of those surveyed were supportive of the standards, down from 53% in 2014, and 65% the year prior.


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