Economics at your fingertips  

Testing, Stress, and Performance: How Students Respond Physiologically to High-Stakes Testing

Jennifer Heissel, Emma K. Adam (), Jennifer Doleac, David Figlio () and Jonathan Meer ()
Additional contact information
Emma K. Adam: School of Education and Social Policy Northwestern University Evanston, IL 60208
Jonathan Meer: Department of Economics Texas A&M University College Station, TX 77845

Education Finance and Policy, 2021, vol. 16, issue 2, 183-208

Abstract: We examine how students’ physiological stress differs between a regular school week and a high-stakes testing week, and we raise questions about how to interpret high-stakes test scores. A potential contributor to socioeconomic disparities in academic performance is the difference in the level of stress experienced by students outside of school. Chronic stress—due to neighborhood violence, poverty, or family instability—can affect how individuals’ bodies respond to stressors in general, including the stress of standardized testing. This, in turn, can affect whether performance on standardized tests is a valid measure of students’ actual ability. We collect data on students’ stress responses using cortisol samples provided by low-income students in New Orleans. We measure how their cortisol patterns change during high-stakes testing weeks relative to baseline weeks. We find that high-stakes testing is related to cortisol responses, and those responses are related to test performance. Those who responded most strongly, with either increases or decreases in cortisol, scored 0.40 standard deviations lower than expected on the high-stakes exam.

Date: 2021
References: Add references at CitEc
Citations: View citations in EconPapers (2) Track citations by RSS feed

Downloads: (external link)
Access to PDF is restricted to subscribers.

Related works:
Working Paper: Testing, Stress, and Performance: How Students Respond Physiologically to High-Stakes Testing (2018) Downloads
This item may be available elsewhere in EconPapers: Search for items with the same title.

Export reference: BibTeX RIS (EndNote, ProCite, RefMan) HTML/Text

Persistent link:

Ordering information: This journal article can be ordered from
https://mitpressjour ... rnal/?issn=1557-3060

Access Statistics for this article

Education Finance and Policy is currently edited by Stephanie Riegg Cellini and Randall Reback

More articles in Education Finance and Policy from MIT Press
Bibliographic data for series maintained by Ann Olson ().

Page updated 2023-03-09
Handle: RePEc:tpr:edfpol:v:16:y:2021:i:2:p:183-208