“Shoulders, shoulders, out, pits,” that’s the way Kristi Glasier leads her third-grade class at Roxboro Elementary School in Cleveland Heights through a stretching exercise to get their bodies and brains ready for state testing.
“They’re 8 and 9 years old, and they need to move,” she said.
It’s spring, which means for students it’s state testing season, that includes elementary kids preparing to bubble in their answers for the third-grade reading guarantee.
And in Glasier’s class, there’s no shortage of books or practice material. But she’s trying to balance her approach, focusing on the well-being of her students and their parents.
“I focus on their learning, and helping them to be engaged and positive learners,” she said.
All year, she’s been trying her best not to stress them out about the state reading test, one that could prevent them from moving onto the next grade, if they fail.
“The test is not the end all be all, you are the end all be all,” she explained to her class as they sat circled around her.
But her best attempt to de-stress is still leaving some facing the reality of their anxiety.
“I sometimes feel nervous,” said one of her students.
A 2013 New York Association of School Psychologists study showed students reported significantly greater levels of test anxiety for the high-stakes exams, and their parents are now feeling that pressure, even bringing some to tears.
“I can’t remember what time his doctor’s appointment is this afternoon, but I know the first set of testing is,” said Lisa West, whose son James Betti is in Glasier’s class.
Jessica Hattier’s daughter is in the same class and she says parents are constantly chatting about the test.
“There will be talk amongst the parents about if your child doesn’t test well,” she said.
But Glasier has a message for all her nervous parents.
“I tell the parents of my students, not to discuss their stress or the test with their children.”
Students at Roxboro Elementary are taking the test right now, if they don’t pass, they will have a chance to retake it in the summer.