What Parental Anxiety Does to Student Test Scores And what we can do about it And in the interest of full disclosure… • About Susan Micari, BCET, MS. Ed. • I was an average student in school except for the English and history classes. My parents trusted me to do my best. • My SAT scores were average by today’s standard. My parents let me take them once, and take a Kaplan course, after which my scores were exactly the same. • I was a quotidian college student in all subjects but my major, acting. I had this creative endeavor from an early age to fuel my sense of self-efficacy, curiosity, and adventure. How I got here tonight… • I was unsuccessful in theater in NYC, and bored to death with my day/night jobs including selling title insurance, selling clothing, midnight typing at a law firm, and waiting tables in restaurants and dancing in an illegal Turkish gambling den. I began a volunteer literacy program at a shelter for women and children in my early 30’s and loved it. • My acting union gave me free training in how to teach English as a Second Language and that job plus a movie voice over in which I dubbed a blond actress’s voice to Liam Neeson’s Nazi, paid living expenses and some courses in grad school at Bank Street College of Education. The scene never made the final cut but I get checks from it to this day. imsw1castneesonbig.jp thank you, Liam, (sigh) • It wasn’t until grad school that I became an A student. I had a goal, I was paying for my own education, and I was eager to become a good teacher. • I have never stopped learning. My current credentials include national Board Certification as an educational therapist, a certificate in organizational psychology, and deep involvement in several arts organizations. What we’ll learn tonight… Parental Anxiety and Student Test Score – What the research indicates Coping with our own anxiety about testing Helping anxious children build resilience What research says about learning, stress, the prefrontal cortex 2004 Study by Osburn, Stegman, Suitt & Ritter, “Parents Perceptions of Standardized Testing: Its Relationship and Effect on Student Test Scores.” • Previous studies found that “parents’ high expectations for and general monitoring of their children’s performance were positively related to academic achievement, whereas helping with homework had negative or no associations with achievement.”(78) • New study done with one high achieving school district in Arkansas, to find out what parents’ perceptions of the value of achievement testing was, what they thought their role in testing should be, and whether this related to student achievement on tests. (79) Results of the University of Arkansas Study • Study of fifth graders and the stress their parents felt about achievement tests. Researchers used the Stanford Achievement Test-9 . Fathers and mothers randomly participated with their children. • Results: “Children of parents who had most positive or negative view of the importance of standardized testing were among the lowest performers on the exam.” (88) • Children whose parents felt moderate pressure about and had moderate belief in the value of the tests averaged 30 points higher on the test. (89) Results of University of Arkansas Study • “Parents who reported feeling pressure to help their children perform well on exams had children with the lowest average scaled scores.” (87) • Same across reading and math 2007 Study by Thergaonkar and Wadkar in India: “Relationship between Test Anxiety and Parenting Style” • Maternal perfectionism correlates with test anxiety in girls • Parental worry was associated with negative outcomes for children on high school board exams • 200 mothers and 207 children surveyed. • Parental authoritarianism and control correlated with negative test outcomes. • Parental warmth and democratic parenting style was associated with positive perception of parents and acceptance of parents by children, and with an internalization of parental standards. Part 2 • What we can do at home about test anxiety in our children: Home support: Cooksey and Fondell, 1996 study: “Spending Time with His Kids: Effects of Family Structure on Father’s and Children’s Lives.” • Pre-teens whose fathers spent leisure time at home and outdoors, shared meals, helped with homework, and talked to them earned better grades, on average, than teens whose fathers spent less time with them. Vukovic, Roberts and Green-Wright 2013 study at NYU & Boston College: “From Parental Involvement to Children’s Mathematical Performance: The Role of Math Anxiety” • Parental involvement in the child’s education and parents’ valence toward school were negatively correlated with the development of math skills in 2nd grade, and positively correlated with math anxiety. • Subtle aspects of parental involvement include parent-child communication, and home support related positively for higher level math skill development. What to do about test anxiety in our children? • Put on your own oxygen mask first before assisting others. • http://takeplayseriously.org/2013/04/11/cootie-catchers-oxygen-masks-the-adults-right-to-play/ What to do? • Mindfulness based stress reduction for us, and for our children. Kabat-Zinn 1990 • Time Magazine reports in the February 16, 2015 issue that mindfulness meditation exercises result in fewer ADHD symptoms, improved focus, less depression, and better 41% of middle schoolers in study gained one stanine in standardized math testing. • Improve quality of our subtle support by managing our own anxieties for our children. Improved quality of communication • When we own our own anxiety children can detach from our fears and develop healthier coping mechanisms for their own. Owning our own anxiety • Improve quality of our home support by managing our own. • By owning our own anxieties. Beardslee, et.al. 2003 study showed that anxious and depressed parents can reduce the risk that their children will develop anxiety and depression by improving communication about, and owning their own anxieties. Improved communication about their anxieties with children helped kids detach from their parents fears, and develop resilience. When psychological help is needed • CBT is efficacious for teenagers struggling with anxiety. • Therapy for parents about learning issues or parenting strategies is beneficial. • Medication is a tool, not a cure-all, nor a danger if properly prescribed and supervised. • A psycho-educational evaluation can help define cognitive sources of anxiety in children, and educational therapy can help the child learn new ways to manage stress, test taking, and study skills. Education • Learning how to learn: it’s different than they told us. • Learning how to deal with performance anxiety: what the prefrontal cortex does, and how to get it going again when it becomes flooded by worry. • Putting distance between a history of test anxiety and the present with many small successful interventions-building a new reality together. Warmth and values at home • There is time. There is always time for children to grow up, to find their milieu and to live authentic, vulnerable, courageous lives. With average SAT scores. With a college that suits their needs at the moment that they go away. Think of the children who strive to get into reach schools and can’t survive academically or socially in them. There is a good school to suit most children. There are specialists to help us find them. • We are our children’s inner security until they can go it alone. For the secure child, a test is a test. We might even call it retrieval practice. For the child trying desperately to please, a test is a field of battle. Dealing with wounding • Parents need a safe place to grieve their own wounds when their children can’t fulfill either their own dreams or those of the parent. • These wounds are normal. • Moving through them helps us to express our love for the child we have, and free ourselves to give the right help at the right time to our families. Works Cited Beardslee, WR, TR Gladstone, EJ Wright, and AB Cooper. “A family-based approach to the prevention of depressive symptoms in children at risk: evidence of parental and child change. Pediatrics 112.2 (2003): E119-31. Web. <http://ncbi. nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12897317>. Osburn, Monica Z., Charles Stegman, Laura D. Suitt, and Gary Ritter. "Parents' Perceptions of Standardized Testing: Its Relationshipp And Effect on Student Achievement." Journal of Educational Research & Policy Study Spring 4.1 (2004): n. pag. Web. Oaklander, Mandy. “Wellness: Mini Meditators. Mindfulness and Meditation Exercises Are Helping Kids Get an Edge in the Classroom.” Time 16 Feb. 2015: 54. Print. "Parental Involvement and Children's Well-Being." FamilyFacts.org. N.p., 09 Aug. 2014. Web. 09 Feb. 2015. Theragaonkar, Neerja R., and AJ Wadkar. "Relationship between Test Anxiety and Parenting Style." J. Indian Association Child Adolescent Mental Health 2.4 (2007): 10-12. Web. Vukovic, Rose K., Steven O. Roberts, and Linnie Green Wright. "From Parental Involvement to Children's Mathematical Performance: The Role of Mathematics Anxiety." Early Education and Development 24 (2013): 446-67. Web. Resources • CUCARD: Columbia University Clinic for Anxiety and Related Disorders • Bielock, Sian. Choke: What the Secrets of the Brain Reveal about Getting it Right When You Have To. New York: Free Press, 2010. • Carey, Benedict. How We Learn: The Surprising Truth About When, Where, and Why it Happens. New York: Random House, 2014.