Standardized testing for students adds extra COVID-19 stress


"I think we can't continue to think of it in the premise of pre-COVID education," Arkansas Department of Education Secretary Johnny Key said.

BENTONVILLE, Ark. (KNWA/KFTA) — The Arkansas Education Association wants to halt standardized testing for the upcoming school year due to the ongoing pandemic and many educators agree.

Would it really be a valid measure of what they learned? Is it worth the stress on the teachers and the kids in thinking about sitting for a test like that?

Why Some Handle Stress Better Than Others_46873385-159532

It’s normal for people to experience stress every day, but adding an ongoing public health emergency — our stress levels may be causing our brains to not function well.

As cortisol rises, that fight, flight, or freeze gets triggered in your brain, which means the back of your brain can’t really talk to the front of your brain.


Bonnie King, a childhood education instructor at the University of Arkansas, said experiencing high levels of stress makes decision-making and thinking a challenge — which is going to take a toll on the upcoming school year.

“The difference this year is that there’s just so many questions and so many unknowns about what each day is going to look like,” King said. “It’s just this compounding stress that we’re going to have to deal with or it’s going to impact student learning.”

On Wednesday, August 5, during Governor Asa Hutchinson’s daily COVID-19 briefing, Arkansas Department of Education Secretary Johnny Key addressed the letter sent by educators asking to halt standardized testing due to COVID-19 and its impact on students and teachers.

“The testing requirement is a federal requirement, that was waived by the U.S. Department of Education in the spring,” Secretary Key said. “At this point, they have not issued any waivers for that and as a matter-of-fact, right now, they are not even considering waivers for the mandated testing.”

In Arkansas, we intend to proceed and follow the law. If we don’t, then it puts federal dollars at risk and that’s not good for our students.


We’re headed towards a sea of unknowns as the first day of school is right around the corner, but King urges you to just take it day-by-day and focus more on the things you can control.

“Just acknowledge that we are all feeling the stress, and there are things we can do about it,” she said. “It’s very empowering.”

King said some ways you can help reduce stress is:

  • taking care of yourself
  • checking in on how you’re feeling
  • implementing normal routines into your schedule
  • limiting social media
  • getting outside
  • talking with people around you

“If the test is going to happen, it’s going to happen,” King said. “You can only control what you can control.”

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