Spring is a beautiful time of year. Flowers bloom, the weather becomes milder and the atmosphere is ripe with excitement for the approaching summer fun.
However, for students and staff at West Ranch and across the country, spring is also a stressful testing season.
This March, CAASPP testing took place on the 22nd, 23rd, 28th and 29th for West Ranch. The state-wide standardized test evaluated students’ proficiency in science, math and english. These scores are then used by the state to analyze the school’s performance.
West Ranch junior Siddharth Sudan expressed, “It was pretty stressful because we have to spend all this time and take time out of our normal schedule to take this standardized test.”
Teachers also have had to adapt their lesson plans to accommodate the testing session that was spread over two weeks.
AP Language and Composition teacher Mr. O’Brien shared that “it devastated six days worth of instruction.”
There has also been an increase in traffic to the Wellness Center on campus due to the test anxiety.
Mrs. Phillips, the Wellness Center Coordinator, explained, “The number of students who are coming in for drop-ins is about the same, but the number of students making appointments to come to talk has skyrocketed, so when something like CAASPP testing comes up, or finals, it brings up a whole lot of other stuff, and all of a sudden resilience is down a little bit, the ability to cope with stress is spread too thin and we find a significant increase in students coming in.”
Along with this year’s state testing, students and teachers prepare themselves for AP tests starting May 2, stretching to May 13. AP test scores are mainly used to gain college course credits while still in highschool and also play a role in college admissions.
For most teachers, the biggest challenge is staying on track with their long-term plans, and being able to finish teaching all the units of their subject before reviewing for the AP test.
When asked if his classes were on track to be ready for the test, Mr. O’Brien responded: “Yes, but there’s never as much time to be as masterful as we want to.”
Many students have already begun individual preparation for the AP tests.
“Right now, I have a math test today, and I’m already stressing out about the AP tests. I’m taking the AP Lang, APUSH, and AP Psychology tests. Usually, I review books and watch YouTube videos online,” Sudan shared.
As juniors prepare for college applications, many are also taking the SAT/ACT in spring, which are standardized tests used in admission to many colleges.
It’s important to take care of your mental health in times of stress.
Mrs. Phillips emphasized that “knowing what has worked for you in the past is important. Some people like to journal and some people find that extremely stressful, so being in touch with and reflecting on what has helped in the past and trying to maintain a balance is good. Find some time everyday just to take some breaths, take a step outside, just to remind yourself that you’re doing fine, you’re hanging in there and it’s alright.”
“Then,” she continued, “if you do need to talk to somebody, turn to a friend, a parent, a family member, a teacher, a counselor, a campus supervisor, come in here. If you need to vent a little bit or get some direction, it’s totally okay to do that, because we’re all feeling [the stress] right now.”
Sudan also has his own strategy for managing test stress.
“Usually I just try to give myself a break,” said Sudan. “At any point, just relax for ten minutes or something like that.”
For all students out there who are feeling the pressure, please remember to reach out to others and ask for help. Finally, although much of it may feel like a final hurdle to cross before summer, don’t forget to enjoy spring for the wonderful season it is. The perfect break from studying might be found in a moment outside among the blooming flowers.