Battling back against the "Test Monsters"

Getting kids through the stress of taking a test
March 3, 2008 9:00:00 PM PST
Today third, fourth and fifth graders took the New York State math tests. Even at that age testing can be very stressful. But a new program is helping to ease the tension and fear before students begin the test.

Education reporter Art Mcfarland has more.

We got a look today at "test monsters," drawn from the minds of third graders at Brooklyn's PS 25.

What's bad about your test monster, we asked student Nefadedha Allen. "It's evil," she says. "It makes me feel nervous."

Each student is given a blank "test monster" drawing, and then they write the words and images that reflect their own personal "test monsters".

"My heart...beating fast," says student Keikarri Gregory. "Sweaty hands, getting nervous and headaches."

Test monsters is adminstered by the not-for-profit group, "Partnership With Children," to some 8,000 students at nine city schools.

"All our fears, all of our anxiety and our nervousness and our being scared about the test is gonna be locked away," a teacher tells the calls, "So only the good feelings can come through on test day."

The drawings are placed in a "test monster box." The students really seem to enjoy getting rid of them.

This very creative method of test preparation does not end with getting rid of the test monster. Students are later encouraged to think of support systems and individuals who could help them do well on the test.

They get paper hearts, used to list their supporters.

Who is behind you, we asked student Astoria Meredith. "My parents, my family, the principals, my teacher," she answers.

"Testing Monsters helps them to release all their fears," says teacher Claudia Engel. "They let them be heard, and then they can move on and just do what they have to do."

Administrators here say the technique has helped improve test scores.