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News and Opinion Dec 13, 2018

Chalkbeat Speaks With Pamela Cantor, M.D. About Stress and Testing

Photo: Anthony Lanzilote

Chalkbeat National Education Reporter Matt Barnum spoke with Turnaround for Children Founder and Senior Science Advisor, Pamela Cantor, M.D., for his article, “How The Stress of State Testing Might Make It Harder For Some Students to Show What They Know.” The article reports on new research about students in a New Orleans, LA. charter school network, which, as Barnum writes, suggests that ” test scores reflect not just what students know, but how they perform under pressure.”

“What we’re in effect doing to kids who are exposed to adversity on a chronic basis is actually putting them in a highly unfair situation, where their biology may overreact to the stress and not give them a very good opportunity to reveal the things they likely know,” she said.

Cantor said that the key to buffering against adversity is having warm, positive relationships, which can prompt the release of anti-stress hormones.

“A teacher who communicates belief and confidence and inspires trust in kids — that teacher is activating a hormonal system that opposes the effects of cortisol,” she said.

Read the article here.