School of Education


Doctor of Education in Curriculum & Instruction (EdD)


David Nelson


anxiety, expectancy-value model, high-stakes tests, No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB), standardized tests, test anxiety




Studies have shown an increase in the prevalence of test anxiety among students since the introduction of the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB) of 2001. Test anxiety has been found to significantly impact student achievement and motivation. A review of the literature indicates a gap exists in the study of test anxiety among elementary students, particularly as it relates to changes in the prevalence of test anxiety between grade levels at the elementary level. A nonexperimental cross-sectional causal comparative research design was utilized to determine the relationship between students’ grade level and level of test anxiety. The research questions for this cross-sectional causal-comparative study were based on the four measures of test anxiety as measured by the Children’s Test Anxiety Scale (CTAS). These measures consist of total test anxiety, thoughts, off-task behavior, and autonomic reactions. Participants included 45 second-grade students, 46 third-grade students, 42 fourth-grade students, and 41 fifth-grade students from two rural elementary schools located in southeastern Virginia. Data were collected and analyzed using Statistical Package for the Social Sciences (SPSS) Software with ANOVA. Statistically significant differences were found among the grade levels with third-grade students reporting the highest levels of test anxiety and second-grade students reporting the lowest levels of test anxiety. Recommendations for future research include duplicating the study to include different demographics and utilizing a longitudinal study to more accurately measure the differences in test anxiety at different grade levels.

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