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A 'Great Escape' for Testing Week: Reducing Student Anxiety

Louisiana requires five consecutive days of testing in March for our first- through fifth-grade students. This is a very stressful time for both staff and students; fourth-grade testing is high stakes, pass or fail. As a leadership team, we try to do everything possible to not only relieve some of the stress but build anticipation and maybe even give our teachers a little something to look forward to during testing week. We believe the attitudes of happy, relaxed teachers will carry over to our students. With that in mind, we create an "escape" for our teachers during testing week. Each year's escape is based upon a theme, but we don't tell the teachers the theme in advance. We work hard to build anticipation so they look forward to their escape. One year we had a "tail-gate" party, the next year a Roman Spa retreat, and this year we did a "Halle-luau" (see photos above and below). Teachers received invitations in their mailboxes the week before that listed the refreshments we would serve daily in the room. We serve snacks Monday to Thursday of tests week. On Friday, we serve a full meal. A parent volunteer has generously donated her time to decorate the "escape" room every year, and we have another volunteer who provides relaxation treatment -- hand scrubs, aromatherapy candles, eye treatments, massage chairs, and heated neck wraps. We also have a RAT (Right After Testing) party where employees and their families are invited to celebrate. As a leadership team, we appreciate all the hard work that our staff does to make our testing week successful, and we provide the escape as a way to make the week a little less stressful and say thank you. At our school, testing week is no longer the most dreaded week of the year!


The leadership team at DeQuincy Elementary School, DeQuincy, Louisiana

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