High Stakes Testing, Stress and Performance: Biological Pathways

Project: Research project

Project Details


We propose a pilot study to investigate 3 questions: 1) Whether children living in higher-stress environments show fundamentally different cortisol cycles; 2) whether children with different cortisol cycles experience different biological responses to the short-term stress associated with high-stakes testing and 3) whether children with these different biological responses perform differentially on high-stakes testing. This study falls within the Education and Social Opportunity priority of Spencer, because it examines processes by which social contexts influence testing performance in ways that may help explain both socieoeconomic and racial-ethnic disparities in academic outcomes. We propose to bring together a multidisciplinary research team that includes economists and psychobiologists, with extensive expertise in high-stakes testing, program evaluation, consequences of crime and neighborhoods, and psychoneuroendocrinology.
Effective start/end date1/1/1512/31/16


  • Spencer Foundation (201500117)


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