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Chicago Public Schools hold pep rallies to prepare for Standardized Tests

From: Joseph Day, Project Coordinator, Positive Action for Social and Character Development Research Project, Institute for Health Research & Policy, University of Illinois at Chicago, Chicago, IL

Eight Chicago Public Schools participating in the randomized trial of Positive Action held pep rallies to prepare their students for the Illinois Standardized Achievement Tests. Staff and students participated in skits, cheerleading, band and musical performances.

One school wrote their own affirmation to “demonstrate positive actions everyday: I will have respect for myself, empathy for others, demonstrate kindness in actions, get a good night’s sleep, eat a healthy breakfast, and arrive at school “ready to do my best on the ISAT”.

Another school presented a Powerpoint with comments from students’ thoughts and feelings on taking the ISAT, from their Skills for Greatness activity. Students expressed they were nervous or afraid, saying, “When I hear ISAT I think DOOMSDAY!” Some students felt it was unfair that the test would decide if they pass or fail while others didn’t feel any pressure because “I am Ready!” Writing these thoughts and feelings allowed students to unload their anxieties before taking the test and accordingly freed up brainpower needed to complete the test successfully—brainpower that is normally occupied by worries about the test.