Several studies have indicated a significant rise in mental illness among youth particularly in the areas of depression and anxiety. Do schools collect any data related to a student’s psychological or mental health? Is data collected related to suicides and suicide attempts?

This is not data collected by CDE.


Colorado has one of the highest suicide rates in the nation. In 2012 there were 41 youth between the ages of 15-19 that took their lives. While suicide has not been correlated to testing, countries like Japan and China who have high pressure and high stakes educational systems have significantly higher suicide rates among youth. Colorado’s suicide rate increased 16.7 percent from 2012 to 2013 alone.


Dr. Gary Thompson, clinical pediatric psychologist, shared the following list gathered from peer review research:


Student concerns correlated to testing:

  • Illness
  • Anxiety
  • Decreased motivation
  • Heightened levels of stress


In a study published by Journal of Education and Training Studies, Nicole Makas Colwell, concluded “research has long indicated that test anxiety impairs student performance.”


This may explain why testing reforms have led to lowered student performance. The national average for SAT’s was 505 in the school year 1999-2000 the year before No Child Left Behind was enacted. In 2011-2012, the first class to graduate under high-stakes testing reforms, the national average dropped nearly ten points to 496.


Test reform failures go even further beyond the data. Young people are intrinsic learners; they come into this world naturally curious, with their own questions and a sense of wonder. This culture of high-stakes test reforms has shifted the direction of education. Students will learn and achieve for their own purposes, but they are much less likely to learn and achieve when the outcomes are prescribed and the purposes hijacked. Our education policies have forgotten that these are children, not data sets. They have brief and fragile childhoods and as a community we have a responsibility to honor and protect childhood as a time of joy and discovery. The greatest gains in our education system will be realized when we honor the whole child and approach learning from a place of opportunity, not punishments and sanctions.

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