so, when a student has a testing problem (and there are one million different things that contribute to testing anxiety), i remove him from the testing environment entirely (whether he has an accommodation or not, i don't care), and experiment w/places he feels most comfortable.
i've had my intern test ppl at starbucks. i'll try big rooms. i'll try small rooms. i play with noise levels. when we find a calming space, i find a calming staff member that he trusts (i try to, anyway) who is willing to sit w/him (to encourage breaks, reassure, etc).
when i first started "optimal environmenting" lol, the pragmatist in my worried that my coddling would create unreal expectations for students who'd ultimately have to test elsewhere (like for the GED). in the back of my mind i worried that i was creating conditions that were
impossible to replicate. but some of my students had such debilitating anxiety they were ROUTINELY shitting out scores that weren't even CLOSE to being reflective of their overall understanding and capabilities. so i was like, "fuck it. let's baby them up. can't be any worse."
turns out, AFTER they start performing on par with their actual knowledge base, the overwhelming majority of them need the frills less and less. all they REALLY need is to know that they can actually take and do well on a test.
a few mos in, most of them will only need to test alone (sans toys, sans picture perfect testing space).
quite a few can be reintegrated into group testing (with the aid of a single gadget/knickknack).
i'm actually super proud of it.
bear in mind, i only started all of this b/c my boss at the time had to have a sit down with me about not being a dick and opening my eyes.
i didn't even believe in testing anxiety when i took this job.
she would bring me these magazines and be like, "do you want me to buy you these toys for your testers?" and i'd be like, "the fuck do grown ass ppl need toys for? no. absolutely not."
4.5 years later, i'm sitting here writing detailed instructions for someone who's testing my kid tomorrow.
i legit have a plan A ANNND B (in the event of a disaster).
i've come a mighty long way.
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