Test anxiety and a high-stakes standardized reading comprehension test: A behavioral genetics perspective.


Past research suggests that reading comprehension test performance does not rely solely on targeted cognitive processes such as word reading, but also on other non-target aspects such as test anxiety. Using a genetically sensitive design, we sought to understand the genetic and environmental etiology of the association between test anxiety and reading comprehension as measured by a high-stakes test. Mirroring the behavioral literature of test anxiety, three different dimensions of test anxiety were examined in relation to reading comprehension, namely intrusive thoughts, autonomic reactions, and off-task behaviors. Participants included 426 sets of twins from the Florida Twin Project on Reading. The results indicated test anxiety was negatively associated with reading comprehension test performance, specifically through common shared environmental influences. The significant contribution of test anxiety to reading comprehension on a high-stakes test supports the notion that non-targeted factors may be interfering with accurately assessing students' reading abilities.


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