How is it defined?

Anxiety is characterised by feelings of uneasiness, apprehension, and fear that may be either general in nature or associated with a specific threat or event (Gregory & Eley, 2007). Anxiety is often experienced by students as test anxiety during performance evaluations, but also manifests itself in other forms such as generalised and social anxiety (Huberty, 2009). Anxiety and academic achievement are related, as anxiety becomes more severe students’ ability to perform declines (Owens, Stevenson, Hadwin, & Norgate, 2012).      

The Learning Bar’s framework on social-emotional outcomes includes measures of social, institutional, and intellectual engagement. In addition, measures of emotional health include anxiety, depression, and self-esteem.

Why is it important?

  • Students with high levels of self-concept, a self-evaluation of one`s ability, have lower levels of anxiety (Ahmed, Minnaert, Kuyper, & van der Werf, 2012).
  • Test anxiety and students’ dislike of testing, ineffective study skills, and fears of poor evaluation are directly related (Hembree, 1988).
  • Adolescents with higher levels of social anxiety report feeling less accepted and less supported by their classmates which may result in fewer opportunities for socialization (La Greca & Lopez, 1998).
  • A central characteristic of anxiety is worry, and excessive and frequent worry can impair social, personal, and academic functioning (Huberty, 2009).

How do we measure it?

Developed with the assistance of a child and adolescent psychiatrist, in both the primary and secondary Tell Them From Me® surveys students respond to questions regarding the extent to which they experience feelings or display symptoms related to anxiety. The data are scaled on a 4-point scale. Students with a score above 2.25 are considered to be experiencing high levels of anxiety, while those with scores above 1.5 but below 2.25 are considered to have moderate levels of anxiety. The results are reported as “the percentage of students with high levels of anxiety” and “the percentage of students with moderate levels of anxiety”.



Ahmed, W., Minnaert, A., Kuyper, H., & van der Werf, G. (2012). Reciprocal relationships between math self-concept and math anxiety. Learning and Individual Differences22(3), 385-389.

Gregory, A. M., & Eley, T. C. (2007). Genetic influences on anxiety in children: What we’ve learned and where we’re heading. Clinical Child and Family Psychology10(3), 199-212.

Hembree, R. (1988). Correlates, causes, effects, and treatment of test anxiety. Review of Educational Research58(1), 47-77.

Huberty, T. J. (2009). Test and performance anxiety. Principal Leadership, 10(1), 12-16.

La Greca, A. M., & Lopez, N. (1998). Social anxiety among adolescents: Linkages with peer relations and friendships. Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology26(2), 83-94.

Owens, M., Stevenson, J., Hadwin, J. A., & Norgate, R. (2012). Anxiety and depression in academic performance: An exploration of the mediating factors of worry and working memory. School Psychology International33(4), 433-449.