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Project Overview


 Hello!  Welcome to the Stress and Testing Study.  My name is Jenni.  My team and I want to find out how stress affects students during tests.  We’ll do that by collecting spit!  We will measure the amount of the hormone cortisol in the spit.  We’ll also ask questions about things that happen during the day.  We want to find out more about what you think and feel as you take tests for school.


This study packet includes the following:


Instructions for Saliva Samples + Diary Entries

This tells you the steps you should take on each day of the study.  It can help guide you on what to do next!


Stress & Testing Study Checklist

This checklist lets you follow along to make sure that you’ve turned in everything for the study.  Check off each item as you complete it.  Everything should be given to a study team member or your homeroom teacher after you complete your last sample.


Spit Collection Boxes

The boxes contain vials.  There is one vial for every sample.  You will take six samples per day, and you will do this over two 24-hour periods.  Each vial also has a sticker or label to go along with it.  After each sample, you will fill out the date and time that you took the sample.  Then you will stick it onto the vial.


If you want to watch an example, there is a video on how to do it at: html.


Bag of Straws

You will use the straws to spit into the vials.  It’s less messy that way!  Always use a straw for the collection.


Bag for Used Straws

Once you use a straw, you can throw it away.  If there’s no garbage near you, put it into the used straw bag.


Bag for Completed Samples

Put your completed samples in this bag.  Sometimes the study team will take the samples from you instead.



This is to remind you to take your Wake+30 sample (in the pink vial) 30 minutes after you wake up.  Remember to start the timer right after you take your wake up sample.



Use this pen to write on the vials and fill out your diary.  Other pens can sometimes smear.



The diary asks you about things that happen during the day.  Fill it out when you take your spit samples.  The diary is a good way to remember when to take your next sample!


Student Health Form

This form asks you about your health.  Fill it out and return it to us when you turn in your spit.


Parent Health Form + Parent Questionnaire Envelope

This form asks your parents about your health.  Give it to them when you get home.  They will fill it out.  For privacy, they should put it in the envelope and seal it.  Then they will give it to you to return to school.


We are very happy to answer any questions you have.  Please call or email us if we can help.  The website contains frequently asked questions and videos to help.




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In addition to Jenni, we have four PIs associated with this project:


Emma Adam

(Northwestern University)

David Figlio

(Northwestern University)

Jennifer Doleac

(University of Virginia)

Jonathan Meer

(Texas A&M University)

Thank you for your interest in the Stress & Testing Study.  We’re interested in how life stress and the stress of testing affect how students feel, how they think, and what happens to their bodies.  A research team, led by graduate student Jenni Heissel, will be collecting data in a New Orleans charter school network both before and during a high-stakes testing period in the 2015-2016 school year.