David Snyder

Stressed out: New research explores the impact of stress on achievement

A new study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences looks at the connection between poverty and achievement and finds that higher stress levels associated with poverty have a negative impact on some cognitive functions.

Science blog The Frontal Cortex summarizes the findings:

The scientists measured stress by looking at the "allostatic load" of the subjects when age 9 and 13, which is based on variables like blood pressure and levels of stress hormone, such as cortisol and norepinephrine. When the children were 17, they were given a simple test that measures working memory, which in this case meant temporarily remembering a sequence of random digits...The scientists uncovered a statistically significant link: the longer children had been poor, the worse their working memory. Furthermore, levels of chronic stress seemed to be the causal factor.

The findings of this study reinforce the message of the Whole Child Initiative: that we must work to ensure every child is healthy, safe, supported, challenged, and engaged. Stressed-out kids will find it harder to learn and thrive, whether they're hungry, feel unsafe, or lack a supportive adult to turn to. 

What is your school doing to combat stress?


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