Poverty, Stress, Schools: Putting Science to Practice in School Transformation
Today, one in four children in the United States grows up in poverty. These children do not leave the circumstances of their upbringing at the schoolhouse door. They often bring adverse childhood experiences into schools and classrooms in the form of significant traumatic stress. This type of stress, especially in its severe forms, has unique and often profound effects on a child’s developing brain. Individually, this stress can cause children to be tuned out, preoccupied, impulsive, unable to concentrate, distrustful, and nervous. These outward signs vary from distraction to dysfunction but inevitably interfere with children’s ability to focus, interact with others, and progress in school successfully. Now imagine a whole classroom filled with children who experience severe stress, or even a whole school. The profound impact of extreme stress on a child’s developing brain can have huge implications for the way children learn, the design of classrooms, the preparation of teachers and school leaders, and what is measured as part of the school improvement effort as a whole. This issue has been under-recognized in education reform thus far but has been Turnaround for Children’s focus since it was founded more than a decade ago.
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Poverty, Stress, Schools: Implications for Research, Practice, and Assessment