Impoverished families face a lot of stress. They often choose between paying an electric bill or buying food. Personal conflicts may have erupted at home. The family may be apartment hopping following evictions.
These demands might explain a child's lagging performance at school, but a recent study found that chronic stress may actually influence brain development.
The Wichita school district, trying to close its student achievement gap, is looking for ways to help children manage these stresses and boost achievement.
But this problem is bigger than any school or district, and solving it is ultimately about breaking the cycle of poverty.
The Cornell University study, reported in the Washington Post, emerged from research on how high stress levels slowed brain and memory development.
Researchers measured stress levels using a scale called "allostatic load." They based scores on stress hormone levels and on blood pressure and body mass index.
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