We live in a stressful world, and the stress is heightened for students and educators when it’s time to prepare for high-stakes tests. When test scores are tied to school funding, teacher evaluations, and students’ future placement, the consequences of these stressors can be far-reaching.
From a neurological perspective, high stress disrupts the brain’s learning circuits and diminishes memory construction, storage, and retrieval. Neuroimaging research shows us that, when stresses are high, brains do not work optimally, resulting in decreased understanding and memory. In addition, stress reduces efficient retrieval of knowledge from the memory storage networks, so when under pressure students find it harder to access information previously studied and learned.