NBC News – in Partnership with Challenge Success, a Nonprofit Affiliated with the Stanford Graduate School of Education – Releases ‘Kids Under Pressure,’

One of the Largest National Studies on Students’ Stress & the Pandemic

Study Captures Over 10,000 Students’ Views from a Range of Schools Across the Country, Revealing They Are Less Engaged with Learning, Less Connected with Teachers & Peers and Their Workload Has Increased

All This Week, NBC News Focuses on ‘Kids Under Pressure’ Across Its Platforms – ‘TODAY,’ ‘NBC Nightly News,’ MSNBC,, NBC News NOW & ‘StayTuned’

February 15, 2021 – A new groundbreaking study by NBC News and Challenge Success, a nonprofit affiliated with the Stanford Graduate School of Education, reveals the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on student well-being and academic engagement, with students saying their stress levels are rising and they feel less engaged. 

Based on surveys of over 10,000 students across a range of high schools throughout the country in Fall 2020, “Kids Under Pressure” is one of the largest national research studies shedding light on student connection, engagement and mental health when schools and society were disrupted by the pandemic. 

Throughout the week, NBC News will focus on the research findings in a special “Kids Under Pressure” series airing across TODAY, NBC Nightly News, MSNBC,, NBC News NOW and StayTunedClick here for more programming details.

See below for key insights from “Kids Under Pressure” and click here for a more comprehensive look at the study.

“It has been very detrimental to my mental health to not interact with my friends in person. This often leads to me feeling anxious and sad about not being included.” 

– 12th grade female student

  • Students, especially female and students of color, feel more school-related stress & pressure
    • 56% of students report that their stress about school has increased
    • 63% of females versus 48% of males report an increase in school-related stress
    • 63% of Black/Hispanic/Latino students versus 55% of white students report an increase in school-related stress
  • Students’ engagement with learning and effort at school is especially low now
    • 42% report a decrease in engagement in learning
    • 41% report a decrease in effort in school
  • Students report strained connections with both teachers and peers during the pandemic
    • 50% of students say the strength of their relationships with teachers has decreased
    • 47% report a decrease in strength of their relationships with peers

“I would do anything for things to go back to normal. My school is giving too much work even though times are tough for everyone. At first, this was just a break from school, but now all I feel is stress, anxiety, and pain.” – 10th grade male student

  • Students’ workload has increased
    • 51% report their time spent on schoolwork is up 
  • Mental health has increased as a source of stress for students
    • 32% of students report mental health as a major source of stress vs. 26% pre-pandemic
    • 83% of students report having at least one stress-related physical health symptom – and worse for girls: 92% for females versus 72% for males
  • Students report they’re getting much less sleep than is recommended
    • 43% of students report a decrease in their time spent sleeping
    • Most are getting only 6-7 hours of sleep, and fewer than 4 hours

*Please Credit: NBC News/Challenge Success*

Tune in tomorrow, Feb. 16 on TODAY (7-9 a.m. ET) and NBC Nightly News (6:30 p.m./5:30 p.m. CT) when anchor Savannah Guthrie speaks with high school students from her own alma mater in Tucson, Arizona about their school-related stress and mental health. Additionally, check out for a deep-dive on the differences between online-only students and those who’ve spent time in school during the pandemic.


NBC News contact:

Dana Klinghoffer

Challenge Success contact:

Kari Riedel


About NBC News

More Americans watch NBC News, MSNBC and CNBC than any other news organization in the world. NBC News’ leading and award-winning television news broadcasts include TODAYNBC Nightly News with Lester HoltMeet the Press with Chuck Todd and Dateline NBC. MSNBC is the #2 network across all of cable and the premiere destination for breaking news, award-winning content, in-depth analysis and informed perspectives. CNBC is the recognized world leader in business news and provides real-time financial market coverage, business and general news content, and primetime reality programming, consumed by more than 557 million people per month across all platforms. The rapidly-growing NBC News Digital Group – including its streaming news services NBC News NOW and TODAY All Day – and the network’s award-winning original podcast and audio unit provide continuous content to consumers wherever they are, whenever they want it.

NBC News, MSNBC and CNBC are part of the NBCUniversal News Group, a division of NBCUniversal, which is owned by Comcast Corporation. For more information about NBCUniversal, please visit

About Challenge Success

Challenge Success is a non-profit organization affiliated with Stanford University’s Graduate School of Education. They partner with schools, families, and communities to embrace a broad definition of success and to implement research-based strategies that promote student well-being, equity, and engagement with learning.

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