The Secretary of schools officially cancels recess as part of an experiment to see if it can improve test scores, but things go wrong when the kids become slow-minded and depressed as a result.
The Secretary of schools and the President of the United States discuss how elementary school test scores all across the country are not at their best, so the secretary's solution is to cancel recess, thinking that it is a waste of valuable time and the students can use that time to study more. The president thinks that canceling recess could be a mighty tall order, but the secretary still insists, so the president suggests that he uses a pilot school to test his theory. The secretary has the Sal 9000 Super Computer make a random selection on what school to use and Third Street School is the chosen school. While Principal Prickly is in his office practicing golf, he receives a call from the Secretary of schools to tell him about his plan to cancel recess to improve test scores, which Principal Prickly thinks is a clever idea. After he goes out to the playground to tell the students, they get frustrated.
The next day, Spinelli suggests that the students all get together and protest, but T.J. decides to do nothing because protesting against the secretary of schools would be unpatriotic, which is something he doesn't want to be. Two government agents Barnes and Noble come in to give the students their first standardized test. Meanwhile, Miss Finster gets bored, sitting in Miss Lemon's office watching her work. After the agents collect their tests, they tell the class that they'll be back tomorrow to give them another test. After they leave, Miss Grotke decides to use a paper football to teach her class the laws of physics, much to the students' delight as they'll get some recreation until the agents come back to tell her that they'd like a word with her and they tell her to bring the paper football. They also begin to assert their authority, by sealing the staff bathroom door shut due to overuse.
As the school continues going through the secretary's experiment, the students get stressed to a point where they lose focus, which causes his experiment to give him the opposite results of what he expected. The students' test scores plummet to the lowest that he has ever seen, so he calls Noble & Barnes and asks them to interview the students one by one to find out why their scores are so low, but while their interviews are being secretly videotaped, they're too out of it to answer the agents' questions, much to the secretary's frustration while watching the interviews on T.V. as he didn't receive any answers, but his assistant suggests that they should let them have a small dose of what their minds want, which is a time in the day where they can go outside for some fresh air, which gives the secretary an idea and tells his assistant to get the gold breakers on the think tank busy right away.
The secretary tells the president that he came up with a new pilot program that should help the students improve their test scores. The new program allows to the students to have short daily periods of outdoor time where they can do as they please. He calls the program Reversing Effects of Continuous Educational Stress Syndrome which spells recess, but the secretary pronounces it wreck-is. The president likes it, hoping that it will work.
Back at the school, the agents give the class another test with the students still depressed. Miss Lemon gets annoyed with Miss Finster for being a distraction to her while she works, so they start to challenge each other to a duel until Miss Lemon gets a phone call from the secretary of schools and transfers him to Principal Prickly. The secretary tells him about his new recess (wreck-is) program, which he thinks is a brilliant idea. Principal Prickly tells the students over the intercom to put down their #2 pencils and go outside because recess (wreck-is) begins now. When the students go outside, they notice the sun up in the sky, which catches their attention, cheering them up, and getting them refocused. The secretary reports to the president that the students' test scores are back to normal with both of them happy that the recess (wreck-is) program did the trick.
- Animation/continuity error: When Vince hands his test back to Agent Noble, it is seen already graded before it was actually graded.
- Coloring/continuity error: When Vince tells T.J. that he has to have a plan, his entire arm is colored gray.
- Animation/consistency error: The kindergartners' playground is missing from the side of the school in a few shots.
- The events of this episode later on lead-up to the events in Recess: School's Out.
- Interesting enough, Recess was canceled at Third Street School by the Secretary of Education.
- Also, Prickly and Muriel's reactions of recess being canceled were similar to the movie.
- In addition, a Recess fan should take this episode separately from any continuity in Recess (to say nothing of the film, Recess: School's Out) to enjoy it in its own right because there is no logical way it could have happened.
- The use of not saturated color when recess is cancelled is meant to represent the loss of hope in the children via color language. Once "RECESS" is instigated, the color quickly re-saturates to represent their return to normal.
- This is one of the very few times where God is mentioned on a Disney television series (with Gus' line, "Was that...God?"). The other show where God was mentioned was in 101 Dalmatians: The Series.
- In the United States, this is the first aired episode to use digital ink-and-paint animation instead of traditional animation.
- This is the only episode with animation from Anivision.
- Agents Barnes & Noble appear to be based on Agents Mulder and Scully from the X-Files series.
- Their names are also an allusion to a book company Barnes & Noble.
- They are also based on Agent K and Agent L from the Men in Black series in personality (Barnes for Agent K) and appearance (Noble for Agent L); coincidentally, Agent Barnes' voice actor Gregg Berger was known to voice Agent K in Men in Black: The Series.
- T.J. Detweiler - Andrew Lawrence
- Vince LaSalle - Rickey D'Shon Collins
- Ashley Spinelli - Pamela Segall-Adlon
- Gretchen Grundler - Ashley Johnson
- Mikey Blumberg - Jason Davis
- Gus Griswald - Courtland Mead
- Miss Finster - April Winchell
- Miss Grotke - Allyce Beasley
- Principal Prickly - Dabney Coleman
- Miss Lemon/Agent Noble - Tress MacNeille
- Gordy - Klee Bragger
- Coach Kloogey - Paul Willson
- Mr. Dunn - Frank Welker
- President - John Forsythe
- Secretary of Education/Agent Barnes/Steves - Gregg Berger