Ever wonder why school starts so early? (Hint: $$$) (ThinkStock)
Ever wonder why school starts so early? (Hint: $$$)
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Pediatricians have a new prescription for schools: later start times for teens.

Delaying the start of the school day until at least 8:30 a.m. would help curb their lack of sleep, which has been linked with poor health, bad grades, car crashes and other problems, the American Academy of Pediatrics says in a new policy.

The influential group says teens are especially at risk; for them, "chronic sleep loss has increasingly become the norm."

Studies have found that most U.S. students in middle school and high school don't get the recommended amount of sleep 8 1/2 to 9 1/2 hours on school nights; and that most high school seniors get an average of less than seven hours.

More than 40 percent of the nation's public high schools start classes before 8 a.m., according to government data cited in the policy. And even when the buzzer rings at 8 a.m., school bus pickup times typically mean kids have to get up before dawn if they want that ride.

"The issue is really cost," said Kristen Amundson, executive director of the National Association of State Boards of Education.

School buses often make multiple runs each morning for older and younger students. Adding bus drivers and rerouting buses is one of the biggest financial obstacles to later start times, Amundson said. The roughly 80 school districts that have adopted later times tend to be smaller, she said.

After-school sports are another often-cited obstacle because a later dismissal delays practices and games. The shift may also cut into time for homework and after-school jobs, Amundson said.

The policy, aimed at middle schools and high schools, was published online Monday in the journal Pediatrics. The policy cites studies showing that delaying start times can lead to more nighttime sleep and improve students' motivation in class and mood. Whether there are broader, long-term benefits requires more research, the policy says.

Many administrators support the idea but haven't resolved the challenges, said Amundson. She said the pediatricians' new policy likely will have some influence.

Parents seeking a change "will come now armed with this report," Amundson said.

Critical thinking challenge: How could schools overcome the obstacle of cost?

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COMMENTS (28)
  • Damikus123
    8/27/2014 - 08:40 a.m.

    Going to school early today at like 8 o' clock is the aprpiate time for students aand teachers. What the educators dont know is that it is to early wich makes student want to go to sleep in atleast 1 class period . Say for instance a student did not sleep the right amount of houe and go to school really tired, doing this really often could cause chronic sleep loss.

  • Damikus123
    8/27/2014 - 08:41 a.m.

    Going to school early today at like 8 o' clock is the aprpiate time for students aand teachers. What the educators dont know is that it is to early wich makes student want to go to sleep in atleast 1 class period . Say for instance a student did not sleep the right amount of houe and go to school really tired, doing this really often could cause chronic sleep loss.

  • tybreland
    8/28/2014 - 12:42 p.m.

    How crazy is it that you have to get up in the morning to go to school. I mean like, super early you have to put on clothes and groom yourself. It's good that they are trying to make the time to get to school a little longer,But to me it's still close to the regular time.Some people are early birds me for one I like to get up in the morning early.At least some boys and girls get to sleep in a little longer before the school starts.

  • VictoriaRuizR
    8/31/2014 - 06:15 p.m.

    Pediatricians have made a new research about school schedule. They say schools need to start classes later, because students aren't getting enough sleep. Their studies concluded that delaying the start of the school could help curb their lack of sleep, which is linked with poor health, bad grades, car crashes and other problems. The American Academy of Pediatrics suggests that schools should start classes at 8.30 because it is beneficial for those students who get up at dawn, and also for bus drivers who get up even earlier.Teens don't get the enough amount of sleep - 8 to 9 hours on school nights. That's why the policy aims to start classes at 8.30 a.m. Kristen Amundson, executive director of the National Association of State Boards of Education, said that many administrators support the idea but haven't resolved the challenges. She added that parents who are seeking for a change now have a good evidence to support their claims.
    In my opinion, schools should start at 8.30 because students who get up too early cannot concentrate so easily. As a result, they get unmotivated and therefore they don't get good grades. If we want motivated and healthy students, we should support and spread this initiative in Chile.

  • StaciC-Wit
    9/02/2014 - 10:07 a.m.

    Starting school later will make the days longer. If we start school later in the day then we won't get out of school until later. I really don't want to be at school later than I have to. I don't like starting school at 830am but I rather start at 830 then 9 because we wouldn't be at school later than we are now. We need time to ourselves.

  • BrendonO-Wit
    9/02/2014 - 10:16 a.m.

    Kids aren't getting enough sleep! schools are thinking of pushing schools to later times, due to kids not getting enough sleep. Due to school being so early, times have really cut into students work time, focus, and fun. This sleep deprivation is also causing more crashes along with more and more depression from the lack of sleep, as well as students grades. Is it really that hard schools? Just move school to a better time. Most kids don't go to sleep till 12 PM or 1 AM. So in my opinion in a way to fix this problem is just to move school to 9 or 9:30 AM. A little more sleep can help everyone a LOT! School's, just move the time just a little further. Thats all we ask, is it really that hard?




    -----------------------------------Brendon Olejnik: from Lowell High school

  • LoganW-Wit
    9/02/2014 - 10:28 a.m.

    If school started later then, yes some would get more sleep. But wouldn't we also stay up later knowing school started later? The sleep amount that students get is not to do with when school starts, but instead when the students go to sleep. If the students want to not be tired at school they should go to sleep earlier. In my opinion school times don't have to change, the time in which student decide to go to sleep should change.

  • sergio2015
    9/04/2014 - 01:44 p.m.

    They could ask the state for more money, if the state does then each county in that state should share the money equally and save more and more money over the years. When each county has enough money to fund the later starting schools for a while they will still be able to save more money from the state. They could also start more fundraisers or even hold a carnival, fair, or any other fun activity for the community.

  • darbyd-Koc
    9/05/2014 - 12:45 a.m.

    I agree with starting at a later time. While they did make valid points about after school activities, jobs, ect., I don't think that's an excuse in the least. The majority of people I know personally at school that have jobs don't have a full day of classes because of a reduced class schedule. People with clubs if they have the time to stay in the first place then they can probably spare a little more time. Most clubs I know about don't meet everyday anyway, so they could set whatever the meeting day is and make sure nothing too important is going on and if something is then they don't get to go that one time. And then there's sports. While I think it's great that a lot of students want to participate in physical activities after school, I'm sure they could do just the same as someone taking a club or discuss it with their coach. And lastly, they were talking about it mostly revolving around the costs. They need to add more bus drivers? Well, they may have a few issues figuring out how to pay all of them, but if educational institutions got a little more money put into them than the government is willing to put in now I don't think it would be such a big issue and technically wouldn't this create a few more jobs to?

  • destinys-Koc
    9/07/2014 - 06:43 p.m.

    I completely agree with this article. It is proven that students tend to do better in school when school starts later than earlier.
    I believe all schools should start later.

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