School starting later for some high school students sophomores Kendra Mitchell, second left, and Katie Benmar, sit with other first-period students in a geography class at Roosevelt High School in Seattle. The Seattle school board voted last month to adopt an 8:45 a.m. start time beginning next year for all of its high schools and most of its middle schools, joining about 70 districts across the nation who adopted a later start time in recent years. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)
School starting later for some high school students
Lexile

More school districts around the U.S. are heeding the advice of scientists.  The scientists have long said that expecting teens to show up to class before 8 a.m. isn't good for their health.  Or for students' report cards.
 
The Seattle school board voted to adopt an 8:45 a.m. start time beginning next year.  It will be for all of its high schools and most of its middle schools.  Seattle joins 70 districts across the nation adopting later start times. 
 
The movement still has a long way to go. There are more than 24,000 U.S. high schools. Supporters expect that such decisions will be made more quickly.  That's because people have mostly stopped debating the underlying science.
 
Proponents of later start times got a boost last year. That's when the American Academy of Pediatrics said that while starting later isn't a remedy for teen health and academic problems, it can improve students' lives in many other ways.
 
"Essentially, across the board, any domain that you look at improves pretty dramatically," said Dr. Judy Owens of Boston Children's Hospital.  She is author of the academy's policy statement on teen sleep. After the report, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also pushed for later bell times.
 
Research studies have shown later start times help combat sleep deprivation in teens.  They naturally fall asleep later than their parents would like. Later start times could improve academic success, attendance and mental health.  Later times also could cut sleep-related car accidents.
 
"We're going to look back on this time period and wonder why it took so long," said Phyllis Payne of Start School Later. The organization helps parents groups advocate for later bell times. She said 49 new local groups have started in the last three years.
 
The obstacles to change are mostly financial. St. Paul, Minnesota, public schools delayed the adoption of later start times for all its high school students, even after seeing great results in a one-school pilot.  That is because of transportation issues.
 
The district could not overcome parent complaints about earlier start times for elementary students.  Those times were made necessary because of the new later times for high school students. It would cost St. Paul about $8 million to add more buses, explained Jackie Statum Allen.  She is assistant director for strategic planning and policy.
 
"It would be much better to put that in the classroom rather than the gas tank," Allen said.
 
In Seattle, officials encountered the same resistance. Some parents of younger children objected when bus schedules were flipped. Their kids were put on an earlier schedule for next year. Some parents argued that later start times would get in the way of after-school activities.
 
The Seattle change was approved in part because the district listened to parent feedback on an initial proposal. That made the final plan more expensive but also more popular, said Cindy Jatul.  She is a Seattle teacher and parent and a volunteer with Start School Later Seattle.
 
An effort to move school start times in Chicago failed.  The district tried to make the change without community input. "It backfired terribly," said Jatul, who got involved in the effort in Seattle when her kids hit puberty.  As a teacher, she was facing groggy teens at home and at school.
 
Bridget Shelton is a freshman at Seattle's Roosevelt High School.  She believes the change in bell times will help her move from getting 6-7 hours of sleep to closer to 8 hours next year.
 
"I know many students that come in and are just struggling to stay awake," she said. "Many of my friends are falling asleep in class."
 
Katie Benmar, a sophomore, doesn't think the new start time will make anything better. She expects her life will just shift one hour later, from after-school activities to dinner to homework and bed.
 
"I'm going to bed at midnight and waking up at six," Benmar said of her current schedule.  It includes jazz choir after school. "I'm really tired right now."

Filed Under:  
Assigned 318 times
CRITICAL THINKING QUESTION
Why does a later start improve student performance?
Write your answers in the comments section below


COMMENTS (75)
  • annabel1226-yyca
    1/11/2016 - 09:33 p.m.

    They are so lucky. I wish and hope that my school will start later. I think it will be great to start school later. I want my school to start later because we had to do those work and we only get to rest for 2 weeks. I wish we all could rest for 1 year. If I am a president I would try to change the law. I think to go to school is a pain. I hope the president and our parents could understand our feelings.

  • autianae-ste
    1/13/2016 - 04:28 p.m.

    A later start to school will help students' grades and as well as their health. It gives the students more time to stay up to finish homework or any assignment without worrying about having to wake up super early to get to school. In addition, it gives some of the students more sleep to help them focus in school.

  • GigiSylvester-Ste
    1/13/2016 - 07:49 p.m.

    This is literally such a good idea. I absolutely dread waking up at 5:30 every morning. When students don't get enough sleep, it affects their academic performance negatively, and that's a proven fact.

  • kaytlenh-dic
    1/13/2016 - 08:33 p.m.

    A later start can improve student performance because then students can get guaranteed their sleeping time and doing what they like. If the students sleeping time is guaranteed, their mental health would improve. Therefore, student performance can be improved by a later start.

  • jacobwoms-
    1/14/2016 - 09:16 a.m.

    a later start will help kids more in the later day

  • gerardoc-612-
    1/14/2016 - 03:16 p.m.

    It helps students because teens hit the hay really late and can give you lots of rest and can improve health

  • ellerys-1-bar
    1/14/2016 - 07:46 p.m.

    A later start time allows students to get at least one extra hour of sleep each night, therefore reducing their tiredness and making them more fit to participate in school. If a student does not get a proper night of sleep, then they will not be able to function to the full extent of their ability. Students constantly have to spend long nights to finish homework or study for exams and tests, but an extra hour or so of sleep could make more of a difference in their work than any amount of studying could. If students are too tired to focus in class, it doesn't matter how much they study because they will not be able to think clearly and probably won't remember as much material as they would otherwise.

  • leilanih-4-bar
    1/14/2016 - 08:33 p.m.

    A later start improves student performance because they are more awake and will help academic success. Later start time also helps with sleep deprivation related car accidents. Many students go to sleep later than parents would like and so waking up early is hard for the student because they don't get enough sleep. I enjoyed this article because I know how tired i am in the morning and having a later start time would help me stay awake and focused in school.

  • jasminec-6-bar
    1/15/2016 - 02:03 a.m.

    A later start can help improve student performance, "Research studies have shown that later start times help combat sleep deprivation." It also has shown that besides improved academic performance, increased attendance, and even improved mental health. The later start times can even reduce, "sleep-related car accidents." The time can also give students more time to work on homework assignments and projects that students did not have enough time to finish the night before.
    I thought that the point given in the article was a very good idea and I can definetly relate to this because I do independent P.E first period and have to say that even having a little more time to sleep and time to go to school, after morning swim practice, is extremely beneficial with my performance in school.

  • amull-wim
    1/19/2016 - 01:12 p.m.

    A later start improves students performance because it will allow students to wake up a little bit later so they wont fall asleep in school.

Take the Quiz Leave a comment
ADVERTISEMENT