School starting later for some high school students
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
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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."

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Why does a later start improve student performance?
Write your answers in the comments section below

  • rsull-wim4
    1/19/2016 - 01:13 p.m.

    A later start improves student performance because it will allow students to wake up a bit earlier and get any assignments done that you haven't completed. Another reason is that high school students will get a chance to sleep in. They would also get a chance to eat before they go to school.

  • kasies-nar
    1/20/2016 - 05:12 p.m.

    Students would then actually have time to sleep. Teachers give them homework but expect them to get a good nights rest, now they can actually sleep.

  • reidi-4-bar
    1/21/2016 - 10:01 p.m.

    Scientists say that it is not healthy for kids to be expected to show up to school before 8am. Seattle and 70 other schools in the Nation have decided to have a later start time for school. It is said that a later start time wont solve all health problems but it will defiantly improve a teens life. I think it is great to have a start time that is later than 8:00. HVS has a 8:25 start time and I believe that it makes for a better day.

  • hturner-cel
    1/22/2016 - 10:12 a.m.

    In my opinion it's kinda of a two way street. A later start to school will give a student more time to sleep, which is what most teens need and that's a healthy thing. It also gives the students more time to stay up to finish homework without worrying about having to wake up super early to get to school. With that being said I kind of think the longer they sleep the more sleepier they tend to be when they wake up. Research does show that it improves grades.So I'm all for getting that extra hour of sleep!

  • peterh-cam
    1/23/2016 - 02:52 a.m.

    The students can sleep more so they will improve more.

  • jungwonk-cam
    1/23/2016 - 02:53 a.m.

    It gives you more sleep which makes your brains work more easily. Also, it gives you more time to finish your assignments. If you didn't finish your assignments on time, you have to stay up more. But if we have more time in the mornings, we can finish it then.

  • sophiec-cam
    1/23/2016 - 02:55 a.m.

    High school students get to sleep in schools because they start early. So, people say that students need to start later. Starting late helps student get good grades and get well of health. In the article, student say that they didn't get enough sleepy or say they are tired. It will be improving students from getting them more sleep even it is only a hour.

  • junk-cam
    1/23/2016 - 03:02 a.m.

    Later start of the school makes the students concentrate at school class. This make the students more time to study and they have time to eat breakfast. Even there are more time for sleep. So it is a good for later start in high school.

  • cassieraes-war
    1/27/2016 - 08:34 a.m.

    Waking up later would definitely help academic success in students. I personally wake up at 7:00 and used to wake up at 6:30 to shower. I changed my schedule around so I now shower at night so I get more sleep time. If school began starting later, I could switch my schedule back to normal. Also, many students stay up late finishing their homework rather than going to bed early so, starting school at a later time would allow students to get more sleep and finish their homework on time.

  • kalistag-
    1/27/2016 - 08:52 a.m.

    well because people need there sleep they can not have with out it. and if not, then i hope you don't find your student asleep in your class room. not are falt that we have to wake up at 545ish 6ish, and even wheen you go to sleep early people still get tired.

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