Do Schools Begin Too Early?

Education Next Issue Cover

The effect of start times on student achievement


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SUMMER 2012 / VOL. 12, NO. 3

What time should the school day begin? School start times vary considerably, both across the nation and within individual communities, with some schools beginning earlier than 7:30 a.m. and others after 9:00 a.m. Districts often stagger the start times of different schools in order to reduce transportation costs by using fewer buses. But if beginning the school day early in the morning has a negative impact on academic performance, staggering start times may not be worth the cost savings.

Proponents of later start times, who have received considerable media attention in recent years, argue that many students who have to wake up early for school do not get enough sleep and that beginning the school day at a later time would boost their achievement. A number of school districts have responded by delaying the start of their school day, and a 2005 congressional resolution introduced by Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-CA) recommended that secondary schools nationwide start at 9:00 or later. Despite this attention, there is little rigorous evidence directly linking school start times and academic performance.

In this study, I use data from Wake County, North Carolina, to examine how start times affect the performance of middle school students on standardized tests. I find that delaying school start times by one hour, from roughly 7:30 to 8:30, increases standardized test scores by at least 2 percentile points in math and 1 percentile point in reading. The effect is largest for students with below-average test scores, suggesting that later start times would narrow gaps in student achievement.

The primary rationale given for start times affecting academic performance is biological. Numerous studies, including those published by Elizabeth Baroni and her colleagues in 2004 and by Fred Danner and Barbara Phillips in 2008, have found that earlier start times may result in fewer hours of sleep, as students may not fully compensate for earlier rising times with earlier bedtimes. Activities such as sports and work, along with family and social schedules, may make it difficult for students to adjust the time they go to bed. In addition, the onset of puberty brings two factors that can make this adjustment particularly difficult for adolescents: an increase in the amount of sleep needed and a change in the natural timing of the sleep cycle. Hormonal changes, in particular, the secretion of melatonin, shift the natural circadian rhythm of adolescents, making it increasingly difficult for them to fall asleep early in the evening. Lack of sleep, in turn, can interfere with learning. A 1996 survey of research studies found substantial evidence that less sleep is associated with a decrease in cognitive performance, both in laboratory settings and through self-reported sleep habits. Researchers have likewise reported a negative correlation between self-reported hours of sleep and school grades among both middle- and high-school students.

I find evidence consistent with this explanation: among middle school students, the impact of start times is greater for older students (who are more likely to have entered adolescence). However, I also find evidence of other potential mechanisms; later start times are associated with reduced television viewing, increased time spent on homework, and fewer absences. Regardless of the precise mechanism at work, my results from Wake County suggest that later start times have the potential to be a more cost-effective method of increasing student achievement than other common educational interventions such as reducing class size.

Wake County

The Wake County Public School System (WCPSS) is the 16th-largest district in the United States, with 146,687 students in all grades for the 2011–12 school year. It encompasses all public schools in Wake County, a mostly urban and suburban county that includes the cities of Raleigh and Wake Forest. Start times for schools in the district are proposed by the transportation department (which also determines bus schedules) and approved by the school board.

Wake County is uniquely suited for this study because there are considerable differences in start times both across schools and for the same schools at different points in time. Since 1995, WCPSS has operated under a three-tiered system. While there are some minor differences in the exact start times, most Tier I schools begin at 7:30, Tier II schools at 8:15, and Tier III at 9:15. Tiers I and II are composed primarily of middle and high schools, and Tier III is composed entirely of elementary schools. Just over half of middle schools begin at 7:30, with substantial numbers of schools beginning at 8:00 and 8:15 as well. The school day at all schools is the same length. But as the student population has grown, the school district has changed the start times for many individual schools in order to maintain a balanced bus schedule, generating differences in start times for the same school in different years.

The only nationally representative dataset that records school start times indicates that, as of 2001, the median middle-school student in the U.S. began school at 8:00. More than one-quarter of students begin school at 8:30 or later, while more than 20 percent begin at 7:45 or earlier. In other words, middle school start times are somewhat earlier in Wake County than in most districts nationwide. The typical Wake County student begins school earlier than more than 90 percent of American middle-school students.

Data and Methods

The data used in this study come from two sources. First, administrative data for every student in North Carolina between 2000 and 2006 were provided by the North Carolina Education Research Data Center. The data contain detailed demographic variables for each student as well as end-of-grade test scores in reading and math. I standardize the raw test scores by assigning each student a percentile score, which indicates performance relative to all North Carolina students who took the test in the same grade and year. The second source of data is the start times for each Wake County public school, which are recorded annually and were provided by the WCPSS transportation department.

About 39 percent of WCPSS students attended magnet schools between 2000 and 2006. Since buses serving magnet schools must cover a larger geographic area, ride times tend to be longer for magnet school students. As a result, almost all magnet schools during the study period began at the earliest start time. Because magnet schools start earlier and enroll students who tend to have higher test scores, I exclude magnet schools from my main analysis. My results are very similar if magnet school students are included.

The data allow me to use several different methods to analyze the effect of start times on student achievement. First, I compare the reading and math scores of students in schools that start earlier to the scores of similar students at later-starting schools. Specifically, I control for the student’s race, limited English status, free or reduced-price lunch eligibility, years of parents’ education, and whether the student is academically gifted or has a learning disability. I also control for the characteristics of the school, including total enrollment, pupil-to-teacher ratio, racial composition, percentage of students eligible for free lunch, and percentage of returning students. This approach compares students with similar characteristics who attend schools that are similar, except for the fact that some schools start earlier and others start later.

The results produced by this first approach could be misleading, however, if middle schools with later start times differ from other schools in unmeasured ways. For example, it could be the case that more-motivated principals lobby the district to receive a later start time and also employ other strategies that boost student achievement. If that were the case, then I might find that schools with later start times have higher test scores, even if start times themselves had no causal effect.

To deal with this potential problem, my second approach focuses on schools that changed their start times during the study period. Fourteen of the district’s middle schools changed their start times, including seven schools that changed their start times by 30 minutes or more. This enables me to compare the test scores of students who attended a particular school to the test scores of students who attended the same school in a different year, when it had an earlier or later start time. For example, this method would compare the test scores of students at a middle school that had a 7:30 start time from 1999 to 2003 to the scores of students at the same school when it had an 8:00 start time from 2004 to 2006. I still control for all of the student and school characteristics mentioned earlier.

As a final check on the accuracy of my results, I perform analyses that compare the achievement of individual students to their own achievement in a different year in which the middle school they attended started at a different time. For example, this method would compare the scores of 7th graders at a school with a 7:30 start time in 2003 to the scores of the same students as 8th graders in 2004, when the school had a start time of 8:00. As this suggests, this method can only be used for the roughly 28 percent of students in my sample whose middle school changed its start time while they were enrolled.


My first method compares students with similar characteristics who attend schools that are similar except for having different start times. The results indicate that a one-hour delay in start time increases standardized test scores on both math and reading tests by roughly 3 percentile points. As noted above, however, these results could be biased by unmeasured differences between early- and late-starting schools (or the students who attend them).

Using my second method, which mitigates this bias by following the same schools over time as they change their start times, I find a 2.2-percentile-point improvement in math scores and a 1.5-point improvement in reading scores associated with a one-hour change in start time.

My second method controls for all school-level characteristics that do not change over time. However, a remaining concern is that the student composition of schools may change. For example, high-achieving students in a school that changed to an earlier start time might transfer to private schools. To address this issue, I estimate the impact of later start times using only data from students who experience a change in start time while remaining in the same school. Among these students, the effect of a one-hour later start time is 1.8 percentile points in math and 1.0 point in reading (see Figure 1).

These estimated effects of changes in start times are large enough to be substantively important. For example, the effect of a one-hour later start time on math scores is roughly 14 percent of the black-white test-score gap, 40 percent of the gap between those eligible and those not eligible for free or reduced-price lunch, and 85 percent of the gain associated with an additional year of parents’ education.

The benefits of a later start time in middle school appear to persist through at least the 10th grade. All students in North Carolina are required to take the High School Comprehensive Test at the end of 10th grade. The comprehensive exam measures growth in reading and math since the end of grade 8 and is similar in format to the end-of-grade tests taken in grades 3–8. Controlling for the start time of their high school, I find that students whose middle school started one hour later when they were in 8th grade continue to score 2 percentile points higher in both math and reading when tested in grade 10.

I also looked separately at the effect of later start times for lower-scoring and higher-scoring students. The results indicate that the effect of a later start time in both math and reading is more than twice as large for students in the bottom third of the test-score distribution than for students in the top third. The larger effect of start times on low-scoring students suggests that delaying school start times may be an especially relevant policy change for school districts trying to meet minimum competency requirements (such as those mandated in the No Child Left Behind Act).

Why Do Start Times Matter?

The typical explanation for why later start times might increase academic achievement is that by starting school later, students will get more sleep. As students enter adolescence, hormonal changes make it difficult for them to compensate for early school start times by going to bed earlier. Because students enter adolescence during their middle-school years, examining the effect of start times as students age allows me to test this theory. If the adolescent hormone explanation is true, the effect of school start times should be larger for older students, who are more likely to have begun puberty.

I therefore separate the students in my sample by years of age and estimate the effect of start time on test scores separately for each group. In both math and reading, the start-time effect is roughly the same for students age 11 and 12, but increases for those age 13 and is largest for students age 14 (see Figure 2). This pattern is consistent with the adolescent hormone theory.

To further investigate how the effect of later start times varies with age, I estimate the effect of start times on upper elementary students (grades 3–5). If adolescent hormones are the mechanism through which start times affect academic performance, preadolescent elementary students should not be affected by early start times. I find that start times in fact had no effect on elementary students. However, elementary schools start much later than middle schools (more than half of elementary schools begin at 9:15, and almost all of the rest begin at 8:15). As a result, it is not clear if there is no effect because start times are not a factor in the academic performance of prepubescent students, or because the schools start much later and only very early start times affect performance.

Of course, increased sleep is not the only possible reason later-starting middle-school students have higher test scores. Students in early-starting schools could be more likely to skip breakfast. Because they also get out of school earlier, they could spend more (or less) time playing sports, watching television, or doing homework. They could be more likely to be absent, tardy, or have behavioral problems in school. Other explanations are possible as well. While my data do not allow me to explore all possible mechanisms, I am able to test several of them.

I find that students who start school one hour later watch 12 fewer minutes of television per day and spend 9 minutes more on homework per week, perhaps because students who start school later spend less time at home alone. Students who start school earlier come home from school earlier and may, as a result, spend more time at home alone and less time at home with their parents. If students watch television when they are home alone and do their homework when their parents are home, this behavior could explain why students who start school later have higher test scores. In other words, it may be that it is not so much early start times that matter but rather early end times.

Previous research tends to find that students in early-starting schools are more likely to be tardy to school and to be absent. In Wake County, students who start school one hour later have 1.3 fewer absences than the typical student—a reduction of about 25 percent. Fewer absences therefore may also explain why later-starting students have higher test scores: students who have an early start time miss more school and could perform worse on standardized tests as a result.


Later school start times have been touted as a way to increase student performance. There has not, however, been much empirical evidence supporting this claim or calculating how large an effect later start times might have. My results indicate that delaying the start times of middle schools that currently open at 7:30 by one hour would increase math and reading scores by 2 to 3 percentile points, an impact that persists into at least the 10th grade.

These results suggest that delaying start times may be a cost-effective method of increasing student performance. Since the effect of later start times is stronger for the lower end of the distribution of test scores, later start times may be particularly effective in meeting accountability standards that require a minimum level of competency.

If elementary students are not affected by later start times, as my data suggest (albeit not definitively), it may be possible to increase test scores for middle school students at no cost by having elementary schools start first. Alternatively, the entire schedule could be shifted later into the day. However, these changes may pose other difficulties due to child-care constraints for younger students and jobs and afterschool activities for older students.

Another option would be to eliminate tiered busing schedules and have all schools begin at the same time. A reasonable estimate of the cost of moving start times later is the additional cost of running a single-tier bus system. The WCPSS Transportation Department estimates that over the 10-year period from 1993 to 2003, using a three-tiered bus system saved roughly $100 million in transportation costs. With approximately 100,000 students per year divided into three tiers, it would cost roughly $150 per student each year to move each student in the two earliest start-time tiers to the latest start time. In comparison, an experimental study of class sizes in Tennessee finds that reducing class size by one-third increases test scores by 4 percentile points in the first year at a cost of $2,151 per student per year (in 1996 dollars). These calculations, while very rough, suggest that delaying the beginning of the school day may produce a comparable improvement in test scores at a fraction of the cost.

Finley Edwards is visiting assistant professor of economics at Colby College.

For more on this topic, please read “Time for School? When the snow falls, test scores also drop

Comment on this article
  • Terra Ziporyn Snider, Ph.D. says:

    The question here isn’t whether schools should start later but how to make that happen. Pinpointing academic gains of any individual educational change is tough, but the data on the health effects of these hours has been crystal clear for years. It’s politics, not lack of evidence, that undermine local change. We need a fundamentally new approach to addressing this issue, one recognizing that this is at heart an issue of public health and safety. For more information, see and the national online petition ( that galvanzied this growing national coalition.

  • Judith Fogel says:

    I agree with Terra. We have explored this question in depth in the last ten years. It is now high time to move beyond the question and just establish that yes, schools do begin too early, and it’s finally time to actively seek ways to change that. If we keep asking IF they begin too early, we are going in circles.

    School districts often make decisions based on ideology rather than sound science. And yes, it’s important to establish a link between academic performance and more sleep. But we can’t just stop there.

    As Terra points out, finding good hard data on increased performance is difficult. And what about the kids who stagger into school half asleep, nod off at their desks during first period, and yet still pull all A’s? Shall we conclude there are no deleterious effects of sleep deprivation here? Of course not. It’s not enough to just make it about scores. It’s about the very lives and health of our children.

    At the heart of the matter is the health component. We have clear established research on teen sleep and their biological clocks. We KNOW that many teens cannot fall asleep early and therefore their sleep is severely compromised when that alarm clock chimes in the dark the next morning. We already know the ill effects of prolonged sleep deprivation. It leads to depression, obesity, distraction, and is often linked to risky behaviors in teens such as drowsy driving, drinking and drugs. This is no way for a youngster to live her most formative years.

    As Terra says, it’s politics, not lack of evidence, that creates barriers to change. The science is there. Is the willpower?

  • […] Do Schools Begin Too Early? (Summer 2012) 12 Educationnext 3. [this article is based upon Edwards’ working paper, […]

  • […] school and high school students, new research by Finley Edwards featured at Education Next suggests it may actually be better to let them sleep in a little longer, especially the underperforming students. After looking at schools and student results in Wake […]

  • Jeffrey Miller says:

    In my district, the bus schedule rules all. Or so I am told. Terra knows what she is talking about. My school starts at 730 and it’s just sad. I can’t fight hormones and social conditioning. It’s inhumane to even try. You reformers should pay more attention to cognitive science and human psychology and less to political ideology and corporate demands.

  • […] I find evidence consistent with this explanation: among middle school students, the impact of start times is greater for older students (who are more likely to have entered adolescence). However, I also find evidence of other potential mechanisms; later start times are associated with reduced television viewing, increased time spent on homework, and fewer absences. Regardless of the precise mechanism at work, my results from Wake County suggest that later start times have the potential to be a more cost-effective method of increasing student achievement than other common educational interventions such as reducing class size.                                                                                             […]

  • […] pp. 1, 18-19.) Edwards summarizes his findings in the Harvard Journal, Education Next. (Edwards, Do Schools Begin Too Early? (Summer 2012) 12 Education Next […]

  • […] Med. Assn. 21, p. 2200.) Wahlstrom‘s assertion appears to be well-supported. (See, e.g., Edwards, Do Schools Begin Too Early? (Summer 2012) 12 Education Next 3; Carrell, Maghakian, & West, A’s from Zzzz’s? The Causal […]

  • […] Times on Academic Performance, supra, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, p. 20; Edwards, Do Schools Begin Too Early? (Summer 2012) 12 Education Next 3.) Brookings Institute economists estimate that moving start times […]

  • […] and 1 percentile point in reading, according to a North Carolina study by economist Finley Edwards described in Education Next. Students get more sleep and have fewer absences. Another benefit of late start is that with less […]

  • […] than enhance, academic achievement, particularly for disadvantaged students. (See, e.g., Edwards, Do Schools Begin Too Early? (Sum. 2012) 12 Education Next 3; Jacob & Rockoff, Organizing Schools to Improve Student […]

  • Annette Whelan says:

    I agree with Terra. For over 5 years now there has been a group called PALS (Parent Advocates for a Later Start) who have been trying to get the Northshore School District in Washington State to change their High School Start time from 7.10 a.m.!! It is one of the earliest start times in the district and looks like being one of the earliest in the country. This is all about saving money on Transportation costs at the expense of our children. We need change and we need it NOW!!

  • […] Edwards, Ph.D., Visiting Assistant Professor of Economics, Colby College. (Edwards, Do Schools Begin Too Early? (Sum. 2012) 12 Education Next […]

  • Matt says:

    It always amazes me that in discussions and research into start times that only there is only passing mention of sports and other after school activities. Sports has a huge influence on the schedule and lives of youths, and it is not that much of a stretch to say that sports has a disproportionate impact on how American schools, especially secondary schools are run. If middle and high schools were to start later, there would be no time for outdoor practices in some parts of the country before darkness sets in, especially after the clocks change in the fall. If you want to start schools to start later, you must confront the roll of sports in academics.

  • TiredHighSchoolStudent says:

    Yes, school boards can know about the science, the ‘clocks’ and hormones of students, behind students’ sleeping habits, but does that mean they will acknowledge and reciprocate for that? My school certainly doesn’t. As to the sports thing, those students CHOSE to be in that sport, the percentage of students choosing to participate in a sport being very small, at least at my school, compared to those students who do not. Why should the majority have to pay the price (loss of VALUABLE sleep time) for the minority? It doesn’t make sense to me.

  • […] of Adolescents (Aug. 2011) 3 Am. Economic J.: Economic Policy 3, pp. 62-81; Edwards, Do Schools Begin Too Early? (Sum. 2012) 12 Education Next 3.) The four-year study by Carrell, et al., supra, found “that […]

  • Linda says:

    While the evidence appears very strong for starting high school at a later time so teens can get the extra sleep they need, I wonder about the impact technology has had on the high schoolers not getting enough sleep. With the advent of cell phones (and almost all teens now have cell phones), I suspect a great many teens are staying up late texting/socializing on their electronic devices. In generations past, if teens wanted to talk to their friends, they had to use the “house” phone in whichever room that phone was attached to the jack…often the kitchen or living room. Parents often had more say/control in the amount of phone time the teens had with their friends.

    I believe there is also a plethora of sleep research that suggests turning off all electronics – televisions, cell phones, etc. – allow us to sleep deeper and longer than if we have lights and/or sounds interrupting our deeper sleep.

    Just some thoughts from an educator…

  • student says:

    Yay later times

  • Collin Busing says:

    i am currently a student at byron center high school in byron center michigan and our school is about to adopt changing start times on wednesdays… as a student i believe this will something great and i am currently writing a research paper for my english class on this exact topic.. i feel that the later starting times will be beneficial to teenagers who need their sleep these days… but i do feel some students will take advantage of the opportunity and stay up later, making this idea a total wash! therefore this is both good and bad for schools.

  • maddie says:

    i also agree myself i am a 14 year old student , and i wake up every morning at 6:00 every day (Monday thru Friday) and my school starts at 8:00 and i feel very tried throughout the day because of how early my school starts, also my grades reflect on me because of i don’t get enough sleep. also i have noticed that when my school dose start late sometimes everyone of my classmates have a good positive attitude and i is much nicer . so yes i do feel that my school and every school should start school by at least 9:00 and no later than that time. i am also for wake county and i go to east wake academy and it is a very nice school so please come vist and join the school:)

  • dw says:

    Does anyone have a historical explanation for why US public schools start so early?

    Where I live (with my two children) elementary school starts at 8:15 and middle school at 8:25. High school (which is a separate district) starts most days as 7:45). Buses would not seem to provide an adequate explanation for these times.

    By contrast, where I grew up in England, the school day never started earlier than 9. There are no school bus systems in England: you walk, get a ride, bike, or take public transport.

    Did early times come in with the bus systems? It does seem counterintuitive. Most adult jobs are on more of a 9-5 schedule: surely it would make more sense to align school and work better?

  • Jenny says:

    I guess that it would be better but there would be no time for sports after school…

  • jade nunyabuisiness says:

    we are doing a project on this in school and i think i am changing my argument. i originally thought it should start later, but then faced the problem of no time for after school activities. WHAT EVA SHALL I DO?!?!?!

  • student says:

    i think school should stay the same such as 7:30. my mom has to be at work at 8:00 and i go to a catholic school and at my school we do not have buses ! some teen will take , later times a complete wish yes sometimes im tired when i wake up early in the morning, but sometimes you have to deal with it. think about people jobs and after school jobs some parents depend on a second income from a teen

  • Jazzi says:

    I think this article is a good article but, it needs more infomation! That will help a reader know about what is going on and why we start school so early. Also the elementry schools start later just because the buses.

  • S Simera says:

    It is wise to bring up sports, since that is a common reason some schools and communities decide not to look closer at the science of teen biology. However the best thing is to talk to Athletics Directors in schools that moved to later start times – I did – and I was pleasantly surprised that ADs from Ohio to Rhode Island to Kentucky told me that it worked out fine, in fact one AD told me that moving high school to 8:30 am was ‘one of the best things their school ever did’. In fact, wise ADs advocate for later school start times because athletes who get more sleep perform better and sustain fewer injuries. It’s win/win, actually.

  • kadin!!! says:

    well im sitting in schools right nowand watching my friend sleep cuz he didnt sleep that good soo yeah

  • Nick says:

    First, Ms. Terra has a great point about the starting of schools having to do with ideology and not cold hard scientific facts. Next, the main reason for star times being so early is like dw said, we have transportation where as us that have lived in England didn’t get school transportation. Having gone to school in England and now here in the USA there are big differences. Yes, it would be great for us students to get that one to two extra hours of sleep but how can we do this if other students will abuse these extra hours? I myself am in Soccer and stay after to practice until 6pm most days, I get home and do my chores and homework. Others would come on get on their phone, computer etc., they would stay up later if they had that extra hour or two. So with the pros of getting a better attention span at school etc., you also have the cons wherein students will just still blow school off and stay up even later.

  • Swissmaid says:

    I live in Switzerland, and in our canton, school begins at 8.20am. Kindergarten and early school years (1st year, age 6/7) also begin at 8.20am.

    From the age of 9/10 however, the children typically have two to three mornings when school begins at 7.20am.
    Lunch break is from 11.50-1.45pm, and it is largely expected that children go home for lunch. Schools typically do not provide eating areas or sell food. There are not enough eateries close by to facilitate the numbers.

    Those students having afternoon school, finish at 3.20pm.

    After school activities begin then.

    Children are placed in a school which is close to their home – a maximum of 15 minutes walk away. The issue of school buses is not a factor.

    Tageschule is “out of school hours care”, is based at the school, and can provide lunch. Charges are on a means test basis. The minority of students are registered, and once registered, you must commit to being registered for the whole school year.

    Although it currently runs from 12.55pm, in the 2013/2014 school year, the valuable german class for non native german speakers will run one morning per week, starting at 7.30am. All ages attend this one group lesson (from age 6) of about 15 students.

    You may wonder why I am writing this here? I was stunned that my 7 year old would need to go to school for 7.30am, and decided to research online.
    It seems you guys have the added complications of going to schools which are much further away from your homes, and require cars or buses.

    I will never change the Swiss system. It was it is and what it always has been… if I want to change the time my kids go to school, I’ll need to move. Not just house, but move country.

  • Sara says:

    I agree. My high school starts at 7 and I have to wake up at 5. I have to admit this has effected al lot of things. For instance I’m really moody now. Also the most sleep I can get is 6 hours and that’s if I sleep at 11. I’ve been really stressed out lately and recently just bombed my la test. I’m always tired.

  • anna ballinger says:

    I read with interest article and some of the posts. Not sure if anyone mentioned this, but ALL students, from K-12 would greatly benefit from a later start time. And their parents too. It is excruciating having to be up at undue hours of the morning rushing to get to school. Families in Europe where school start at 9:00AM have the time to eat dinner and breakfast together. Family life is disrupted here by school schedule and afterschool activities. A family centered schedule would greatly benefit to everyone, children and parents. I just posted an article on the latest Obama initiative regarding school start time on my face book page. Read on at

  • Anna says:

    I believe it

  • Avery says:

    studies show that our brains are not ready for a full day of learning untill 10:00. therefore school should start at a time more of 9-9:30

  • Jakdoj// says:

    school should start earlier

  • JoDee says:

    I completely agree. School here starts at 8:00 and I a live 5 miles from my school I have to wake up at 6:30 every day and I am failing 2 of my classes and I only get 5 hours of sleep.

  • Anna Donovan says:

    Totaly agree.
    I’m a zombie at school every day!!!

  • EnteringHighSchoolNextYear says:

    One thing I didn’t see that I was looking for was about high school and if it should start later. Here it starts at 7:10, but I’m still in middle school so I don’t really know if that will allow me enough sleep or not. I am looking forward to getting out of school earlier, because right now my school day technically ends at 4 (middle school starts at 9) and my mom had to talk to the principle to get me out of my electives so I could make it to swim practice on time. The problem I see is that next year, I will have a full schedule of classes and leave school at 2:30, but swimming will still be at 4 or 4;30 until 7 at night. The earliest I can expect to get to bed is 9:30, and I do not fall asleep quickly which I just learned may have something to do with adolescent hormones. So if I fall asleep at 10 and get up at either 5;30 to take the bus or 6;15 if my mom drives me, I can get between 7 and 8 hours of sleep. Technically enough, but that’s cutting it fine. I would love to be able to walk or ride my bike but there isn’t sidewalk for the first half of the way and the roads are not very safe for a single cyclist. I know I won’t be able to get a ride from my mom most days because she has to take my brother to elementary school, which starts at 8:15. They need sleep too, and can’t wake up early to drive me and then wait an hour for his school to open. I’m rambling here, but I wish that all the schools were on the elementary school’s schedule of 8:15 – 2:45. Leaving middle school at 4 does not work out well for sports or other extracurriculars, but waking up for high school to start at 7:10 does not work out for anyone.

  • jacob stempkowski says:

    i am a 15 year old student who wakes up every morning (monday-friday) at 5:30 and have to be to school by the start time at 7:15. this is crazy how early we as high school students have to wake up this early. Schools like mine need to push back the start time like is was when i was in middle school a couple years ago. then we started at 9:20 and i didn’t have to wake up until 8:00. schools need to look at this and see all of the students who are aggravated about these start times.

  • LOGAN ROCKS says:


  • Lisa says:

    school starts too early kids need sleep too people

  • Secret Student says:

    I am enrolled in Johnston County Public Schools in NC. I am in high school, and school starts at 7:10. I take the bus, which comes at 6, meaning I wake up at 5 every morning. It is the most ridiculous thing in the entire world. I don’t understand how everyone expects to learn with such little sleep (4-7 hours, depending on the amount of homework). I’m constantly dozing of throughout the day and have 0 motivation. Somehow, I’ve managed to make it almost through my freshman year, but I’ve been slugging along. When the weekend comes, I sleep excessive amounts and still feel drained. Please, push for later start times.

  • riley says:


  • Or nawwww says:

    Omg totz!! 1st period be like zzzzzzz -.-

  • wanye says:

    They need to shorten middle and high schools hours!

  • anonymous user says:

    elementary middle and high schools should all start around 10:00 am

  • Morpheus says:

    I completely agree. I’m really bad about getting my homework done, so I can sometimes end up going to sleep at around 3:30 in the morning, which gives me about two and a half to three hours of sleep. If school could just start and hour later, I could keep my grades up and not go around school like a zombie. Stupid adults shouldn’t ignore this issue.

  • Bunny says:


  • Ashley says:

    I definitely think that school starts too early. My school starts at 7:40am, but I’m on the bus by 6:00am and have to get up at 4:30 just to look halfway decent for the day. By 3:00pm I’m pretty much done for. I’m now a junior in highschool.

  • Nathan says:

    I taught high school for more than 35 years. Students must learn to adapt and prepare for the real world. Do you think a company will open their business later because lazy people won’t get up early? Students, to be successful, need to get up earlier – not later. The world has gone mad and it’s too bad – so sad!

    Another factor is ending later. In the winter it gets dark earlier. I don’t think parents want their kids in danger coming home when it’s dark. This can create many more unexpected problems.

    Anyone ever heard the old saying “Early to bed early to rise makes you healthy, wealthy and wise”? Let’s get real here. Schools should continue what they’ve been doing for over a 100 years – start early and end by 3 PM!

    Note that people can adjust to earlier wake up times within 2-3 days. It simply requires some effort to go to sleep early and get up on time. Are students really that weak that schools have to adapt to their every pathetic desire?

  • Angela says:

    I agree with schools giving in to students. My kids use a calculator to do math. That’s why they have trouble. I used to do more math than they can do when I was several years younger than they are (around 5th grade). Today kids are being spoiled by a degraded system that no longer works.

  • Mike says:

    I agree with grandpa’s comments. It definitely makes sense.
    In most areas of the US darkness brings out criminals, fear and confusion (especially with small children). I don’t think starting at 8 AM and finishing by 3 PM is unreasonable. That’s the way it’s always been done ever since schools have functioned. Things only started changing when idiots known as the Department Of Education and the DOE (Dopes Of Education) took over! That’s when common sense flew out the window. It became the blind leading the blind!

  • […] tests at the end of the year. After controlling for various characteristics, test scores went up in North Carolina's Wake County School District when middle school started an hour […]

  • A-Very-Stressed-Studnet says:

    Even with all the facts, they won’t do it. School are cheep and don’t want to spend money on later bus times.

  • Mahogany Wilson says:

    I go to The School For Creative and Performing Arts in Cincinnati, Oho. My school starts at 9:16 for elementary and middle schoolers. For me, school starts at 8:30 but when you are a junior or senior, you don’t start school until 12:00pm and even get to leave at 2:00pm. Easy right?

  • Mom of exhausted 6th grader says:

    We live in the Xenia Ohio Community schools district and my 6th grader went from beginning her day at 9:15 AM to 7:15 AM. Her bus comes at 6:30 AM every morning. She is exhausted. I completely agree with the comments and findings above. What can I do to push this? The schools are more focused on money rather than education.

  • student says:

    i agree that school needs to start later, because i fall asleep in all my classes, teens should get more sleep even if some teens don’t need it. my school starts at 7:25 and when i get to school i am already half asleep when i walk off the bus.

  • sleepy student says:

    Being a high school student balancing school work, sports, clubs, and a social life the early morning wake ups hit me like a truck. Having to wake up around 6:15 to barely make the bus at 6:30 is a daily struggle for school starting at 7:25. Sports practices after school, which start at 2:40, are physically draining after a rigorous academic day. Once practice is over one must make time to eat dinner, to shower, and, most importantly, to do homework. Staying awake while doing homework is a constant struggle due to the fact that I am mentally and physically exhausted. The time finally comes for bed around 11:30pm knowing another brutal wake-up awaits tomorrow.

  • person says:


  • Brooke S. says:

    On the first page, first paragraph, I do believe this is true when you have stated that districts also stagger start times to reduce transportation costs, but what if some schools DO NOT use buses? I am using this site, along with many others, for my Tropicana speech. I am a fourth grader and at my school, no one uses buses. None of the sites I have visited, not even this site, which, by the way, is a very good source of information, had the answer to that one question. What if some schools do not use buses?

  • MikeC says:

    Reply to Nathan 8/25/14 – for a HS teacher of 35 years your opinion lacks any creditable evidence or common sense.

    Saying students must,” learn to adapt and prepare for the real world” is illogical since the evidence says they are not ready biologically to live by your real world standards.

    Saying, “Students, to be successful, need to get up earlier – not later.” is not correct either. Students have no choice in high school. They have to be in school at your hours. in their next role as adults they will have a choice as to what kind of work or hours they care to work. And their bodies will be in a better biological place to get up early.

    Then you say, “I don’t think parents want their kids in danger coming home when it’s dark.” Unless you are living close to the Arctic Circle darkness falls sometime after 5PM for most states in the winter. Besides these are HIGH SCHOOL students, many who were coming home in the dark after sports practice and games anyway.

    “Early to bed early to rise makes you healthy, wealthy and wise”? is NOT scientific or medical. It is cute rhyme.

    “continue what they’ve been doing for over a 100 years ” Sure, let’s continue having teachers clean the building and stay unmarried..just like they’ve been doing for 100 years!

    Students aren’t weak ( so much for having respect for your students) they are GROWING adolescents. that need MORE sleep to succeed.

  • High School Student says:

    I am a high school student and I know some people who would use that extra time that you would give them to stay up later. Also I am in sports so I would suffer and teens who work would suffer since they are now working less hours because if you move the time forward then you must move their release time to a later time. Teens can only work from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. if they are 16 or 17 and if you are 14 or 15 it is from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Meaning that the student would not be allowed to work as long during the day and he or she would make less money. Also I have an off block 5th so I get up around 7:30 a.m. and I feel more tired on that day then on days that I have to get up at 6 a.m.

  • vicky says:

    last year i went to a school that started later but i was absent more than when i went to that school.

  • suzy142 says:

    i agree with everybody , school should start for the students so they can learn more and better!

  • rylie says:

    picture of the man/ boy sleeping is fake !!! but i am using this info for my school project and i have made many many notes thank you!!!

  • always tired says:

    I’m not even in high school yet, and I’m always tired by the end of the day. The only time when anyone at my school feels well rested is when there is a late start, when school starts at 9:30. On late start days everyone is much happier and pays more attention in class.

  • J says:

    We students and teachers shouldn’t wake up until 8:00 and school shouldn’t start until 9:30

  • BOB says:

    Middle schoolers need more sleep than anyone

  • chris says:

    yes school should start later like 9 or 12

  • Arianna Thornton says:

    I (as do others) agree with this article because the average teenage brain does not start to function until 11:00 in the morning.

  • People says:

    Basically, everyone needs to rest.

  • red says:

    teens need to sleep!!!!!!!!

  • rebecca says:

    we are teens we need sleep you know

  • Susan says:

    School started last Wednesday, not even a full week yet. Not only did one teacher say that had she known that the children would be this way, she would have rethought her profession. This she said in front of a parent as she was saying it to the principles face. Teacher must have needed more sleep for sure this day!.

    NOW, I have two grandchildren, two boys. One 7 this month and one 14 .. The older of the two has to be at the school at 7:15AM Ask me if school starts to early. The younger child has to be up, washed, dressed and MAYBE he’ll have something to eat before going (of which most times he doesn’t because he’s not awake enough) Can he function this early? He’s AT the bus stop with mother at 8AM. The single parent has to get ready for work ,no a slacker, in between these two leaving getting lunches ready ect before she can drive to work herself.

    Teacher, parent children tired racing to be someplace causes accidents and poor decision making. Will someone PLEASE find a DECENT EVALUATION AND LET US ALL CATCH A BREAK???

  • Toni says:

    Not only are they lacking sleep, but starting at 7:15 means lunches start at 10:30-10:45. They then starve in the afternoon and munch on junk food and mess up their dinner. Who eats lunch that early in the morning? Wrong,wrong

  • maddie says:

    Not only are they lacking sleep, but starting at 7:15 means lunches start at 10:30-10:45. They then starve in the afternoon and munch on junk food and mess up their dinner. Who eats lunch that early in the morning? Wrong,wrong

  • vanesa barger says:

    i think that schools should start later then they do because in the morning i am so tired and sometimes i have to do tests in the morning how am a supposed to do my best when i am about to dose off duo to the lack of sleep

  • Noah M. says:

    I’m 13 years old and I do think schools start too early. You all may be thinking, all teens want schools to start early. Yes, a little of me is like that but I speak behalf of all my friends and most teens, we need our sleep. Sometimes while i’m at school a lot of the teachers say “you guys should be awake for this test, what tie did you go to bed last night.” I have done research and I’m pretty sure a lot of you have too about when teens usually start getting tired on a regular basis and it says anywhere from 10:00 to midnight. I have a couple of friends who’s schools start at 7:00 or 7:30, and it’s not fair that they push themselves to sleep early and can’t. I can’t believe that schools would rather save money than have a network of students with a high GPA background so we can have a good adult life, it seems selfish. That’s all I wanted to say about this.

  • eminem mathers says:

    I think school should start later for kids

  • Javier Garcia says:

    I think school should start at least 9:30 or 10 I lose sleep my class starts at 8:00 and I have to get up at 6:00 just to get ready and leave

  • Javier Garcia says:

    And I am in high school

  • Anonymous Spoopleheimer says:

    Yeah I understand the whole “not enough sleep thing”, but for parents with kids who can’t drive yet, they might have work at 8 or 9 and need the early stuff. Also try going to bed earlier.

  • Yo says:

    School should be later than it is because I go to bed at 10 and have to wake up at 5:00 because i have to milk and I in 6th grade my class starts at 7:30

  • eddie kirch says:

    going to bed earler does not work beacause of the block from 9-10 it is a time when a pre teen to a teen is most active

  • Max power says:

    I took first period off(spare) in high school…..

    But now with my own children, the study is flawed, 3 boys my wife and I leave early for work. We moved to a school area that started early just because of this “problem.”

    Taking them to before school(daycare) and having them start at 9 – waking up at 6 to get ready for 7am, they’re drained before school even starts at 9. And comatose by 7pm.

    In high school you can dress yourself and walk to school alone….. Waking up late

  • Hunter says:

    I think school should start earlier. The only reason is because you would have more time to do whatever you want after you get out of school.

  • bob the unicorn says:

    we are teens we need sleep you know

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