What We’re Watching: Some Communities Reluctant to Start School Later

By Education Next 06/21/2012

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This TV news story from Sacramento draws on the recent Education Next study by Finley Edwards on the effects of later school start times on student achievement.

Featuring the network’s teen reporter, the story investigates why high school start times are so early, when evidence from studies like the one by Edwards suggests that later start times would boost student achievement.

The Sacramento principal interviewed for the piece said that parents like the earlier start times so that they can drop their kids off at school on the way to work, and noted that later start times would not leave as much time in the afternoon for high school athletics.

The Edwards’ study, “Do Schools Begin Too Early,” which appears in the Summer 2012 issue of Ed Next, found that students with similar backgrounds in similar school districts who started school earlier in the morning than their counterparts had lower academic achievement.

A doctor interviewed in the piece notes:

Kids who get better sleep and more sleep are actually healthier from a fitness standpoint and are less likely to be obese… There are also ADD correlations [in which sleep] improves their attention span.

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

    It’s not just “some,” but “many” communities that are unwilling to start school later than 7 or 7:30 am, start times that have become the “norm” in recent years. The reasons have nothing to do with science and everything to do with human nature and systemic problems. Those of us who have watched an entire generation grow up without any change think we need a new approach, starting with a nationwide effort to frame school start times as a public health issue. Many local groups are uniting via the grassroots coalition http://www.StartSchoolLater.net to do so, and I hope anyone interested in seeing progress in our lifetime will join us.

  • Bruce William Smith says:

    The principal in the news report seems to value interscholastic sports over student learning and health. We need a new school model. The school my trustees and I are planning to open (http://www.oneworldschool.us) will start at 9:00, with classes until 3:30 in the afternoon. Yes, this will complicate extracurriculars, but we are not going to put anything else above the learning of our students, and believe that teenagers should be able to get themselves to school independently of their parents’ work schedules. That principal at Rio Americano should show more leadership for student learning.

  • […] have to commute a lot to get here, and I’d just be sitting in traffic longer.” (Daniel Wetter, What We’re Watching: Some Communities Reluctant to Start School Later (Jun. 21, 2012) Education Next; Hartman, Proposal to Change School Start Time (Jan. 27, 2012) The […]

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