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Should School Start Later in the Morning?

New study cites "clear benefits for students whose high schools start at 8:30 a.m. or later."

A number of school districts across the country have pushed back high school opening times in the face of growing evidence of the benefits of later start times for students. 

A new study from the University of Minnesota says there are "clear benefits for students whose high schools start at 8:30 a.m. or later." 

"This would include, for teens who reported they got at least 8 hours of sleep per night, that they were more likely to say they have good overall health and were less likely to report being depressed or using caffeine and other substances (e.g., alcohol, tobacco, other drugs," the study concludes. "Other positive findings include a significant reduction in local car crashes, less absenteeism, less tardiness, as well as higher test scores on national achievement tests." 

Long Island is home to the 14th national chapter of "Start School Later," a nonprofit organization "of health professionals, sleep scientists, educators, parents, students, and other concerned citizens working to ensure that all public schools can set hours compatible with health, safety, equity, and learning."

Riverhead High School parents are currently working with other districts in Sag Harbor, Westhampton and East Hampton to push East End schools to start later.

Not everyone is in favor of a later school day start, however. The New York Times reported that many parents, and some students, say a later start "makes sports practices end late, jeopardizes student jobs, bites into time for homework and extracurricular activities, and upsets the morning routine for working parents and younger children."

Read the full University of Minnesota study here and then let us know what you think. Should Long Island high schools open later? Share your thoughts in the comments section below. 
Tracee March 24, 2014 at 02:18 PM
WHB schools changed their start time to 7:30 while I was in middle school so band and chorus could takes place during school rather before school started. Therefore ALL students had to be at school earlier. I also did a thesis about amount of sleep and students performance and found - yes I know it was a small scale test - that more sleep did not change how children performed overall - most kids wont sleep longer if they go to school later, they will just stay up later. The argument will go both ways no matter what is done, it comes down to depending on the child and their family - if the parents make it so the children sleep longer and don't allow electronics in the bedroom, that child may perform better. Some kids just have trouble sleeping and maybe don't need 8 hours to do their best. Everyone is different and you will never make everyone happy.
Arnold Timer March 24, 2014 at 08:16 PM
@Tracee. You admitted your test was invalid, small group, no controls, etc. Please read the multiple scientific studies referenced above and then give your opinion. Your conclusions, like so many others here, are just your personal feelings and have no basis in fact.
JGJR March 24, 2014 at 10:58 PM
I just finished reading through that sleep study that you quoted in contemporary pediatrics. It was quite an interesting and enlightening article. However, it only supports your claims after you minimized the primary factors contributing to those sleep disorders; poor sleep behaviors, environmentals, etc. Eliminating/reducing of the hours of late night TV, computer use, cell phone use is their first and most important stimulant to curb. The electionic light exposure is the problem. Then secondly, comes caffeine based drinks; sodas, coffees, teas and pills. Yes, page three of the article does support your claims backed by studies but let's be real here. There are parents that don't even know their children are watching/creating porn on their (babysitting devices, a.k.a. ipads) instead of doing their homework in the first place! What you're clearly suggesting is beyond the mass majority due to a lack of their own span of attention/ mindless reality tv viewing/ slutty gossip magazine reading public. The family unit needs to be in order before you go and revamp the entire school district at great expense and inconvenience to all the working stiffs (working more than one job to make ends meet). When people start taking accountability for their own problems and still cannot yield the desired results, then bring up the study again over a cup of coffee. ;-)
GM March 24, 2014 at 11:14 PM
This discussion should focus on finding what really works best to learn. Wake up call at 6 am for high schoolers will change, as it's simply not required. Walking into a building for 6 hours a day to take classes in 40 minute intervals is absurd. Bombarding teens with data points on 6-8 different subjects per day needs review for efficacy. Immersive learning enables learning. Stay for an hour. Absorb. Question. Discuss. Apply. That's how many people learn best. This "speed dating" type structure has got to change.
brookhavenconfucius March 25, 2014 at 07:42 AM
GM, you are INNOCENT, IF YOU THINK, "This discussion should focus on finding what really works best to learn." IT'S NOT ABOUT THAT, though proponents will say that's the 'focus' ! DID you come from MARS, or somewhere ?

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