Behind the Headline: Students Find More Awareness with Later Starts

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Students Find More Awareness with Later Starts
Boston Globe| 3/10/2016

Behind the Headline
Do Schools Begin Too Early?
Education Next | Summer 2012

ednext_20123_edwards_openerAn article by James Vaznis in the Boston Globe describes how many school districts in Massachusetts are exploring whether to change high school start times so that teens can get more sleep. The state legislature may also study the issue.

Vaznis writes

For skeptics, the movement might seem like pandering to the whims of undisciplined teenagers who want extra Zs. But an increasing body of research has documented a shift in the biology of teenagers that delays their sleep and wake-up cycles by about two hours, pushing off their natural bedtime to 11 p.m. or later. That, in turn, means that if they need to get to school at the crack of dawn, they will routinely get only five or six hours of sleep.

In a study published in Education Next in 2012, Finley Edwards examined the impact on student learning of starting school one hour later.

Edwards writes

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.

— Education Next

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