Mor information on the Positive Impact of Later High-School Start Time

One of the busing plans suggested for Cawley, to save money was starting LHS at 7:15 am

More and more we read reports about the need for later start times for the betterment of High School students. The National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute recommends that teenagers get between nine and 10 hours of sleep. Most in the United States don’t.

There have been many studies done on start times including six recent ones in which two of them were random controlled trials. They showed that delaying the start of school from 25 to 60 minutes corresponded with increased sleep time of 25 to 77 minutes per week night. In other words, when students were allowed to sleep later in the morning, they still went to bed at the same time, and got more sleep.

In this New York Times article, Aaron Carroll reports on two cost-benefit analyses of later high-school opening times. According to a 2011 Brookings Institution study, the additional cost of starting at 8:30 a.m. or later is about $150 per student for transportation, but the benefit in improved academic achievement is the equivalent of two additional months of schooling, which the researchers calculated would add about $17,500 to each graduate’s lifetime earnings.

A more recent RAND Corporation (disclosure – a customer of mine) study calculated the impact of revised start times (no earlier than 8:30) for middle and high schools, looking state by state and year by year at a variety of factors, including car accidents, lifetime productivity, and the multiplier effect of one person’s benefits on others.

That study found that pushing start times forward would have a negative financial impact at first – $150 more per student for transportation and $110,000 per school for upfront infrastructure upgrades. But by the second year, benefits would begin to outweigh costs, and over the first decade, later start times would contribute $83 billion to the U.S. economy.

There are other factors according to the Times story that a later school times affects, for example, parents having to make adjustments in their personal and work schedules to accommodate later start times – but even with these additional costs, the benefits of later start times outweigh the costs.

The RAND study wasn’t able to put a dollar estimate on the impact of inadequate sleep on teens’ depression, obesity, overall health, and suicide.

“Some schools are beginning to take this seriously,” according to the Times article “but not enough.

When it comes to start times, the growing evidence shows that forcing adolescents to get up so early isn’t just a bad health decision; it’s a bad economic one, too.

When I went to LHS we started at 7:15, is that now to early or is an 8:30 start time to late? Will a later start negatively impact after school jobs, clubs and sports?

As always looking forward to hearing your thoughts.


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