Despite Proven Benefits, Starting School Later Remains a ‘Tough Sell’

starting school later“Early to bed, and early to rise, makes a man healthy, wealthy and wise.” This well-known proverb, say scientists from the University of Oxford, Harvard University, and the University of Nevada is only helping to make students’ lives miserable. The conventional wisdom that going to bed early and getting up early leads to productivity and success is, in the case of teenagers at least, simply wrong. Paul Kelley, Steven Lockey, Russell Foster and Jonathan Kelley argue that letting students sleep and starting school later can lead to better health and academic outcomes.

Unfortunately, concerns about lack of sleep often get the brush-off from schools and even some parents who are quick to blame inattentiveness in school solely on teen behavior, laziness, general indifference, or all of the above. If only they went to bed earlier, concentration and attentiveness would improve. But in their report, the researchers say that schools are ignoring adolescent biology and are “systemically restricting the time available for sleep and causing severe and chronic sleep loss.”

They’re not alone. The chorus of voices in favor of schools starting later has been getting louder. In August, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) issued findings that lay out a stark and sobering picture of how sleep deprivation harms teenagers, a common problem among high school students especially. Adolescents who don’t get enough sleep (CDC recommends 9-10 hours) have an increased risk of being overweight, suffering depression, and struggling academically.

Less than one third of U.S. students, however, are sleeping at least 8 hours on school nights and four out of five middle and high schools start their day before 8:30 a.m. A consensus has emerged among health experts that this is simply too early.

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In 2014, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommended middle and high schools delay the start of class to 8:30 a.m. or later, necessary to align school schedules to the biological sleep rhythms of adolescents.

“Chronic sleep loss in children and adolescents is one of the most common – and easily fixable – public health issues in the U.S. today,” said Dr. Judith Owens, author of the AAP policy statement. “Delaying early school start times is one key factor that can help adolescents get the sleep they need to grow and learn.”

“The teenage body is nocturnal,” adds Dr. Denise Pope of Stanford University’s Graduate School of Education and co-founder of Challenge Success. “Their circadian rhythms are different from adults. So even starting school at 8:30 can make a huge difference.”

Currently, only Alaska and North Dakota meet the 8:30 a.m. standard – barely. The average school start time in Alaska is 8:33. North Dakota is a couple minutes behind at 8:31. (Louisiana had the earliest start time – 7:40 a.m.)

In 2014, the University of Minnesota released a study that examined data from more than 9,000 students attending eight high schools in three states. The study found that attendance and academic performance in math, English, science and social studies improved at schools with later start times, while tardiness, substance abuse, and symptoms of depression declined. At Edina High School outside of Minneapolis – the first school in the country to shift to a later start (7:20 to 8:30 a.m.) – school counselors and nurses reported fewer students seeking help for emotional problems and physical complaints. Furthermore, 92 percent of parents in Edina said their teenagers were “easier to live with.”

As most experts urge schools to begin school later than 8:30 a.m., the Oxford and Harvard researchers up the ante and recommend 10 a.m., which they say properly aligns with the “biological wake-up time” of a typical 16-year-old. That would mean 6:30 a.m. for a 10-year-old, so school for them should start somewhere between 8:30 and 9 a.m. A college freshman should have his or her first class between 11 and 11:30.

This “relatively simple step,” the researchers insist, is both practical and necessary:

The synchronization of education to adolescent biology enables immediate advances in educational attainment and can be achieved with a relatively simple step that does not require new teaching methods, new testing or large additional expenditure…Good policies should be based on good evidence, and the data show that children are currently placed at an enormous disadvantage by being forced to keep to inappropriate education times. 

Starting_School_Later_1Kelley, Lockley, and Foster acknowledge that deep-seated and largely false assumptions about teen behavior and the benefits of waking up early are obstacles to the acceptance of later school start times. Still, not many districts would describe the move as a “simple step.” Legitimate, practical considerations have to be considered – the impact on bus schedules and after school programs, for example –  and buy-in from educators, parents and the community is essential.

“Changing schools is hard, and getting schools to start as late as 9:00 or 9:30, when teenage bodies are actually only waking up, would be a tough sell,” says Pope.  “But the best thing is to take it slow and look at how changing schedules affects everyone. It’s not just the students. It’s teachers, bus drivers, everyone at school, and especially parents. When multiple stakeholders are around the table, you can make effective change.”

Photos: Associated Press

  • BUSYMOM4

    Our high schools in Charlotte, NC start at 7:15am. Ridiculous! NO students should be waiting for buses in the dark before 7am.

    • Katherine Shockley

      We didn’t start until 8:30 AM, but we still had students getting on the bus before 7 AM. It all depends on where you are too unfortunately.

      • Alvin Brinson

        At least you can sleep on a bus if it’s a long ride. When I was a kid (1980s) I had a 1hour ride to school. School started at 8:00am for all grade levels (small school), but I had to catch the bus at 6:40am. I would put my head on the seat in front of me and sleep.

    • Rollover35

      school starts for me at 7:35, but parents drop off their kids as early as 6:30.

    • ILBusDriver

      I pick up my first students at 6:25am in Illinois. It really is too early.

  • B H Poole

    My kids are in the classroom at 7:05. First graders are being given farmer hours but we expect them to grow up and be professional people and go to work at 8:00.

    • Sefira Phaedra

      Hmm…last time I checked, “Farmer’s. hours” are from sunup to sundown. Nofirst grader I know is in that intensea lifestyle, unless they are in 4-H or FFA.

    • Sparrow Matheson

      When I was in high school, it started at 7:05! It was evil. I still got A’s, but that was more because of my parents’ expectations. If I’d had a choice, school would’ve begun around 11:00! My bus ride took a half hour, so I learned how to get up at 6:05, speed shower and get ready, then RUN to the bus stop and sleep through first period. Lovely.

  • Savi0r

    my high school started at 8:00…. but more than 50% of students came to school late. Around 9:00am, all students arrived. There is no way a student can be as productive 8:00am compared to 1:00pm. The workload is different. Have you ever woken up in the morning around 7:00am and say “YAY TIME TO DO CALCULUS!”? Do you even understand what it means to “wake up” compared to actually doing work? Adults drink coffee, drive along the way… But for students Coffee isn’t effective as much, and there is no “driving along the way” period, instead replace that with workload. Even adults can’t do work like that. There is no productivity. I know people from the 60s-80s will say otherwise, but their education workload is completely different from today. In the 80s, not every student is required to take pre-calc… Today, I’m learning from teaching certification that students are beginning to require calculus before they graduate high school. That is a significant difference. I can understand algebra might be difficult in the morning, but calculus is a different story for high school students. Not only that, our circadian clock is changing (in terms of generation). Today’s Circadian clock is about 2 hours ahead of those from the 60s-80s. Because the lights are on around 8pm, our bodies and mind is quickly adapting to the idea that daylight is longer, even though the light is acting as a synthetic form of visible light. Maybe in the 60s, people used dimmed lights, now that is understandable… but today, we use extremely bright LED lights to prevent pre-sleep preparations to occur. Also, have we totally forgot that puberty requires sleep? You want your children to develop disorders, syndromes, illnesses, or even lifetime endangerment just because you want them to wake up early in the morning?

    • Jhunt

      So your answer is based on the level of the class? I don’t get the logic that algebra would be okay, but not Calculus. …and I seriously doubt that calculus is a requirement to graduate from high school. I don’t know where that is, but there must be some seriously major over-achievers there.

      • Kerry King

        As a high school calculus teacher (who starts teaching same at 8 am), I can assure you that calculus is NOT a graduation requirement at any public high school!

        • The student may require the calc, as the poster wrote, because of post-secondary plans; the school wouldn’t require it.

        • Alvin Brinson

          Many states, such as Texas, have graduation “Endorsements” they’re forcing on students. You have a base plan, that they don’t tell anyone is an option. Even my ESL kids, feet still barely touching the ground in the USA, are forced to pick an “Endorsement”. If you pick STEM, then yes, you do have to take calculus in High School.

  • An Educator

    I understand the benefits of starting later…but what about producing career ready students??? Most jobs and careers require a much earlier start than even 10:00a.m.

    • enteraname

      By the time students complete college and are ready for a career, their biological wake up times will have changed, and they will be more ready for an early start time.

      • Many of their college classes will have early start times. They graduate in June used to a 10:00 start time but are magically ready for an 8:00 one by August?

    • Ed Ucator

      They won’t be teenagers anymore when they start working… HELLO?

  • ALycos

    My kids’ school starts at 7:30 but their bus picks them up at 6:30! I am all for a later start time but I’m concerned with what time I will need to pick them up from their after school activities. There are some days that I’m ready to hit the sack by 8:00. Might not be an option if the kids are still participating in sporting events.

    • pickaname

      And that’s a huge part of why school start times haven’t changed. Our kids’ schedules are being dictated by the work schedules of adults. It’s a legitimate concern with no easy answer.

      • Alvin Brinson

        No, not even close. Our school day starts at 7:20 am. Most jobs don’t start even close to that early. Additionally, if enough parents in a community demand it, employers will be forced to shift their schedules also and maybe some of can get some f*cking sleep finally.

    • They’d need to do sports before school.

  • earlyriser

    The idea that students need to report for school at 8:00 am because when they are adults they will begin work day at 8:00 or earlier is irrelevant. They won’t be living in a teenager’s body when they enter the workforce. A greater concern for me is that students may be more productive after 10:00, but what about their teachers? What is the best productivity cycle for adults in the classroom or does it make little or no difference?

    • teachertalk2015

      Why is this irrelevant? As 17-18 year old kids, they need to understand accountability and responsibility. Being required to be at school and start at 8 or 8:30 teaches them they have to be accountable for being up and ready to go. There are 8:00 classes in college. If they sleep until 9-10am in high school, we have crippled them when it comes to preparing for college life. I highly doubt colleges will change class times to accommodate the sleep patterns of the students. There comes a point where it is time to grow up and accept responsibility. I am a high school teacher and it pains me to see how we have ENABLED our kids to form an entitled attitude toward life. We accommodate them to a degree that blows my mind sometimes. This is another example of an unnecessary accommodation!

      • Robert Tervonin

        Did you even read the article? It’s about natural and well-researched sleep cycles not ‘responsibility’ issues.

        • Teachertalk does have a point, though. We will not always have jobs/classes/responsibilities that suit our internal clocks. This will be the case throughout life, alas.

          • Alvin Brinson

            Penny, you are right that jobs/responsibilities to not always suit our internal clock. Did you know that a lifetime of shift work can actually shave years off your life? Apparently the body doesn’t handle lack of sleep well. Skip sleep for years on end being “responsible” and you will die younger. Is this what we want for our kids? Niiiice.

      • Greg

        Exactly. The same kids who get up in time to get to school, or get to morning practices, are the same kids that grow up into responsible people. As a teacher of 29 years, the thing that has changed the most is the responsibility we take away from the families and individuals and put on the schools.

  • HSmathteacher

    It is not so simple. First, you have adults teaching these classes – they are on a different “clock”, so they are teaching at their best earlier, in many cases. Sports should never be the priority but it is shown that students involved in after school activities often do better in school. How late can students get home from school and sports and still eat, study and sleep? Until a certain age, they rely on parents that do not have the same schedule for transportation and meals! I wonder if a schedule more like colleges is more appropriate for HS students.

    • Sports would have to be done early in the morning, before school– 6 AM to 9. It’s time we stopped disadvantaging the majority of kids for the sake of athletes.

      • Rollover35

        Penny, see that is a decent idea. Pretty good for a troll and an ugly one at that

      • Alvin Brinson

        In Texas, that wouldn’t be a bad thing. Afternoon heat is terrible here. Even today, it was in the 90s by the time school let out at 2:55pm. A lot of student athletes end up having heat stress and even end up with heat strokes working out in that kind of heat. In August and September, it can easily be 100 degrees while the kids are working out.

      • Christa Woods

        Developmentally, the start times have not been correct for decades.
        This shouldn’t be brand new information for us as educators. Penny, I agree with you:
        the sports drive the schedule. Its all about sports from funding to scheduling! Don’t get me
        wrong, sports add a necessary component that many students need. I just
        wish it wasn’t so much of a driving force; perhaps then we could create more options in the schedule that will help teenagers.

    • Trista Luke

      Who says adults are at their best earlier? I just switched to an early start school (have to be there by 7:10) and every single morning is rough. I’m not the only one who feels that way.

  • Neffdogg

    Every NEA chapter should bargain with their local district to begin school after 8:30 a.m.

  • Jhunt

    I can honestly see issues with school before 8am, but 10am start times would be far too extreme. The true problem lies within the fact that the kids are not going to bed at a suitable time. I speak to my students regularly, and their reason for being tired is that they are up playing video games, texting friends, etc. until 2-3am (or even later) on a regular basis. This is mostly a parenting issue if you ask me.
    If you go in to high schools and bump their start times to 10am, you will be having a dismissal time of 5pm. That means that extra-curriculars (a HUGE part of the HS environment) will not begin until 5:30 or so… and some even later. This means that the 5:30 basketball game will now be pushed back until 7:30 or so start time. After the game ends around 10, they have to travel back to the school and then home, getting home around midnight before they even begin to do settle down for bed.
    The problem will only continue to perpetuate itself by shifting the times that students get home and go to bed.

    • Carrie Watts

      I remember that studies said the same thing about adolescent circadian rhythms when I was in high school (in the early 1990s). I had a zero period that started at 6:05 because my high school’s start time was 7:22 AM. I went to bed by 9:00 so that I could get up at 5:00, but I usually lay sleepless for HOURS every night before I could fall asleep, even in a dark room with no noise. It’s not bad parenting or slacking teenagers who disobey them. It’s just that young people can’t easily fall asleep as early as they’d need to in order to wake up for an early start at school without being exhausted.

      • Jhunt

        So you are saying that when that student is exhausted, they can not go to bed at say… 10:00, lay in a dark room, and go to sleep? I can see a few times on the initial days, but once a routine is established, you can go to sleep when you are tired, and you can be alert when you aren’t. Quit making excuses for kids and hold them to reasonable expectations. Going to school from 8am-3pm, is not unreasonable when you have been to bed at a reasonable hour.

        • Robert Michael Purington

          I fully agree. And, when we have kids in basketball and getting home 11 to 1 am, they can be present the next day, the lights are on but no one is home. Again this is parenting or the kids’ choice.

        • AMC

          I’ve been a teacher for 22 years and I have always been a night person. I do not function well at 7am and I have been getting up at 530 for 22 years. I do have difficulty falling asleep before 11pm even when I’m tired. I guess I still have my biological clock of my teen years.

          • Sparrow Matheson

            I’m also a teacher of many years, and I have never adjusted to the way too early schedule either! It has long been my wish to have school start later. I’m in total agreement with you!

          • Alvin Brinson

            I think most people have our bioclock, AMC. The world has just got an “early” fetish.

            When I was a kid, my mother would have to spray water on my face to wake me up so I could catch the bus at 6:40am. When I was in college, I scheduled no classes before 10am if at all possible. Now that I’m a teacher, like you, I struggle to get up in time for work (though I’m never late). Today for example, I woke up at 6:50am and was at work by 7:10 (bell rings at 7:20)… and then I have to worry about random parents complaining to the administration that my dress shirt isn’t ironed. My students meanwhile, can barely lift their heads off the desk.

            Those who are “early birds” need to stuff it where the sun doesn’t shine and just accept the freedom of their extra free time in the morning.

        • Carrie

          Like AMC, I still have trouble falling asleep early even if I’m exhausted. It was the same when I was a teen. My routine was to go to bed early every night. However, I’d lay there periodically looking up at the clock telling myself, “If I fell asleep right now, I’d get 7 hours of sleep. . . . I’d I fell asleep right NOW, I’d get 5.75 hours of sleep,” and so on. If you’re trying to say you can disrupt a natural circadian rhythm with willpower, then you’re probably one of those people trying to tell us that if we’d only teach harder, we could overcome poverty, neglect, and less-than-average intelligence to make our students pass stupid tests full of trick questions that are completely meaningless, yet somehow vital.

      • AMC

        My 13 year old plays sports and keeps up on her studies and she is not playing video games all night. She needs to sleep later. I agree 10am is stretching it but 9am sure would help.

    • Unfortunately, what it really means is that athletes will be allowed to miss 2-3 classes a day for many, many days. Why can’t sports take place before school if we start earlier? In that way, the majority of kids won’t be at a disadvantage because of the minority who are athletes. And yes, there are other extra/co-curriculars, but they do not take up anywhere near the time that sports do!

      • Jhunt

        So you think that children are not even able to think that early in the morning, but they can do extremely physical activity at that time? …that seems illogical.
        Do you think that they should have competitions that early in the morning too? That would involve students traveling to another school to compete against an opponent, competing, and then traveling back to their school all before 10AM? …and you think that kids are getting up early now?! …not to mention the fact that non-athletes would miss out on the opportunity to support their classmates as fans at athletic events. Several students at the high school level thoroughly enjoy going to sporting events as an activity. It is great for school spirit and building a community on campus.

        • Yes, I do. If the studies are valid, then I repeat: we are disadvantaging most students to indulge a few for non-academic pursuits.

          • Jhunt

            I think that you have it backwards. There are far more than a few students involved with “non-academic” pursuits. We are talking band, drama, ROTC, academic team, mock trial, chorus, multiple athletic teams, clubs, after school tutorial sessions, clubs, etc. The life of a high school culture extends well past the end of classes on a daily basis. As I mentioned also, a major part of the culture for students is athletic teams. There is a reason why they put so much time and effort in to these things.

            Speaking of valid studies, there are plenty that show that students being involved in these “non-academic pursuits” develop a greater self-worth and end up being more likely to be successful in their classes. As for the validity of this study, I see very little statistically significant evidence to support it. By the simple nature of the topic, longitudinal data would have to be gathered from more than just a few guidance counselors that state their are fewer complaints. Of course, in the early stages, the difference would probably be well perceived, but the schedule would only have to perpetuate itself in the long-run. There is no way around an 7 hour school day, and if you bump back the time, you only shift back every other piece of their schedules. It has little to do with circadian rhythms. How do people that work 3rd shift at a plant manage their schedule? They shift their sleep time to when they are free to sleep, and their bodies adjust.
            The simple fact is that children are not getting enough rest because they are staying up too late doing things they don’t need to. It is not because they are going home and laying in bed with insomnia. Talk to students. I do on a daily basis. They stay up because they have too much stimulus. They stare at computer screens, tvs, smart phones, etc. with Red Bulls and Monster Energy drinks in their hands until 2am. They work jobs until midnight, go home, and go to bed around 2am.

          • The pursuits to which I was referring were athletics only. See some of my other posts.

      • Alvin Brinson

        If you ask me, athletes shouldn’t be allowed to miss more than 1 or 2 days per semester. However, frequently they miss class on a regular basis and teachers are expected to bend over backward to get them their work (or give them a free grade) when they’ve been out.

      • Teddy Qualls

        Why is every statement you make basically condemning athletes. This year, I have not had ANY students out for athletics, but I have had some out for band, choir, FBLA, etc… I’m sure before the end of the year, I will have 1 or 2 days where the athletes get out of maybe 8th period. It’s not that we cater to kids in athletics. It is that we find things that help motivate students. I know several kids that graduated with me that wouldn’t have graduated if they would not have been in athletics.

  • Jill

    Our district’s high schools begin at 8:55 am. While I have noticed fewer high schoolers sleeping in classes than when our start time was 7:55, the complications for after school activities is a real concern. With after school activities running 4:30-? many students (and teachers) aren’t getting home until after 7pm, which complicates schedules for parents and families.

    • BobDole

      Which means sometimes you have to prioritize – what is more important – education or extra curriculars? (I think we know the answer to that in most schools.)

      • Trust me, kids in sports will be missing 3-4 classes/day instead of the 1-2 they now miss on a regular basis. Other extra-curriculars rarely cause students to miss class.

        • Alvin Brinson

          Cut back on constant school sponsored trips and away games. Have students compete vs other students in the school more often, and keep sports within the school day or just after.

          There’s no educational benefit to loading a bunch of kids on a bus during 6th period and driving an hour away every week.

  • Kat

    In my opinion, if schools started at 9am I believe students would do a lot better on tests and the absent problems would go down a lot more. Students tend to get sick more often when they don’t get enough sleep. High School students get a lot of homework and sometimes can’t be in bed buy 9pm. Sometimes they have to finish and they stay up until midnight studying for tests. So if schools started a little later I believe students would do so much better.

  • retiredinthedesert

    I would say “show me the data”. I am tired of reading articles based upon research without being able to determine the reliability and validity of the studies. I would ask the researchers has this always been true? Is it connected to our addiction to electronic devices such as cell phones and especially adolescents love of video games and social media?
    A high school I taught at had a terrible problem with tardiness so they decided to start class at a later time, as late as 10:00 AM on certain days. Not only did it not solve the tardiness problem but there was an increase in absenteeism as student became involved in other activities earlier in the day and didn’t show up at all. But all was good because the administrators decided the problem was the teachers were not “engaging” enough (meaning fun).

    • AMC

      The data is out there. It’s been a recommendation for two decades. Yes, two decades.

    • Robert Tervonin

      lol so your bs anecdote is better than Oxford and Harvard research. ok. The data and methods are available through the link provided. A several page pdf with many references are only a click away. The reason you are so tired is you want it spoonfed. You also have a bias speculating video games and social media as problems. Student in 50s and 60s never stayed up late reading comics under the covers or listening to the radio?

      • Actually, looking at a computer screen before bed makes one less likely to be able to fall asleep. it is NOT the same as reading the printed page. Further, retired’s anecdote is not uncommon, much less “bs” as you choose to label it in what amounts to an ad hominem attack on the writer.

        • RMulier

          Has anyone read about Harvard’s own experiments with this topic? They began video taping classes and making them available to students online. Guess what one of the outcomes was? Students were not showing up to classes? People at Harvard acted befuddled. Hmmm, I could go to class or watch a video of class in the comfort of my room when I feel like it.

          I suppose after analyzing the times that students accessed the videos they determined that students must need more sleep. Did they perform better in these classes because they watch later than the class start time? Or, did the fact that they could watch, start and stop and replay the video contribute to improvements?

          So, this article suggests a start time of 11:00am to 11:30am for freshman. At what point do we begin to, for lack of a better phrase, normalize students to typical job start times? As a sophomore, should students take classes beginning at 12:00-12:30, 10:00-:10:30 or should it remain at the same time as a freshman? Research is also showing that the male human brain not be fully developed until the mid to late 20’s. Perhaps companies than should not allow any male employee to start their job before 11:00am if they want maximum productivity.

          • rachiti

            So anyone who works second or third shift jobs obviously don’t count? I’ve worked 2nd shift for the vast majority of my adult life. It works with my natural sleep/wake much better than rising at 6AM. No amount of “sleep training” when I was student teaching altered that natural wake/sleep rhythm. I still did my best lesson prep at 3AM on the weekends. When I did work 1st shift in retail, I was a zombie until about 10AM whereas when I work 2nd shift it only takes about 30 minutes after waking to feel fully awake and ready for the day. Shoving a round peg into a square hole does not alter the shape of the peg, it only increases resistance.

          • That’s true– everyone is different and some are fortunate enough to find professions that suit their sleep/wake rhythms as well as their passions. Both of which may change several times during a lifetime, of course.

        • rachiti

          Actually, the study that stated the blue light emitted from computer screens can interfere with sleep patterns was based on CRT monitors. Modern screens do not emit light in the part of the light spectrum which can interfere with sleep. Personally, I always bring my phone or Kindle to bed with me. A few minutes of light reading helps me relax and drift off much more readily. If someone cannot put their phone down due to texting or a really “good part” in their book etc. though then yes, no electronics at bedtime.

      • John

        They did stay up late and guess what? They had to drag their butts out of bed and get to school. Difference was that the responsibility was on them and their parents to get the job done. Now the school is supposed to do everything for them, including making sure they get enough sleep. Believe it or not, sometimes Oxford and Harvard don’t get it right…

        • Kelly Hunter

          You are right. The school is responsible for raising kids not the parents.

  • Rollover35

    Wow, NEA, you are good at ticking me off. teacher of 9 years,. The ideas an proposals that come out of the NEA really blow my mind. Is this what my dues are paying for? For research articles and crappy ideas? Teach kids how life will work, when they fail to do work, they fail in class. Stop some of the hand-holding garbage. You are making all teachers who hold the line look like the devil, when in fact we care immensely about our kids. Why dont we push for 220 days of school, so we can keep up with other countries and we dont fall further behind.

    For the wimps who worry about their kid at the bus stop when it is dark, but them a safety vest, a flashlight, or fight your town to put in street lamps. But get your kids to school.

    • Alicia

      Wow for a teacher of 9 years you don’t sound very professional- “For the wimps who worry about their kid at the bus stop when it is dark, but them a safety vest, a flashlight, or fight your town to put in street lamps. But get your kids to school”. That is very harsh to say as an educator. You have your opinion but what the article is trying to say about sleep is important to at least read and understand.

      • Rollover35

        What I want is not to have my Union ask me to do more all the time. what I want the Union to do is tell parents to get the kids to bed on time, for kids to play less sports so academics are more important, and so kids are not up to 11 doing work because practice was more important or drama club ran late. What I want is for our union that specializes in education of students to prioritize the education portion of their job and not placate to parents and society that more laziness is acceptable in kids.

        • Jake

          Boy, a lot of “I want” in that response. As a teacher myself for the past 11 years, I can understand the desire to instill a strong work ethic in students. However, I cannot agree with the argument that delaying start times so as to reach students when they learn best is “placating” to outside interests. If years of extensive research supports the argument that students learn better when schools start later, I would hope that as an educator, you would want to do what is best for students.

          • Mit

            Oh, boy. The tired, ‘what’s best for the students’ argument. What can’t you authorize with that statement? Why don’t we try some accountability at home? Doubt many kids work past 10pm.

          • Jake

            I’m all for accountability at home, Mit. But unfortunately, as teachers, we can’t control what happens outside of the school. What we can do is set up our schedules and classes in such a way that they best promote learning. Although it might be easier to simply adopt the Darwinian model of natural selection and simply dismiss those kids who need to work and whose parents don’t mandate a 9 pm bedtime, as teachers, we don’t have the luxury of saying “Fit my schedule or else.” We have a responsibility to help every child learn, and if there are structural changes we can make to a school schedule that might help accomplish that, I’m all for it.

    • AMC

      School is about the student and their optimal performance time. This “22 year” veteran of biology and mother of a 10 and 13 year old can attest to the study. This idea was brought around when I first began teaching (13 years prior to you graduating college) and it made sense then and still does now. Teens sleep cycle is proven not to begin until about 10pm which means most COULDN’T fall asleep until 11 or 12 even if they try. I hope you have more sympathy for your students on other issues than you do on this one.

      • Rollover35

        Ummm, 13 years prior to me graduating college.your am old dart I guess. I held two careers before joining education. Military and business.

        With people like you ruining things it is no doubt a reason why our education system had to constantly change. .to put in common assessments because you will lower standards because you don’t want to work and you want to have to much sympathy for everything.

        • I find it hard to believe that you are who you say you are, given your writing. I call troll. I may agree with you on some points, but I still call troll.

      • Mit

        Where do you get this stuff? I was in bed at 10 as a teen and up at 6 to go to school and made it just fine. Worked 20 hours and played hockey. What most of you are suggesting is simply coddling. The workplace won’t do that, regardless what your research says.

    • Jay

      Maybe you need to research and find another profession. Teaching may not be for you. We must do what is right for the students, not the teachers.

      • Al

        My son had to catch the bus at 6:30am, and it was horrible. So he just
        quit school, took his GED, and started community college. He’s doing
        great and will transfer to a very good state university in less than a
        year. Teens just need more sleep. With a 9am or even 8:30am start, he
        probably wouldn’t have quit. Fortunately, he loves education, so it
        worked out.

        • Al

          Sorry, Jay. That message was meant to be in support of VocTeach and Alicia. Doesn’t seem like Rollover has had her own teens in school.

      • What is right for the students isn’t always what pleases them.

    • Bryan

      Maybe we should also tuck them in at nap time? Come on and get parents involved with teaching their kids how to get up in the morning. We’re bringing up a generation of kids that are catered to again and again and again…

  • Math4U

    The studies I have read support starting schools later for High School students but Elementary students should have earlier start times. In our rural county this will never happen due to High School sports and practice times, and families using older students to babysit and take care of household chores while the parent(s) are working.

    • Unfortunately, my experience tells me you are right. Sports and procreation continue to take precedence over education.

  • Ed Ucator

    In my District teachers are expected to make “data driven decisions”. Our middle school start time is 7:23 am. Apparently only teachers are supposed to take data into consideration…

  • Michael Terry Megee

    When I was in elementary school school started at 9am and ended at 3pm, but students were at school by at least 8:30 to play and stuff; in jr high we also started at 9 and ended at 3 and after school activities started at 3. In high school, classes started at 8:40, classes were 53 minutes with a 7 min passing period (large campus) and classes ended just after 3pm…Probably half of us were bused to and from school.

  • Yayalinda

    How convenient, now the kids can stay up until late, watching TV, texting, or playing computer games. More time available to pump their brains with useless and dangerous technological distractions. The agenda to destroy our family values continues.

    • Jake

      Easy, there. I think it’s a little fallacious to assume that an article exploring research-based school start times is an attack on “family values,” whatever that means. If anything, this article is advocating for a change to the school day that may actually result in better-educated teens that are more prepared for the post-secondary world. Or, from your perspective, perhaps it’s also one of the signs of the impending apocalypse.

    • They cannot do this if you do not allow these gadgets in their bedrooms, which should be solely for sleeping, IMO. I assume since you talk about “our family” you are referring to your own teens.

  • A Fred

    You push back start time, the kids are gonna go to bed even later. I don’t care what statistics say because you can make stats look anyway you want by manipulating the use of the data. More issues are going to rise if the start time is pushed back.

    • Jake

      You do realize that saying “I don’t care what statistics say” and then asserting your own unqualified claim is one of the most egregious logical fallacies that we should be teaching students to avoid using, right?

      • A Fred

        Actually, back in 1994, when I was in college, one of my statistic classes, we were given a set of data and we were to manipulate the results 4 different ways without manipulating the data. So my unqualified claim is that you can make statistics look any way you want, which I had proven in my class.

  • Pat Corbin Davis

    This adult teacher prefers a later start time. This research has been around since the 60’s . I went to a private high school. The hours were 9:00 to 3:00. I had an after school job and many played sports. Having younger students have the later start forces parents
    to have child care issues before and after school. The young ones have been up for a couple of hours before school starts. I taught in public school. It always seems to revolve around sports and work/study programs.

  • Brian Tabatabai

    I’m holding out hope that none of the comments are being made by educated people. Did any of you actually read the article? Continue to force your round peg into that square hole, that really shows your intelligence. Teachers have to be some of the most close minded least critical people I know.

  • VocTeach

    Facts are facts. Teenagers need more sleep. Give it to them. It would make our jobs as teachers easier. 10:00 is a little drastic but 8:30 or 9:00 is not. We start at 7:20. Waaaay too early for the high school students I see first thing. I’m out at 1:45 pm. I could do 2:45 or 3:oo or 3:15. Still enough time for after school activities (sports should NEVER be a priority BTW but there are other after school activities as well).

    • Sports would have to be done early in the morning, before school. It’s time we stopped disadvantaging the majority of kids for the sake of athletes.

    • Mit

      i think its naive to believe kids would sleep 9-10 hours a night. They’ll stay up later and still come to class tired. My kids (middle & high schooler) go to bed at 9pm and school starts at 7:30. No problems.

      • Alvin Brinson

        You can think it’s naive all you want, but there are plenty of research that shows that yes, the human body does have a rhythm and teenagers need more sleep than adults. The natural cycle that most teenagers fall into puts them waking up about an hour after sunrise – which makes sense. However, 7:20 am start schools put kids getting to school by then – forcing them to wake up often at least an hour earlier at 6:00 or 6:20 am. At this point, their bodies are still trying to sleep. What time they went to bed only has a small impact on this cycle – the biggest influence is light cycles.

  • Chris Moran

    In the last two years specifically, the majority of (high school) students I see in the morning who have struggles with being awake and aware are those who either have jobs that require them to be at work, often times, until 9 or 10 pm, and students who are up until midnight or later gaming. Both of these situations are that of choice and changing school start times to accommodate poor choices is irresponsible. I’m bothered by the articles I read about starting school later that ignore behavioral choices that students, their parents and their employers or coaches might not be tending to.

    I have many students who go to bed early – 9:30 said one freshman girl a couple weeks ago.

    In a few weeks, students here will be getting out of school during early stages of sunset. In the winter, the sun is almost gone already. Late starts will likely lead to less outside time after school as well.

    • Geneva Williams

      Although I agree with later start times, I am extremely disappointed to see that any educator would see students “working…until 9 or 10” as a choice. Yes some kids work for spending money, but in my small, low income community, many of them have to work. Later days are great, credit for actual work is great. They need skills to help in the real world, having a job is NEVER a “poor choice.”

      • Jhunt

        I think what he means is that it is a trade off. If you work a job, it is a path that has been chosen (through necessity or desire) that can only be detrimental to other aspects of their lives (including school). Schools should not need to cater to students that have to work late at night.
        Also, if the schools move start time back, it will move the end time back as well. What do you think is going to happen to their work hours then? Those that NEED jobs will have to quit school so that they can get to their jobs.

        • Chris Moran

          Yes, pretty much.
          Geneva, why not just let the kids work during the day? We could teach them from around 3pm-8pm. Shorter time, but hey, they’ve been up and productive, right?
          I get your point about “needing” to work. I know kids whose income aids the family. I’m sad for that necessity. I think it’s no ok for a kid to be put in that position. THEIR education should come first.
          I have a quite large population of families that are also low income. Most of the students I have that work, however, are working for desire. That should no more be a driving factor behind our teaching schedule than athletics. Athletes are expected to keep up with their studies, no matter how late their return trips home from matches are. As a coach myself, I see that it could be done. I have graded work on the bus ride home – they could be doing work on the bus ride home.

  • Janine Jovet Hernandez

    For those worried about how late after school programs would run, why couldn’t sports be moved before school? Those with the drive to participate would be up and energized from the exertion- ready for the day.

    • Precisely.

      • Rmulier

        Parents typically would not be able to attend their children’s activities. It doesn’t just mean sports. Orchestra, band, choir, the arts like drama and other clubs are typically after school would have to be in the mornings as well.

        • Arts rarely take students out of class. Athletes miss at least one afternoon class a week on average.

  • Janine Jovet Hernandez

    This isn’t new info, many just don’t want the inconvenience of implementing it. Here’s an article from psychology today from 2011. https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/sleepless-in-america/201102/do-later-school-start-times-really-help-high-school-students

  • Sparrow Matheson

    Exactly! I’m am art teacher, and let me tell you, the kids function better when they’re rested and interested. So many art jobs have been cut to focus on core subjects to the exclusion of everything else. In my art classes (way overfilled btw, like 40+kids per class), I don’t have the disciplinary problems core teachers have (I’ve also taught English) because the kids view electives as a fun, creative, break where they will learn new things and techniques they can use forever. The early classes (7:30) are much slower and don’t pick up on the information as quickly as the later classes. I don’t fully wake up until at least 3rd period, even though I’ve been up since 5 to commute over an hour each way to work. I force myself to appear lively. Naysayers, how much attention do you pay when you’re groggy and just going through the motions?

  • StevenRudnick

    What seems to be missing in this discussion are some economic facts of life. Many high-school age kids need to work and hold after school jobs. A later start and finish will create hardships for a lot of students.

  • While I see your point, let’s say I am going to graduate in June of 2016. I am going to start college in August of 2016. What is there in that two months that is going to change me from someone who cannot endure “1hr and 33 minutes classes that only meet 2 or 3 times a week” into one who can be successful when that is the reality for almost all my college courses. Then there are those meeting only once a week for 3-4 hours!

  • But let’s say I am going to graduate in June of 2016. I am going to start college in August of 2016. What is there in that two months that is going to change me from someone who cannot endure “1hr and 33 minutes classes that only meet 2 or 3 times a week” into one who can be successful when that is the reality for almost all my college courses. Then there are those meeting only once a week for 3-4 hours!

  • scott

    This is exactly the stuff that made me cancel my membership. Enable students again and again…

  • TS

    What a crock. Kids will simply go to be later and get up later and nothing will change. We have late start Monday’s in our District and kids still show up late to school! Actually, in our District, attendance doesn’t really matter. You can come to class 81 minutes late to an 86 minute class and the student is ‘tardy!’ What a fraud. No thanks to the later start time. NOTHING would be accomplished.

  • Jacob Westman

    Most districts use one bus company with a limited number of drivers. That is a major reason we have early, middle, and late starts. Economics is a major factor in education otherwise we’d have ten to one student teacher ratios. It’s one thing to speak a truth and another for it to be practical and feasible.

  • School Bus Driver

    So How does this work, If we do not start school till later, The children stay up later at night. then how do we train these children that they have to get up early to go to work when they get older. Our young adults have enough problems because we are not teaching them good behavior and good work ethics now. so just add one more problem to the equation.

  • Common sense

    Students are all in on late starting times until they hear the corollary-late start means school gets out later. As someone false said, it’s not that simple. There are jobs, sports, traffic, and watching younger children. An 8:30 start time seems reasonable…

  • V.Garcia

    School should start around 9am. The safety of the children should be the most important concern. In a city like Houston their are a lot of apartment complexes. The bus starts picking up children around 6:30 am and it is very dark out there. A child can go under the bus the driver wouldn’t know because they can’t see anything with their mirrors because it’s so dark.

  • MB

    While I know very well that little people are up and going bright and early and that they should be in class early, my guess is that even if you change the start times, teenagers are still going to be tired because they are just going to adjust the time they go to bed to even later.

  • ILBusDriver

    I definitely wouldn’t oppose the later start times. As a bus driver I’m at work by 5:50am, and in the winter that time is brutal here in Illinois. I sure wouldn’t mind sleeping past 5am, and if it is better for the kids it’s a win win.

  • Kelly Hunter

    At what time do we teach discipline? Instead we give parents and students more ways to make excuses. When I was growing up my mother gave me a bed time during school hours. And I had discipline.. If I did not go to bed at that time I paid the price the next day. Stop!! As an educator are students have know idea what self discipline is or what it looks like.

  • Glenn Miller

    This isn’t as simple as changing the time. First, let’s be honest with requirements we are placing on students including large number of AP classes, honors, clubs, sports, etc. The workload with those obligations are enormous. Second, some older students need to be around for their younger siblings. Moving the start time only shifts the day, it does not address the problems.
    secondly, teachers are people too. We need to go to doctors and make various other appointments. It’s not like we can take 2 hours to run an errand during the day and then come back to work. And gosh forbid we actually take care of ourselves and our families.
    Lastly, if you live in a highly populated area like I do in suburban DC, the later you start the day, the longer we will all sit in traffic and the worse it will get for others.
    Let’s stop looking at problems with blinders on and shame on the NEA to use my dues to advocate for more sacrifices on my part.

  • Jim Wigington

    Blame should fall where it belongs; on parents. Kids stay awake longer at night texting and emailing each other therefore depriving themselves of much needed sleep. Before technology became an everyday item, this problem didn’t exist. Lock away the phones, laptops, and tablets and watch how this problem vanishes! This is not an area that should be responded to by school districts but rather by responsible parents!

  • Margaret

    Does anyone here remember being an adolescent? I remember staying up ’til midnight during my high school years. Everyone else was in bed (don’t know how my parents stood it). I just didn’t want to go to bed. I am completely different now – in bed by 9PM and up at 5AM.

  • Housaa

    It really is difficult, here high school starts at 8:30 and runs until 3, I think that is a good time frame. I remember HATING middle school because by the time I got off the bus it was 5 (school got out at 4:15) and the sun would be going down. I felt like the whole day was gone and it made me hate going to school. Though there are benefits to an early schedule as well, after school curricular activities, sports, or in my case in Highschool, jobs. I am not sure where I stand based on those things.

  • HSEnglishteacher

    The biggest reason my students are exhausted and sleepy is they are allowed to work in fast food joints that make them work until closing. Some are paying for the nice things in life, but several are contributing to household expenses.

  • 4praz75

    “Despite PROVEN Benefits”…nothing is proven with statistical studies, only supported or contradicted. If you don’t understand that, why should we place credence in anything this article has to say?

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