School start times for high schoolers is in the news! As a 15 year old who never gets enough sleep, I found myself drawn to this topic. Would I do better in school if the school day started later? As research studies come pouring in, there is evidence that when high schools start the school day later, there are improved student test scores, and significant increases in student health and safety. Research also magnifies the difficulties in changing school start times. Things like bus schedules and after-school sports can keep school districts and communities from making a change in school start times that could be so valuable for teenagers.
According to the Master Of Arts In Teaching Guide, a study that included 9,000 highschool students, conducted by the University Of Minnesota, found that grades and test scores advanced significantly when school start times switched to later hours. The same study found that starting the school day later also improved school attendance. A side benefit was that more students had time to eat breakfast. Amy Morin (LCSW) quoted from the AAP’s Adolescent Sleep Studies that there are harmful effects of sleep deprivation. Teenagers need 8.5 to 9 hours of sleep per night. Without those hours of sleep there is increased risk of car accidents due to drowsy driving and driving before the sun comes up. Lack of sleep also leads to poor academic performance. The psychological risks of sleep deprivation, according to HealthLine, include impulsive behavior, depression, paranoia, and increased suicidal thoughts.
However, tradition makes it difficult for school districts to alter school start times. According to the AAP’s Adolescent Sleep Studies, problems with the school district bus schedule, after school activities, and sporting events can have a domino effect on all the schools in the district. Parents would have to adjust to the new schedule, as well. Daycare times for younger students would need to be adjusted. And while that may be inconvenient, having teens in school later in the day may have an upside. According to the Master Of Arts In Teaching Guide, teens having less alone time at home could prevent unhealthy activity choices.
After researching this topic, I am definitely in favor of delaying school start time for high schoolers. The evidence is overwhelmingly positive, justifying making the change. Who wouldn’t appreciate a little more sleep,a good breakfast, better grades and higher test scores? Vehicular safety among teens would likely improve. Giving students a later start time would provide them with the benefit of improved mental and physical health. Monticello should consider later start times for the highschool and middle school.
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