Pediatrician: Later School Start Times Could Boost Achievement

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Could shifting school schedules help teens succeed?

Pediatrician Aaron E. Carroll thinks so. In a blog published by New York Times in 2016, the doctor cites research showing that later start times are linked to higher rates of attendance and achievement among high school students.

Teenagers need about nine to 10 hours of sleep a night, Carroll writes. But, in many cases, extracurricular activities and homework — combined with an early school start time — make it difficult for teens to catch enough zzz’s.

The American Academy of Pediatrics has called on high schools to convene classes no earlier than 8:30 a.m. But in many districts, high school students need to board the school bus before 7 a.m. to make their first class, Carroll noted.

Adopting later start times has been linked to a multitude of benefits.

In addition to increasing the likelihood that students come to school well-rested, one 2014 study showed that start times of 8:30 a.m. or later were “associated with improvements in a number of subjects, as well as state and national achievement test scores,” Carroll writes.

Sleep deprivation is an American problem, he notes. Shifting school start times would help address the issue among teens.

“There’s no good reason school has to start this early, and starting it later might improve the amount of sleep teenagers get,” Carroll writes. “…We could fix this problem for (teenagers).”

Do you think high school students would benefit from later school start times? Share your thoughts in the comment section below.

Admitted writer/editor Mary Stegmeir welcomes additional comments and story ideas at mstegmeir@nacacnet.org.

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