Benefits of Later Start Times For High School

Will it happen any time soon at LHS?

A typical tired teenager abhors getting up early in the morning for school. Courtesy of Google.

Photograph: Jamie Grill/Getty

A typical tired teenager abhors getting up early in the morning for school. Courtesy of Google.

Emma Deeter, Editorial Editor

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A growing number of high schools across the nation are beginning the school day later in the morning thanks to scientific research that says teens perform better academically if they can sleep in.

According to the National Educational Association, “researchers at the University of Washington worked with two schools in Seattle to determine if there was any correlation between between the change and academic performance specifically.”

The result? After the later start time, students were more alert and engaged in class, absences and tardiness decreased, and final grades increased by 4.5 percent. Students got about 34 minutes of extra sleep.

“This study shows a significant improvement in the sleep duration of students, all by delaying school start times so they’re more inline with the natural wake-up times of adolescents.” said Horacio de la Iglesia, a University of Washington researcher to NPR News.

According to the National Sleep Foundation, teens need an average of 9 1/4 hours of sleep each night but most get less than seven. Teens are biologically wired to stay up later at night and rise later in the morning compared to other age groups. Early start times for most high schools actually conflict with the teenage biological clock. Will this research convince the Lancaster City School District to implement a later start time for the high school? Dean of students, Mr. Spangler, said the issue has been discussed in the past.

Mr. Spangler says later school start times isn’t as simple as it appears.

“The major contributing factor to all of our school start time is transportation,” he said.“Our buses have to be available to also transport Elementary and junior high students as well. It may force the junior highs and elementary [schools] to make their start times earlier or later.”

A later school start time would also mean a later ending time. That means that sporting events, student work shifts, and school activities would also be delayed.

“A large percentage of our students also work,” he said. “Often they work in retail and fast food. Many of our students begin their work shifts at 3, 4, or 5 pm,” said Mr. Spangler.

Mr. Factor says later start times may work if planned well.

 

While some school sponsored programs have long practices after school, one teacher seems to think the idea isn’t far-fetched.

“Currently, marching band rehearses are immediately after school. A later school day would push rehearsals later in the evening, but could certainly work out,” said Mr. Factor.

“It depends on how the time is utilized by students. If students got more sleep, it could most certainly increase productivity. On the other hand, it could also cause many students to do homework later, work later, and stay up later. Anything could work, but it would take a lot of careful planning and discussion.”