Should Your School Day Start Later?

Should Your School Day Start Later?

Find all our Student Opinion questions here.

Do you get enough sleep during the school year? If not, what keeps you from being well rested?

Do you wish your school day started later? In your opinion, what would be the advantages and drawbacks of a later start time?

In “California Tells Schools to Start Later, Giving Teenagers More Sleep,” Christine Hauser and Isabella Kwai write about a new California law that pushes back start times at most public middle and high schools. The law cites research that says attendance and performance will improve if teenagers get more sleep. The article states:

The passage of the law followed years of mounting calls for later school start times from sleep experts who said such a move would optimize learning, reduce tardiness and contribute to overall well-being. The law encourages districts to publish research on their websites about the impact of sleep deprivation on adolescents.

A frequently cited policy statement from the American Academy of Pediatrics, made in 2014, called insufficient sleep for adolescents a “public health issue” and recommended that most schools start no earlier than 8:30 a.m. The American Academy of Sleep Medicine agreed.

In one 2006 poll from the National Sleep Foundation, 45 percent of adolescents in the United States said they slept for an insufficient length of time on school nights, and 19 percent of students said they fell asleep in school at least once a week.

Another study, published in 2017 by the University of Minnesota, which surveyed 9,000 students across five school districts with varying start times, found that those who started school later slept more. Students who had more sleep reported better mental health outcomes and less use of substances like alcohol and cigarettes. Students who slept more also had improved attendance and enrollment rates, and they were less likely to drive while drowsy.

About 90 percent of high schools and 80 percent of middle schools in the nation start before 8:30 a.m., the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said in 2014.

Students, read the entire article, then tell us:

  • Do you feel like you get enough sleep?

  • What would be your ideal time to start the school day? What about to end the school day? Why?

  • How would changing your school’s start and end times affect activities like sports, clubs and part-time jobs?

  • Anthony J. Portantino, a Democratic state senator who wrote the bill, calls later start times for schools a “magic bullet” when it comes to education. What are your thoughts on this? Can later start times really improve things like test scores, attendance and graduation rates? Explain.

Students 13 and older are invited to comment. All comments are moderated by the Learning Network staff, but please keep in mind that once your comment is accepted, it will be made public.