Should School Start Later In The Morning?

New study cites "clear benefits for students whose high schools start at 8:30 a.m. or later."

By Ryan Bonner

If we do one thing to give our teenagers better mental health, better test scores and keep them safer from car crashes — shouldn't we do it? 

Maybe we can. A new study from the University of Minnesota says all this and more are "clear benefits for students whose high schools start at 8:30 a.m. or later."

"This would include, for teens who reported they got at least 8 hours of sleep per night, that they were more likely to say they have good overall health and were less likely to report being depressed or using caffeine and other substances (e.g., alcohol, tobacco, other drugs," the study concludes. "Other positive findings include a significant reduction in local car crashes, less absenteeism, less tardiness, as well as higher test scores on national achievement tests." 

And in fact, school districts across the country have pushed back high school opening times in the face of growing evidence of the benefits of later start times for students.  

Not everyone is in favor of a later school day start, however. The New York Times reported that many parents, and some students object, saying a later start "makes sports practices end late, jeopardizes student jobs, bites into time for homework and extracurricular activities, and upsets the morning routine for working parents and younger children." 

You can read the full University of Minnesota study here.

Should high schools open later? Share your thoughts in the comments section below. 

Karen Toth March 25, 2014 at 10:34 AM
Later start times, the nine-weeks-on-three-weeks-off making for year round schooling, better lunch foods, etc. will take a major overhaul of how America "sees" itself functioning, but these really ought to be considered... so many other ripples of employment, better use of technology, improved overall health of Americans, etc. would happen, too. If only we would believe... but we're all too tired and sleep deprived to actually think about these changes and ways to make them reality!
sklogw March 25, 2014 at 05:12 PM
sarah connor March 31, 2014 at 04:47 PM
Its a yes or no question...again with the opinions and sarcasm YES...!
Karen Toth March 31, 2014 at 09:14 PM
America was founded on debate of opinions, and the right to do so in a public forum. ..
Ephraim Fithian July 21, 2014 at 05:20 AM
Opening hours for high school students is made for the convenience of the schools, not the students. Public elementary and secondary education is pretty much a waste of time for talented students. They put up with it. College gives students the opportunity to pick and choose courses in which they have some interest, and at times they find reasonable. No one in their right mind would schedule a college art course, for art majors, that begins at 8 am. Art majors don't awaken until at least 11 am, since they are up most of the night, doing art. That is just the way it is. High school students do not go to bed at 10 pm like us old farts. How can they get 8 hours of sleep if they have to be at the bus before 7 am? Elementary students go to bed early and can get up early for school, and still get 8 hours of sleep. They should start school before high school students.


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