Friday, August 7, 2020
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Later h.s. start times bring gains for students

Starting high school later in the morning has been linked to an increase in graduation rates and in attendance, District Administration magazine reported earlier this year, citing new research published in the journal Sleep Health in February.

After studying more than 30,000 students in eight districts across seven states, researcher Pam McKeever of Central Connecticut State University said her study attempted to focus on quantitative data, rather than on simple facts about the brain, hormone levels, and sleep patterns among adolescents.

Did the change to a later start time help students in any way? she asked, along with her colleagues.

“Start with the science, and begin the conversation,” the magazine quoted Jeff Platenberg, assistant superintendent of facilities and transportation services at Fairfax County Public Schools in Virginia, as saying. “What does the research mean for your community and what must change?”

Results showed that the delayed start time increase average attendance from 90 percent to 94 percent and graduation rates from 79 percent to 88 percent across the entire sample.

In addition to improvements in academic outcomes, other research over the years has shown that starting high school later—the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends starting after 8:30—has improved sleep and reduced the frequency of car accidents for students.

Paul Katula is the executive editor of the Voxitatis Research Foundation, which publishes this blog. For more information, see the About page.

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