No cost way to better teaching

Eric Jaye's picture

One more article on how starting school just a little later in the morning helps high-school students improve academic performance. Quote from the piece. Particularly with budgets so tight - this is the kind of no cost/very low cost reform the SFUSD should be looking at.

" A number of studies in the past decade have compared high schools and middle schools with different starting times, finding that even a half-hour later start can improve student dropout and attendance rates and help students concentrate. In one study, there was even a drop in the number of crashes due to drowsiness while driving."

bobbyh's picture


This is the kind of data-driven reform that our government has to take notice of and move quickly to implement.  Everyone complains about why our school system is failing us, so when we are given concrete ways to improve how we educate youth, supported by hard data that has clearly better outcomes, let's get moving on it!  I would love to see SF take the lead here and make a change of policy to start schools later.  Or at least, as our local government loves to do, let's do a review of the impact this change would have and consider it.

The article didn't mention tardiness or truancy, but I wonder what the effect of a later start time would have on reducing late comers to class and/or kids just skipping class all together.  I bet there is definitely a correlation there and we would see improvement in those categories as well. 

Ben Shore's picture

This makes all the sense in

This makes all the sense in the world. I never understood why there seemed to be such a hesitation to move starting times back. I remember in high school we had one day a week where we started an hour later - and it made a tremendous difference. Like it stated in the article, when students are able to wake up a little later, they'll often go to sleep a little earlier - which I remember doing. This seems to be one of those issues that schools and school districts are afraid to employ because it goes against the status quo of the last century. But in times like these, looking for no/low cost ways of improving schools is an especially smart approach. Pushing school starting times back a little would probably have other benefits, like stagnating morning traffic with commuters.

LZamora30's picture

18 minutes of sleep? Not worth it.

Although starting school back would help students get more sleep, one must think of the consequences for the students as well. Creating a new start time would possibly be a problem for transporting the student to school. If a parent's job starts earlier in the morning (I'm assuming for most parents that it is 8 - 12:00 AM), they may have problems taking their child to work. Of course, a child can also carpool or take the bus; however, this can still be a problem nonetheless. In addition, there are also school sports to take into account. For high school students, there are usually sporting events that start 30 minutes to an hour after school. If school started later and ended later, school sports can cut into class time. Also, after school sport practices can possibly run up to 2 hours a practice. This means that students will go home later, and it will be harder to complete homework in a given amount of time (and after sports, it is tiring). In high school especially, sports are a BIG part of their lives and they often help students keep their GPA up. Often, students are only passing classes in order to play sports. If school is ended earlier, students would leave a class earlier if they were in a sport or other activity, and that is not the point for education. In addition, students are going to take the later start time into account. For the late night procrastinators, they will just sleep later. This may be untrue for some students, but it is true for some. Being young and recently in high school, 18 minutes of extra sleep is hardly worth it.  

Honestly, a real solution to this problem is to just start sleeping earlier. The system would not be changed, and the student would get more sleep, and thus more energy! :)

bobbyh's picture

Not later days

I agree with sports being a big part of student life, but in the article Eric posted, it said that the school days in the study were not extended so there wouldn't be the issues you mentioned re: sports practices:

"The school day at St. George’s was not extended. Instead, five to 10 minutes were cut from classes, assemblies and afternoon activities to make up the difference."

In fact, a later start time wouldhelp with keeping kids fresh for their sports practices. 

LZamora30's picture

Even with that bobbyh, you

Even with that bobbyh, you have to think about how much more Rhode Island students get in terms of how much money the government gives them. They're rated #6 while us Californians are rated #47. Also that quote seems a little sketchy; I mean, five to ten minutes from each class? With that, I feel like schools would be robbing me of my education. I mean, I'd rather just sleep earlier (and sleeping is not hard after an estimated two hours+ of homework). That's five to ten minutes teachers can spend teaching - and believe me, teachers will ALWAYS find something to do within that time.

But really, maybe it's just the amount of funding there is in education nowadays that is holding students back from succeeding. Of course, that fact can be discussed elsewhere in this forum. :)

mattgould's picture

great thread...

I know that I could have used some extra time to get ready in the morning during high school. Yes, getting to sleep earlier in the night is the easy answer, but some people are night owls while others are early birds. I feel another angle on this is how schools inherently acclimate students to operate in the "real world," and part of this is reforming one's biological clock around a structured schedule.

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