Backgrounder: Later School Start Times

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pm day to an 8:40 am-3:20 pm day in Minneapolis

A 7:25 am-2:10 pm day to an 8:30 am-3:10 pm day in Edina

RESULTS

The Center for Applied Research and Educational Improvement (CAREI) at the University of Minnesota conducted a study on the impact of changing school start times on academic performance, behavior and safety in urban and suburban schools (Wahlstrom, 2002). Results from three years of data from both Edina and Minneapolis showed:

  • Improved attendance
  • Increase in continuous enrollment
  • Less tardiness
  • Students making fewer trips to the school nurse

In suburban districts, students reported:

  • Gaining an average of about one hour of sleep per night, since their bed times stayed the same even after the start time change.
  • Eating breakfast more frequently
  • Being able to complete more of their homework during school hours, because they were more alert and efficient during the day.

Grades showed a slight improvement, although the change was not statistically significant. Researchers noted that it was difficult to assess changes in grades due to differences in school schedules, course names, grading policies, student transience, and the subjective nature of grading by teachers.

Suburban teachers and principals reported:

  • Students seemed more alert in class.
  • Improvements in student behavior, with a calmer atmosphere in the hallways and cafeteria.
  • Fewer disciplinary referrals to the principal.

Suburban counselors reported:

  • Fewer students seeking help for stress relief due to academic pressures.
  • Fewer students coming to them with peer relationship problems and difficulties with parents.

Urban teachers, on the other hand, did not see any general improvement in student behavior.

In suburban schools, after-school athletic and other activity practices and rehearsals were shortened, with students arriving home later; however, actual participation in extracurricular activities and after-school jobs remained at the same level after the start time change. Urban schools, on the other hand, reported fewer students being involved in extracurricular activities, as well as conflicts with after-school jobs and compromised earnings. While some coaches whose sports involved long practices and traveling long distances for events disliked the change, most coaches and activity leaders supported the change because they felt students were