Incognizant “Educators”

September 23, 2011 § Leave a comment

“Adults, unaware of the sleep needs of adolescents, require them to start school earlier in the day than is required of younger children.”—Sanford Dornbusch, Ph.D., Professor emeritus of Sociology, Stanford University. (Dornbusch, Sleep and Adolescence: A Social Psychologist’s Perspective, publish. in, Adolescent Sleep Patterns, Biological, Social, and Psychological Influences (Carskadon, edit., Cambridge Univ. Press 2002) p. 3.) All school districts claim as a goal the provision of a setting ideal for learning, no matter when morning classes may begin. The Vista Unified School District, for example, purports to offer its student a “Blueprint for Educational Excellence and Innovation.” Starting the district’s three largest high schools during the 7 o’clock hour would appear to belie the promise of “Educational Excellence and Innovation[,]” given that: (a) “[e]arly school start times reduce performance among disadvantaged students by an amount equivalent to having a highly ineffective teacher[]” (Jacob & Rockoff, Organizing Schools to Improve Student Achievement: Start Times, Grade Configurations, and Teacher Assignments (Sept. 2011) Hamilton Project, Brookings Inst. p. 5); and, (b) scientists have urged later secondary school scheduling for two decades or more. (Colrain & Baker, Changes in Sleep as a Function of Adolescent Development (2011) 21 Neuropsychology Rev., p. 13, quoting Terman & Hocking, The sleep of school children; its distribution according to age, and its relation to physical and mental efficiency (1913) J. Educational Psychology, p. 271; Carskadon, Vieira, & Acebo, Association between puberty and delayed phase preference (1993) 16 Sleep 3, 258-262.) Hollow platitudes may serve some purpose in marketing schools, but offer no indication whether the decision to schedule early school hours may be predicated upon indifference, politics, or wishful thinking. School leaders electing to expound upon the rationale supporting early school scheduling offer insight the plight of U.S. education today.

Mark-Twain-quote

CALIFORNIA — In July 2014, it was announced that Adelanto High School in the Victor Valley Union High School District would advance its start time from 8:10 a.m. to 7 a.m. for 2014-2015. Victor Valley High School and University Preparatory also start at 7 a.m. The opening bell at the Cobalt Institute of Math and Science rings at 7:42 a.m., and the Goodwill Education Center begins morning classes at 8 a.m. Zero period at Silverado High School starts at 6:58 a.m., first period at 8 a.m. In August 2014, employee-district negotiations resulted in retention of Adelanto’s 8:10 a.m. start time. When asked about the district’s early school scheduling, Superintendent Ron Williams stated, “I haven’t looked at the research in a while, but I know based on previous research, teens would fare a little better …. But we also have to think about tradition.” (Self, Back to school: Local teens early to rise (Aug. 9, 2014) Daily Press; Self, Changes coming to Adelanto High School (Jul. 21, 2014) Daily Press.) Apparently Victor Valley promotes a “tradition” of undermining the health, well-being, and potential of students. “[E]arly school start times clearly contribute to sleep-deprivation in growing teens, making them even more vulnerable to all the challenges of adolescence, and increases the likelihood of accidents, psychological problems, and impaired learning in school.” (O’MalleyO’Malley, School Start Time and Its Impact on Learning and Behavior, publish. in, Sleep and Psychiatric Disorders in Children and Adolescents (Ivanenko edit., Informa Healthcare 2008) pp. 84, 88.)

In January 2012, Rio Americano High School teachers voted on whether to modify their contract to permit a start time change from 7:50 a.m. (zero period begins at 6:50 a.m.) to 8:20 a.m. The school’s (now expired) Later Start Times Information page noted the teachers’ approval was needed for “any change of five minutes or more[.]” Parent group STEPS (Support to Engage Parents and Students) had pressed for later start times since February 2011, holding informational forums, making presentations to faculty, etc. Teachers opposed to the change “attacked the research” proffered by STEPS, voting against the proposal, 57% to 43%. Principal Brian Ginter commented, “The research suggests that their scores are going to be better, but that doesn’t always mean the student’s well rounded, that doesn’t always mean that what you’re getting is what you really want out of the students. You have to balance test scores with the type of education you want the kids to have.” Computer Sciences teacher Tom Sullivan focused on another problem, stating, “I have to commute a lot to get here, and I’d just be sitting in traffic longer.” (Daniel Wetter, What We’re Watching: Some Communities Reluctant to Start School Later (Jun. 21, 2012) Education Next; Hartman, Proposal to Change School Start Time (Jan. 27, 2012) The Mirada.) “Studies of later start times have consistently reported benefits to adolescent sleep, health and learning using a wide variety of methodological approaches. In contrast there are no studies showing that early starts have any positive impact on sleep, health or learning.” (Kelley, Lockley, Foster, & Kelley, Synchronizing education to adolescent biology: ‘let teens sleep, start school later’ (Aug. 1, 2014) Learning, Media and Technology, p. 11.)

“No matter what the research says, [former] San Mateo County Superintendent of Schools Floyd Gonella [, Ed.D.,] said he has no plans to allow Peninsula students to sleep in. ‘Trying to adjust school times to sleep patterns has no validity,’ Gonella said. ‘And even if it does, scientific facts come out and then three days later, there’s another study countering that.’ “ (Fernandez, Politician Hopes to Reawaken Sleep Legislation (Mar. 25, 1999) SFGate.com.) The biological basis for phase delay in adolescents has been confirmed repeatedly since 1993. (Hagenauer, Perryman, Lee, & Carskadon, Adolescent Changes in the Homeostatic and Circadian Regulation of Sleep (Jun. 2009) 31 Developmental Neuroscience 4, 276-284; Crowley, Acebo, & Carskadon, Sleep, circadian rhythms, and delayed phase in adolescence (2007) 8 Sleep Medicine, 602-612; Carskadon, Vieira, & Acebo, Association between puberty and delayed phase preference, supra, 16 Sleep 3, 258-262.)

CANADA — As part of a cost-saving review of 25 schools, Orchard Park Secondary School and four other public and Catholic schools will have their 2012-2013 start times altered. Orchard Park will advance its start time by 30 minutes to 8 a.m. Teachers, students, and parents voiced their opposition at a June 6, 2012 public meeting. The Hamilton-Wentworth District School Board reported the change will save $150,000 per year and see the use of 12 fewer buses. Two other high schools, Waterdown and Saltfleet, advanced to an 8 a.m. start time last fall. The board stated the change cannot be turned back and that everyone will get used to it. Tenth graders Hailey Dymond and Sandra Mpofu presented a petition signed by 500 of about 1,100 students. The students cited changes to academic performance, breakfast disruption, an increase in stress, increase in obesity, and possibly, an increase in suicides. McMaster Assistant Clinical Professor of Medicine Raymond Gottschalk, who runs a sleep disorder clinic in Hamilton, advised that “the 30-minute change will have a huge impact on students’ academic performance and their morale at school. He said it is well documented and that some boards that have implemented later bell times have seen improvements in students. ‘This is really counter-productive. It’s a very ill-advised recommendation.’ ” (Nolan, Alarm being sounded on early bell times (Jun. 7, 2012) The Spectator.)

CONNECTICUT — In order to save $500,000 in busing costs, the Fairfield Public Schools Board of Education advanced high school start times from 7:50 a.m. and 7:40 a.m. to 7:30 a.m. Anne Pasco, President of the Fairfield Education Association, said the extra 20 minutes given to Warde High students, who started school at 7:50 a.m., and extra 10 minutes for Ludlowe High students, who started at 7:40 a.m., was an inequity between the schools and didn’t mean students used that extra time to sleep. Pasco concluded: “When those students go to bed is not within the control of the board, and, as they get older, is not within the control of parents. $500,000 is a lot of money to allocate to give a child an opportunity if he wants 10 minutes more of sleep a day or 20 minutes.” (Brophy, Board of Ed Approves $148.5m Budget for 2011-12 (Jan. 26, 2011) Fairfield Patch; Lang, Proposed Fairfield schools budget calls for 4.9 percent spending increase (Jan. 20, 2011) ctpost.) As noted in the main text: (a) 8:30 a.m. is the earliest start time recommended by any sleep expert (discussed here); (b) students in schools which have delayed start times get significantly more sleep than their earlier starting peers (discussed here); (c) most teens are unable to fall asleep much before 11 p.m. so that advancing start times invariably reduces sleep time (discussed here and here); (d) obtaining even 11.4 additional minutes of sleep per night provides a “statistically significant” benefit (Dexter, Bijwadia, Schilling, & Applebaugh, Sleep, Sleepiness, and School Start Times: A Preliminary Study (2003) 102 Wis. Medical J. 1, pp. 42-46; see also, Perkinson-Gloor, Lemola, & Grob, in press, Sleep duration, positive attitude toward life, and academic achievement: The role of daytime tiredness, behavioral persistence, and school start times (Jan. 2013) J. Adolescence, pp. 1-8 [discussing value of 20 minute delay]; and, (e) “… on school days, adolescents are obtaining less sleep then they are considered to need, and school start time is the factor with the greatest impact.” (Knutson & Lauderdale, Sociodemographic and behavioral predictors of bed time and wake time among U.S. adolescents aged 15–17 years (Mar. 2009) 154 J. Pediatrics 3, p. 430.)

FLORIDA — In December 2013, in response to a bill introduced in the Florida Legislature on September 23, 2013 by Republican Representative Matt Gaetz proposing no high school begin morning classes before 8 a.m., Sumter County Schools Superintendent Richard Shirley wrote, “With all due respect, surely there are more significant issues in the state of Florida than micro-managing school starting dates and now school starting times…?” (Fitzpatrick, Superintendents concerned about start time proposal (Dec. 2, 2013) Tampa Bay Times.) Given that five studies now associate early high school scheduling with increased automobile accident rates among teen drivers — the leading cause of death in this population (see, § III.D., supra) — and given that three studies now associate later start times with decreased reports of depression, notable because depression is inextricably related to adolescent suicidal ideation (see, III.B., supra), and suicide represents the third leading cause of death in this population (see, III.C., supra), what issues might be “more significant”? Reiterating Associate Professor Vorona’s observation: “Most of us in sleep medicine now believe that teenagers require nine-plus hours of sleep each night, and the consequences of insufficient sleep include excessive daytime sleepiness, mood disorders, and even potential suicidal ideation[.] [¶] Many of us think that early high school start times could be problematic and may be a major determinant of these high rates of accidents and fatalities, and that later start times would be more in tune with teenagers’ circadian rhythm[.]” (APSS: Later School Start Times May Cut Teen Car Crashes (Jun. 11, 2010) Medpage Today.) In addition, now that multiple studies by economists plainly establish that adolescent academic achievement is undermined by classes beginning before and even at 8 a.m., what “educator” would schedule classes earlier? (See, Cortes, Bricker, & Rohlfs, The Role of Specific Subjects in Education Production Functions: Evidence from Morning Classes in Chicago Public High Schools(2012) 12 B.E. Journal of Economic Analysis & Policy 1, Art. 27, pp. 1-34; Edwards, Early to Rise? The Effect of Daily Start Times on Academic Performance (Dec. 2012) 31 Economics of Education Rev. 6, pp. 970-983; Carrell, Maghakian, & West, A’s from Zzzz’s? The Causal Effect of School Start Time on the Academic Performance of Adolescents (Aug. 2011) 3 Am. Economic J.: Economic Policy 3, pp. 62-81.)

A June 8, 2013 article appearing in “the roar,” the West Shore Jr./Sr. High School student paper, reports that Principal Rick Fleming has proposed advancing the school start time by one hour to 7:45 a.m. Apparently the proposal stems from a concern that the loss of district transportation means more students will be driving. All other high schools in the Brevard Public Schools District begin at 8:45 a.m. Therefore, to reduce traffic congestion during the 8 o’clock hour and increase student safety, Fleming suggests an earlier start time. (Martin, Early school start proposal widens eyes (Jun. 8, 2013) the roar.) Under Fleming’s plan, students will be driving while melatonin pressures them to sleep. (Later Start Times for High School Students (Jun. 2002) Univ. Minn.) Again, five studies now associate early school schedules with increased crash rates among adolescents, the leading cause of death in this population. (See, § III.D., supra.) In addition, academic performance, particularly for disadvantaged students, will be substantially undermined. (See, § III.A., supra.)

In order to save approximately $888,000 in transportation expenses, Hernando County School Board Superintendent Bryan Blavatt proposed the board synchronize bell schedules. On July 31, 2012, the board voted unanimously to approve a new schedule which would advance high school start times from as late as 9:15 a.m. to 7:30 a.m. and 7:15 a.m. With the exception of Hernando (9:15 a.m.), all middle schools will begin at 7:30 a.m. According to Blavatt, “In the past we took the easy way out and made modifications, but still kept the same basic schedule. This method is more scientific [than a Ouija board] and allows us to maximize the use of our buses.” (Schmucker, Superintendent urges synchronizing school bells (Jul. 26, 2012) Hernando Today, italics and bracketed material added; cf. TroxelThe high cost of sleepy teens (May 23, 2012) Pittsburgh Post-Gazette [Wendy Troxel, a RAND Corporation behavioral and social scientist, and Assistant Professor of Psychiatry at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, joined by more than 50 colleagues, cautioned Pittsburgh Public Schools that advancing high school start times by 30 minutes to 7:36 a.m., or by 60 minutes to 7:06 a.m., would exact a greater human and fiscal toll than the $1.2 million expected to be saved by adjusting bus schedules].)

GEORGIA — Following its designation as a “low achieving school,” Robert W. Groves High School in the Savannah-Chatham County Public School System lengthened the school year by two weeks and lengthened the school day by 20 minutes, adding 5 minutes to the end of the day and starting school at 7:30 a.m.; i.e., 15 minutes earlier than in 2010-2011. (Tyus-Shaw, Earlier School Start for Groves High (Jun. 30, 2011) WSAV.com.) For 2012-2013, all other district high schools will also advance to 7:30 a.m.; middle schools to 7:45 a.m.; K-8 schools, will start at 8:30 a.m. “School Board President Joe Buck[, Ed.D.,] pointed out that local colleges don’t have any trouble filling their early morning classes with recent high school graduates, so they shouldn’t have any trouble getting high schoolers into theirs. [¶] ‘It may just be that when you tell them what they have to do, they will do what they are supposed to do,’ Buck said.” (Editorial, School start times: Board botches it (Jan. 11, 2013) Savannah Morning News; Few, Savannah-Chatham school bells ringing earlier (Jul. 16, 2012) Savannah Morning News; Ley, New Bell Schedule Approved for the Savannah Chatham School District (Jul. 11, 2012) WSAV3.) Students generally do follow adult directives, however imprudent, likely resulting here in significant sleep-deprivation (Ming, Koransky, Kang, Buchman, Sarris, & WagnerSleep Insufficiency, Sleep Health Problems and Performance in High School Students (Oct. 20, 2011) 2011 Clinical Medicine Insights: Circulatory, Respiratory & Pulmonary Medicine 5, pp. 71-79; Millman, edit., Excessive Sleepiness in Adolescents and Young Adults: Causes, Consequences, and Treatment Strategies (Jun. 2005) 115 Pediatrics 6, p. 1776 [“students who start school at 7:30 a.m. or earlier obtain less total sleep on school nights because of earlier rise times”]), and, as noted infra, increased risk of driving accidents, increased rates of depression, and diminished academic performance, particularly for disadvantaged students.

On June 4, 2012, Carrollton City Schools announced via its district news page that 2012-2013 elementary and middle school (grades 4-5) start times will be delayed 25 minutes to 8:10 a.m., while junior high (grades 6-8) and high school start times will advance by 30 and 35 minutes, respectively, to 7:45 a.m. The change will include later dismissal times for elementary and middle school students, increasing instructional time by one hour. The change is intended to “positively impact academics” for junior and high school students by reducing class time lost to participation in extracurricular activities. According to superintendent Kent Edwards, Ph.D., “In the end, the decisions weren’t difficult to make. The new schedule is instructionally driven and will support student performance the most.” The available research suggests the new schedules will undermine, rather than enhance, academic achievement, particularly for disadvantaged students. (See, e.g., Edwards, Early to Rise? The Effect of Daily Start Times on Academic Performance, supra, 31 Economics of Education Rev. 6, pp. 970-983 [summarized in article, here]; Jacob & Rockoff, Organizing Schools to Improve Student Achievement: Start Times, Grade Configurations, and Teacher Assignments, supra, pp. 5-11, 21, n. 7; Carrell, Maghakian, & West, A’s from Zzzz’s? The Causal Effect of School Start Time on the Academic Performance of Adolescents, supra, 3 Am. Economic J.: Economic Policy 3, pp. 62-81.)

In order to accommodate transportation requirements for the opening of a new school, the City Schools of Decatur school board evaluated plans to shift school schedules. Decatur High School Principal Lauri McCain emailed parents defending a plan to advance the high school schedule by 50 minutes to 7:45 a.m. McCain explained the earlier start time “will allow our faculty to move early morning activities to more student, teacher, and family-friendly times in the afternoon and help our large population of athletes get home earlier after practice. [M]oving up practices and game departures by just 15 minutes will reduce stress on coaches, athletes and their families. [¶] When given the choice to be the first school to start or the last, the above reasons weighed heavily in my preference for an earlier start time. … I believe the students will successfully adjust. [¶] Some of our neighboring high schools start earlier-or within 15 minutes of that time. I am confident Decatur’s students will be able to do so as well.” (Loupe, Decatur High School Principal Defends Earlier Start Time (Apr. 12, 2011) Decatur-Avondale Estates Patch.) The evidence rather strongly suggests that students do not adjust (Backgrounder: Later School Start Times (2011) Nat. Sleep Foundation; CarskadonWhen Worlds Collide: Adolescent Need for Sleep Versus Societal Demands (Jan. 1999) 80 Phi Delta Kappan 5, p. 351), and that student well-being and academic performance will be undermined rather than improved. (Carrell, Maghakian, & West, A’s from Zzzz’s? The Causal Effect of School Start Time on the Academic Performance of Adolescents, supra, 3 Am. Economic J.: Economic Policy 3, pp. 62-81; Vorona, Szklo-Coxe, Wu, Dubik, Zhao, & Ware, Dissimilar Teen Crash Rates in Two Neighboring Southeastern Virginia Cities with Different High School Start Times (Apr. 2011) 7 J. Clinical Sleep Med. 2, pp. 145-151; Owens, Belon, & Moss, Impact of Delaying School Start Time on Adolescent Sleep, Mood, and Behavior (Jul. 2010) 164 Archives Pediatrics & Adolescent Med. 7, 608-614.)

ILLINOIS — On September 9, 2014, Alderman Margaret Laurino (39th Ward) submitted a resolution asking Chicago’s Committee on Health and Environmental Protection to “conduct hearings providing information on sleep deprivation in teenagers and explore [the] possibility of later school start time across Chicago Public Schools” (CPS). An April 27, 2012, district memo advises that all CPS high schools will be assigned a start time between 7:30 a.m.-8:30 a.m.; elementary schools will start between 7:45 a.m. and 8:45 a.m. Responding to the alderman’s resolution, CPS Spokesman Bill McCaffrey stated, “While we have noted that studies on start times are often contradictory and changes in school start times can impact other aspects of the school day, Chicago Public Schools is happy to participate in a City Council hearing on this matter[.]” McCaffrey was echoing Mayor Rahm Emanuel, who is charged with appointing the CPS school board and Chief Executive Officer (CEO). On August 26, 2014, the mayor challenged the wisdom of the American Academy of Pediatrics Policy Statement concerning secondary school start times, stating the research was “preliminary” and “not conclusive[.]” CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett echoed the mayor’s sentiments: “There’s a lot of research and it’s all pretty contradictory about children needing to start their high school day at a later start time. And I don’t think the research is conclusive on that.” With more than 400,000 students, Chicago Public Schools is the third largest school district in the U.S. (Cox, Should Sleep-Deprived Teens Get Later CPS Start Time? Hearings Sought (Sept. 10, 2014) DNAinfo Chicago; Spielman, Pediatricians’ warning won’t force CPS to push back start times (Aug. 26, 2014) Chicago Sun Times.) As noted supra, Harvard Medical School, University of Oxford, and University of Nevada scientists recently observed: “Studies of later start times have consistently reported benefits to adolescent sleep, health and learning using a wide variety of methodological approaches. In contrast there are no studies showing that early starts have any positive impact on sleep, health or learning.” (Kelley, Lockley, Foster, & Kelley, Synchronizing education to adolescent biology: ‘let teens sleep, start school later’, supra, Learning, Media and Technology, p. 11.) The Brookings Institute 9 a.m. start time recommendation was influenced by the poor attendance and performance of Chicago Public Schools high school students beginning morning classes at 8 a.m. (Jacob & Rockoff, Organizing Schools to Improve Student Achievement: Start Times, Grade Configurations, and Teacher Assignments, supra, pp. 8, 21, n. 7, citing Cortes, Bricker, & Rohlfs, The Role of Specific Subjects in Education Production Functions: Evidence from Morning Classes in Chicago Public High Schools, supra, 12 B.E. Journal of Economic Analysis & Policy 1, Art. 27, pp. 1-34.)

INDIANA — Warren Central High School Principal Rich Shepler announced 2011-2012 start times will advance from 7:35 a.m. to 7:20 a.m. in “response to our need to increase student achievement. [¶] We wanted to utilize every minute of the day to give our kids more of an opportunity — especially kids struggling to pass (standardized tests).” Teacher’s union president Dan Henn questioned the wisdom of the earlier start time, noting research indicates that older students perform better when school starts later in the morning. (McCleery, Warren Central students to return to class Monday — and with earlier start time  (Jul. 28, 2011) INDYSTAR.COM.)

LOUISIANA — Iberville Parish Schools Superintendent Ed Cancienne, Ph.D., has proposed advancing 2012-2013 high school start times by one hour to 7:30 a.m. due to coaches’ concerns that athletes are missing afternoon classes and extracurricular activities. School board member Brian Willis responded, “Honestly, I think it’s great we’re doing this. It might not work, but let’s try it.” (Assoc. Press, Iberville school chief suggests new starting times (May 15, 2012) dailycomet.com.)

MARYLAND — When a petition to push back the present Montgomery County Public Schools 7:25 a.m. high school start time to 8:15 a.m. or later had gathered more than 5,000 signatures, Superintendent Joshua Starr advised that the school board will probably take up the issue in the near future. Walt Whitman High School Principal Alan Goodwin stated that he is “opposed to changing the start time and thinks that moving it later in the morning would cause more problems than it would solve. [¶] Goodwin thinks that students are more likely to go bed later if they know they can sleep an extra hour in the morning. [¶] [H]e considers the problem of sleepy teens to largely be a parenting issue.” Thomas S. Wootton High School Principal Michael Doran asserts: “ ‘It’s not like what we’ve got wasn’t working, is not working, and there’s going to be a disaster. If there were real issues with grades and learning, this would come up more often with educators.’ ” (Rasicot, Not Everyone Thinks MCPS High Schools Should Start Later (Nov. 2, 2012) Bethesda Magazine; Gartner, Montgomery County to consider later start times for high schools (Oct. 24, 2012) The Examiner; Gartner, Montgomery parents push for later start times for high schools (Oct. 17, 2012) The Examiner.) “Early school start times reduce performance among disadvantaged students by an amount equivalent to having a highly ineffective teacher. [¶] The earliest school start times are associated with annual reductions in student performance of roughly 0.1 standard deviations for disadvantaged students, equivalent to replacing an average teacher with a teacher at the sixteenth percentile in terms of effectiveness.” (Jacob & Rockoff, Organizing Schools to Improve Student Achievement: Start Times, Grade Configurations, and Teacher Assignments, supra, Hamilton Project, Brookings Inst. pp. 5, 7.) Again, “… on school days, adolescents are obtaining less sleep then they are considered to need, and school start time is the factor with the greatest impact.” (Knutson & Lauderdale, Sociodemographic and behavioral predictors of bed time and wake time among U.S. adolescents aged 15–17 years, supra, 154 J. Pediatrics 3, p. 430.) As to impending “disaster[s,]“ perhaps the gentlemen should consider these observations from Professors Wolfson and Carskadon: “Undoubtedly, high school students have an extremely difficult task to obtain an optimal (~9.2 hours) or adequate (~8.5 hours) amount of sleep on school nights when schools start very early in the morning. Many teenagers are behaviorally and physiologically not ready to fall asleep until 11:00 p.m. or later and are biologically programmed to be asleep when school begins. As a consequence, many students fall asleep in early morning classes, and they may also fall asleep behind the wheel driving to school.” (Wolfson & Carskadon, A Survey of Factors Influencing High School Start Times (Mar. 2005) 89 Nat. Assn. Secondary School Principals Bull. 642, p. 49.) Automobile accidents represent the leading cause of death in this population. (CDC, Injury Prevention & Control: Motor Vehicle Safety, Teen Drivers: Fact Sheet.) Delayed start times (8:30 a.m. and later) have been consistently associated with diminished rates of automobile accidents among teens (Vorona, Szklo-Coxe, Wu, Dubik, Zhao, & Ware, Dissimilar Teen Crash Rates in Two Neighboring Southeastern Virginia Cities with Different High School Start Times, supra, 7 J. Clinical Sleep Med. 2, pp. 145-151; Foss, Smith, Shi, & O’Brien, School Start Times and Teenage Driver Motor Vehicle Crashes (Oct. 2010) Highway Safety Research Center, Univ. N.C., Chapel Hill; Danner & Phillips, Adolescent Sleep, School Start Times, and Teen Motor Vehicle Crashes (Dec. 2008) 4 J. Clinical Sleep Med. 6, pp. 533–535), “a strong reason in itself to change school start times.” (Cline, Do Later School Start Times Really Help High School Students? (Feb. 27, 2011) Psychology Today.) In addition, the diminished sleep associated with early start times increases the risk of suicidal ideation and completed suicide among vulnerable students. (Eaton, McKnight-Eily, Lowry, Croft, Presley-Cantrell, & Perry, Relationships between hours of sleep and health-risk behaviors in US adolescent students (Aug. 5, 2011) Preventive Med., pp. 1-3; Sleep Experts Concerned About St. Paul Start Time Change (Jun. 3, 2011) CBS.) Suicide represents the third leading cause of death among U.S. adolescents, in recent years accounting for 10% or more of all teen fatalities. (Miniño, Xu, & Kochanek, Deaths: Preliminary Data for 2008 (Dec. 9, 2010) 59 Nat. Vital Statistics Rep. 2 [2.7% adult suicide rate]; CDC Nat. Vital Statistics System, Mortality Tables.) Reducing depression and the attendant suicidal ideation in teens has become a public health concern. (Owens, et al., Impact of Delaying School Start Time on Adolescent Sleep, Mood, and Behavior, supra, 164 Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Med. 7, p. 613.) As to whether students will simply stay up later if the start time is delayed, multiple studies support this CDC finding: “Delaying school start times is a demonstrated strategy to promote sufficient sleep among adolescents.” (Eaton, McKnight-Eily, Lowry, Croft, Presley-Cantrell, & Perry, Prevalence of Insufficient, Borderline, and Optimal Hours of Sleep Among High School Students – United States, 2007 (2010) J. Adolescent Health, p. 3.)

MASSACHUSETTS — At an April 24, 2012 Amherst Regional Public Schools Committee meeting convened to address the superintendent’s plan to delay the present 7:45 a.m. middle and high school start time, Committee member Kip Fonsh, stated, “I don’t know enough about this to make such a dramatic change with such a profound impact. I don’t see evidence of a positive impact on teaching and learning. There’s an assumption that more sleep leads to academic achievement, but no research makes a compelling case for a causal connection. This is ultimately an issue that belongs under the roofs of the houses and apartments of families.” (Grabbe, Amherst Regional School Committee begins debating later school start time (Apr. 25, 2012) Daily Hampshire Gazette.) Two weeks later, on May 8, 2012, Mr. Fonsh reiterated his opposition, arguing, “‘The research ignores the social context and doesn’t pay enough attention to the details of adolescents’ lives,’ … adding that sugar and caffeine intake may contribute to their sleep problems.” (Grabbe, More questions raised about school start time in Amherst (May 9, 2012) Daily Hampshire Gazette.) Actually, a causal relationship between later start times and improved academic achievement appears to be at least reasonably well established. (Carrell, Maghakian, & West, A’s from Zzzz’s? The Causal Effect of School Start Time on the Academic Performance of Adolescents, supra, 3 Am. Economic J.: Economic Policy 3, pp. 62-81; Edwards, Early to Rise? The Effect of Daily Start Times on Academic Performance, supra, 31 Economics of Education Rev. 6, pp. 970-983; see also, BuckhaltCan Later Start Times Affect School Achievement? (Sept. 30, 2012) Psychology Today [citing Edwards’ study as “direct evidence” of the “measurable significant effect” of later start times on adolescent academic achievement.].) As to social factors such as sugar and caffeine, studies show that adolescent consumption of these substances increases as sleep decreases. (Weiss, Xu, Storfer-Isser, Thomas, Ievers-Landis, & Redline, The Association of Sleep Duration with Adolescents’ Fat and Carbohydrate Consumption (Sept. 2010) 33 Sleep 9; Yang, Sleep Deprivation Affects Teen Appetites (Sept. 3, 2010) Harv. Crimson; Pollak & Bright, Caffeine Consumption and Weekly Sleep Patterns in US Seventh-, Eighth-, and Ninth-Graders (Jan. 2003) 111 Pediatrics 1, 42-46; Sleep Needs, Patterns and Difficulties of Adolescents: Summary of a Workshop, Workshop (Graham, edit., Nat. Academies Press 2000) p. 18.) “For all students one of the most salient—and correctable—social factors contributing to student sleep deprivation, is school start times.” (O’Malley & O’Malley, School Start Time and Its Impact on Learning and Behavior, publish. in, Sleep and Psychiatric Disorders in Children and Adolescentssupra, pp. 79, 84.) “If sleep loss is associated with impaired learning and health, then these data point to computer use, social activities and especially school start time as the most obvious intervention points.” (Knutson & Lauderdale, Sociodemographic and behavioral predictors of bed time and wake time among U.S. adolescents aged 15–17 years, supra, 154 J. Pediatrics 3, p. 430.)

A citation- and science-free commentary by parent and Associate Professor of Education and Public Policy Kathryn A. McDermott also challenges the proposed Amherst Regional Public Schools plan to delay middle and high school start times, currently set at 7:45 a.m. “Routinely starting the school day later will, most likely, affect when but not how much the secondary students sleep and does not seem worth the logistical challenges and potential child-care costs for working families. [¶] I’m not convinced that a one-hour delay in the secondary start time would make enough of a difference to be worth the financial and other costs it would entail.” Dr. McDermott characterized the “early start time” as a “relatively small part of the problem” of adolescent sleep deprivation. (McDermott (Jan. 24, 2012) My two cents on the proposed changes to Amherst school start times.) Dr. McDermott appears to suffer many of the same misapprehensions noted for Ms. Pasco, supra. Moreover, Dr. McDermott offers no reference to, nor any discussion of, recent studies finding fiscal benefits to schools and students when school begins later. (Jacob & Rockoff, Organizing Schools to Improve Student Achievement: Start Times, Grade Configurations, and Teacher Assignments (Sept. 2011) Hamilton Project, Brookings Inst., pp. 5-11, 21; Carrell, et al., A’s from Zzzz’s? The Causal Effect of School Start Time on the Academic Performance of Adolescents, supra, 3 Am. Economic J.: Economic Policy 3, pp. 62-81; Edwards, Early to Rise? The Effect of Daily Start Times on Academic Performance, supra, 31 Economics of Education Rev. 6, pp. 970-983.) In addition, “in any school district where the start times are changed, it is likely that those directly and indirectly involved in the school system will need to make some degree of sacrifice for the benefit of the students.” (Kirby, Maggi, & D’Angiulli, School Start Times and the Sleep-Wake Cycle of Adolescents: A Review and Critical Evaluation of Available Evidence (Mar. 2011) 40 Educational Researcher 2, p. 59, italics added.) After all, “schools are scheduled early for adult convenience: there’s no educational reason we start schools as early as we do.” (Bronson & Merryman, Nurture Shock: New Thinking About Children (Twelve Books 2009) p. 37, citing Professor Mark Mahowald.)

In 2008, a group of teachers and parents appointed by the Northampton Public Schools School Committee to explore a later start time for Northampton High School students recommended a one hour delay from the current 7:30 a.m. start time. In 2010, the principal presented a plan to begin classes at 8 a.m. Budget issues and “complex” scheduling problems have sidelined implementation of any new school schedule. When the issue was addressed at a November 10, 2011 school committee meeting, Brian Salzer, Ed.S., the committee’s unanimous June 2011 selection as new superintendent from a field of 23 applicants, “did not mince words when he told committee members that changing the start time at the high school ‘is not a top priority of the administrative team and it is not a top priority on my list. If you would like it to be, you will have to give me direction.’ “ The matter was tabled until January 2012, at which time it was further delayed until 2013 to allow additional study of costs, busing, and the impact on “programmatic priorities.” On June 13, 2013, the school committee voted 7-2 to implement a high school start time between 8 a.m. and 8:30 a.m. no later than September of 2014. In January 2014, Interim School Superintendent Regina Nash pledged to resolve the issue of a later start time at Northampton High School before a new schools chief is hired in July. Nash essentially proposes switching middle and high school schedules, advancing the JFK Middle School start time by 25 minutes to 7:30 a.m., and delaying the high school start time to 8 a.m. (Solow, Northampton interim School Superintendent Regina Nash rekindles later start time debate  (Jan. 8, 2014) Daily Hampshire Gazette; Editorial, Change the start time already (Apr. 24, 2011) Daily Hampshire Gazette; Herrell, Been there, done that (Apr. 17, 2012) Daily Hampshire Gazette; Editorial, Dithering on school start (Jan. 21, 2012) Daily Hampshire Gazette; Solow, Northampton School Committee delays vote on high school start time  (Nov. 11, 2011) Daily Hampshire Gazette; Superintendent Blog, Brian Salzer named new Northampton school superintendent (Jul. 13, 2011) Northampton Public Schools; Solow, Issue Tracker: Slow going for advocates of later high school start time (May 9, 2011) Daily Hampshire Gazette; see also, Hanauer, Good evidence, but no action (Nov. 15, 2011) Daily Hampshire Gazette.)

In December of 2010, the Lexington Public Schools Committee considered delaying the current 7:45 a.m. high school start time. Superintendent Paul Ash opposed the move, explaining, “I’m convinced this would require a massive amount of work, and implementing the change would be huge. I’m not aware there is any evidence that this produces a positive change in learning. It could have a positive effect, but is it worth the time? I think it’s not something we should look into right now.” (Pickering, School Committee Discusses High School Start Time (Dec. 15, 2010) Lexington Patch, italics added; Lexington High School, Schedule.) Even before the findings of economists Edwards and Carrell, et al., demonstrated direct evidence and the causal effect of later start times on improved academic performance, respectively (discussed here), in 2009, Kyla Wahlstrom, Director of the Center for Applied Research and Educational Improvement (CAREI), noted, “trend lines show grades rise when schools open later. We never see trend lines suggesting grades go down.” (Lamberg, High Schools Find Later Start Time Helps Students’ Health and Performance (2009) 301 J. Am. Med. Assn. 21, p. 2200.) According to Mel Riddile, M.Ed., Ed.D, Associate Director for High School Services, National Association of Secondary School Principals, and former state (Virginia) and National Principal of the Year, schools adhering to early scheduling follow a simplified strategic plan. “You know a school or a school district is in trouble when the strategic plan follows the principles of the ABC School of Management–Administration By Convenience. One of the best indicators of an adult-focused environment, one that is practicing the principles of ABC, is when research is blatantly ignored in favor of current practice.“ (Riddile, Time Shift: Is your school jet-lagged? (Mar. 14, 2011) Nat. Assn. Secondary School Principals, Principal Difference; Tanner, Study Shows Teens Benefit from Later School Day (Jul. 5, 2010) Assoc. Press [“It’s about adult convenience, it’s not about learning”].)

MICHIGAN — The superintendent of Dearborn Public Schools, Brian Whiston, is reported to have stated “the research has shown that later start times help students initially, but the benefit quickly fades over time.” (Hetrick, Dearborn high schools looking at more flexible start times (Feb. 28, 2012) Press & Guide.) CAREI researchers found that 4 years into their longitudinal study, students in Minneapolis high schools (8:40 a.m. start time) continued to get 5 more hours sleep per week than their peers in schools starting earlier in the day (7:30 a.m.). (Wahlstrom, Changing Times: Findings From the First Longitudinal Study of Later High School Start Times (Dec. 2002) 86 Nat. Assn. Secondary School Principals Bull. 633, pp. 4, 18.) Two recent studies show improved academic performance among adolescent students over 5-year (Carrell, et al., supra, A’s from Zzzz’s? The Causal Effect of School Start Time on the Academic Performance of Adolescents, supra, 3 Am. Economic J.: Economic Policy 3, pp. 62-81) and 7-year periods. (Edwards, Early to Rise? The Effect of Daily Start Times on Academic Performance, supra, 31 Economics of Education Rev. 6, pp. 970-983.) Researchers have also consistently found an association between reduced driving accidents and later start times (8:30 a.m. and later) over multi-year periods. (Vorona, Szklo-Coxe, Wu, Dubik, Zhao, & Ware, Dissimilar Teen Crash Rates in Two Neighboring Southeastern Virginia Cities with Different High School Start Times (Apr. 2011) 7 J. Clinical Sleep Med. 2, pp. 145-151; Danner & Phillips, Adolescent Sleep, School Start Times, and Teen Motor Vehicle Crashes (Dec. 2008) 4 J. Clinical Sleep Med. 6, pp. 533–535.)

MISSISSIPPI — In March 2013, the Hattiesburg Public School District announced that beginning in the fall, middle school start times will be advanced by one hour to 7:30 a.m. Superintendent James Bacchus announced the change would be made in order to free students for extracurricular activities. (Ciurczak, HHS, N.R. Burger start times to change (Mar. 6, 2013) Herald-Index.) As discussed herein and elsewhere (e.g., § III; Appendix F, infra, Middle School Studies, etc.), there is good evidence demonstrating that middle school students, like their older peers, may experience significant negative health and academic consequences when an early school start time is imposed. “[T]he negative impact of early start times persists over time.” (Edwards, Early to Rise? The Effect of Daily Start Times on Academic Performance, supra, 31 Economics of Education Rev. 6, p. 981.) By contrast, “[t]he benefits of a later start time in middle school appear to persist through at least the 10th grade.” (Edwards, Do Schools Begin Too Early?, supra, 12 Education Next 3.)

MISSOURI — “I can Google right now, and come up with research that will say just about anything. This isn’t an open debate.”—Bruce Major, Parkway Schools Board Member, after students argued the plan to advance high school start times to 7:35 a.m. runs counter to findings from studies conducted in other districts. (Calhoun, Dissent Doesn’t Defer Changes in Parkway Schools’ Start Times (Sept. 22, 2011) CBS St. Louis.)

NEW JERSEY — On November 19, 2012, the Cherry Hill Public Schools Board of Education voted unanimously to advance 2013-2014 middle and high school start times by 30 minutes to 8 a.m. and 7:30 a.m., respectively, despite “the impassioned plea of parents” opposing the change. They cite studies suggesting teens learn better with a good night’s sleep and worry that Cherry Hill students already are stressed out and sleep-deprived. The board approved the start time advance after contract negotiations with teachers resulted in the addition of 30 minutes to the school day. In a statement at its website, the district reports that the new schedule reflects its concern “about the impact on after-school activities, especially inter-scholastic sports at the high school level, if we added the time at the end of the day.” In addition, the district “considered the impact on students who have after-school jobs that help support their families and/or their college savings.” Retaining tiered busing was also a “key consideration.” Superintendent Maureen Reusche stated the township’s school system has a shorter day than “other high-quality districts in the state. If an opportunity [arises] to engage in quality instruction for a longer period of time, I’m going to pursue that. I don’t see how [starting earlier] is going to add more pressure on students.” In October 2013, after the 7:30 a.m. start time went into effect, school board member Lydia George-Koku stated, “Sleep deprivation has been described as a serious problem among all students at each grade level[.]” According to George-Koku, teachers and students feel like “collapsing” during class and by the end of the day they are “very drained.” Susan Bastnagel, spokeswoman for the school district, said the board and administration value feedback, but the change was made to provide increased opportunities for student learning. “The district believes strongly that additional instructional time is always beneficial,” Bastnagel said. (Dunn, For some, earlier school days are cause for alarm (Oct. 3, 2013) Courier-Post; Riordan, Controversy over Cherry Hill’s new earlier school day (Nov. 30, 2012) philly.com; Dunn, New teachers contract approved in Cherry Hill (Nov. 19, 2012) Courier-Post; Walsh, Earlier classes to benefit Cherry Hill student-athletes (Nov. 18, 2012) Courier-Post.) ”American teenagers will tell you that they are on a first-name basis with stress, and scientific studies bear this out.” (Gall & Stixrud, The 4 S’s of Adolescent Success (Summer 2008) Nat. Assoc. Indep. Schools.) Using an average self-reported nightly sleep duration of eight to nine hours as a reference, a 2010 study of older adolescents and young adults (17-24) found a “linear association between sleep durations of less than eight hours and psychological distress.” (Study Links Shorter Sleep Durations with Greater Risks of Mental Distress in Young Adults (Aug. 30, 2010) Am. Academy Sleep Med.) The increase in levels of distress reported over the past decade may reflect “temporal changes in young people’s sleep patterns.” (Glozier, Martiniuk, Patton, Ivers, Li, Hickie, Senserrick, Woodward, Norton, & Stevenson, Short Sleep Duration in Prevalent and Persistent Psychological Distress in Young Adults: The DRIVE Study (2010) 33 Sleep 9, p. 1144.) Department Chair and Professor of History and Education at New York University, Jonathan Zimmerman, wrote an editorial challenging the wisdom of the decision, asking readers to consider, inter alia, “[H]ow much virtue is there in sending all our kids to school before they’re awake enough to learn, just so some of them can play more sports? What does that say about our character as citizens, taxpayers, and parents?” (Zimmerman, Class time, not nap time (Nov. 28, 2012) philly.com.) While increasing instructional time is a laudable goal, as discussed throughout this page and elsewhere at this site, advancing start times will undermine rather than improve achievement and well-being. (See, TroxelThe high cost of sleepy teens, supra, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette; Jacob & Rockoff, Organizing Schools to Improve Student Achievement: Start Times, Grade Configurations, and Teacher Assignments, supra, Hamilton Project, Brookings Inst., pp. 5, 7; O’MalleyO’Malley, School Start Time and Its Impact on Learning and Behavior, publish. in, Sleep and Psychiatric Disorders in Children and Adolescents, supra, pp. 79-94.) As Professor Zimmerman points out, the board’s decision also appears to elevate sports above sleep and academic performance. (Zimmerman, Class time, not nap time, supra, philly.com.) Ironically, sleep-deprived athletes (see, e.g., Samuels, Sleep, Recovery, and Performance: The New Frontier in High-Performance Athletics (2008) Neurologic Clinics 26, pp. 169-180) are incapable of attaining peak athletic performance. (See, e.g., Study Shows Sleep Extension Improves Athletic Performance and Mood (May 29, 2009) Am. Academy Sleep Med.; see also, Mah, Mah, Kezirian, & Dement, The Effects of Sleep Extension on the Athletic Performance of Collegiate Basketball Players (2011) 34 Sleep 7, pp. 943-950; Walker & Stickgold, It’s Practice, with Sleep, that Makes Perfect: Implications of Sleep-Dependent Learning and Plasticity for Skill Performance (2005) 24 Clinical Sports Med., pp. 301-317.)

Wile Coyote -- bad plan

Following its designation as a “persistently lowest-achieving” school, Camden High School added 95 minutes to the school day, advancing start times from 8:20 a.m. to 7:45 a.m. Camden City Public Schools Assistant Superintendent Andrea Gonzalez-Kirwin commented, “The students had a hard time adjusting to going in early.” Gonzalez-Kirwin believes the new schedule results in student tardiness because parents are dropping off the younger siblings first. (Vargas, A new (and longer) day: Camden High School adjusts to its new academic schedule (Oct. 2, 2011) philly.com.) “This advance of the school day is in direct conflict with a putative pubertal/adolescent phase delay.” (CarskadonWolfson, Acebo, Tzischinsky, & Seifer, Adolescent sleep patterns, circadian timing, and sleepiness at a transition to early school days (Dec. 15, 1998) 21 Sleep 8, p. 872.) “School schedules are forcing them to lose sleep and to perform academically when they are at their worst.” (Hansen, Janssen, Schiff, Zee, & Dubocovich, The Impact of School Daily Schedule on Adolescent Sleep (Jun. 2005) 115 Pediatrics 6, p. 1560.) So far, only by carefully controlling exposure to light, including utilizing eyeshades to exclude evening light, have scientists successfully modified the delayed sleep patterns of adolescents. (Backgrounder: Later School Start Times, supra, Nat. Sleep Foundation; Carskadon, When Worlds Collide: Adolescent Need for Sleep Versus Societal Demands, supra, 80 Phi Delta Kappan 5, p. 351.) Otherwise, adolescents simply get “so used to the feeling of sleepiness that they don’t recognize that they are settling for less than they are capable of in creativity, academic performance, and communication both in and out of the classroom.” (Rauch, What is Normal Sleep for Children and Adolescents? publish. in, Attention Deficit Disorder: Practical Coping Mechanisms (Fisher, edit., Informa Healthcare, 2nd ed. 2007) p. 175.) Early start times have been associated with increased truancy/tardy rates. (Wolfson, Spaulding, Dandrow, & Baroni, Middle School Start Times: The Importance of a Good Night’s Sleep for Young Adolescents (Aug. 15, 2007) 5 Behavioral Sleep Med. 3, pp. 204, 205.)

NEW YORK — Pearl River Middle School in the Pearl River School District will advance its 2012-2013 start time by 15 minutes to 7:30 a.m. to create more time between the end of classes and dismissal at the district’s elementary schools. Pearl River Middle School Principal Maria Paese stated: “I think it’s going to be a matter of getting everybody used to it. I know 15 minutes doesn’t sound like a long time, but some people need that 15 minutes.” (Buncher, Pearl River Middle School Moves Up Start Time (Aug. 31, 2012) Pearl River Patch.) While it’s true that every 15 minutes counts (CarskadonWolfson, Acebo, Tzischinsky, & Seifer, Adolescent sleep patterns, circadian timing, and sleepiness at a transition to early school days (Dec. 15, 1998) 21 Sleep 8, pp. 871-881; see also, Bronson, Snooze or Lose (Oct. 7, 2007) N.Y. Magazine, web p. 2), as noted in discussing Ms. Andrea Gonzalez-Kirwin’s misapprehensions, supra, the only thing students get “used to” is the feeling of being sleep-deprived. Among adolescents, “daily feelings of anxiety, depression, and fatigue are the most consistent psychological outcomes of obtaining less sleep at night.” (Fuligini & Hardway, Daily Variation in Adolescents’ Sleep, Activities, and Psychological Well-Being (2005) 16 J. Research on Adolescence 3, p. 371.)

Beginning with the 2012-2013 academic year, the Webster Central School District will advance high school start times from 7:30 a.m. to 7:25 a.m. and middle school start times from 8:25 a.m. to 7:40 a.m. and 7:30 a.m. When asked about the new start times, Chief Human Resource Officer Carmen Gumina responded that the district has done the research: “What we found was if you’re going to move to a later start time, it was, there might be a difference for high school kids, really didn’t see any difference with middle school.” (Arnold, Webster Schools Will Have Earlier Start Times (Feb. 3, 2012) 13Wham.) The biological basis for phase delay at puberty’s onset has been known since 1993. (Andrade, Benedito-Silva, Domenice, Arnold, & Menna-Barreto, Sleep Characteristics of A Longitudinal Study (1993) 14 J. of Adolescent Health, pp. 401-406; Carskadon, Vieira, & Acebo, Association between puberty and delayed phase preference, supra, 16 Sleep 3, 258-262.) Physicians have urged eliminating early starting hours for teenagers since 1994. (Minn. Med. Assn. Letter to Superintendent Dragseth (Apr. 4, 1994) Edina Pub. Schools.) In 2004, scientists specifically identified middle schoolers as benefiting from a delay in morning classes. (FredriksenRhodes, Reddy, & Way, Sleepless in Chicago: Tracking the Effects of Adolescent Sleep Loss During the Middle School Years (Jan./Feb. 2004) 75 Child Development 1, p. 94.) In the years since, multiple studies have recognized students benefit from later middle school start times. (See, e.g., Edwards, Early to Rise? The Effect of Daily Start Times on Academic Performance, supra, 31 Economics of Education Rev. 6, pp. 970-983; Jacob & RockoffOrganizing Schools to Improve Student Achievement: Start Times, Grade Configurations, and Teacher Assignmentssupra, pp. 5-11, 21; Lufi, Tzischinsky, & HadarDelaying School Starting Time by One Hour: Some Effects on Attention Levels in Adolescents (Apr. 2011) 7 J. Clinical Sleep Med. 2, pp. 137-143; Wolfson, et al., Middle School Start Times: The Importance of a Good Night’s Sleep for Young Adolescents, supra, 5 Behavioral Sleep Med. 3, p. 204.)

“There’s still something that doesn’t click for me.”—Karen McCarthy, Ph.D., former superintendent of Westchester Schools, after declining an initiative to start district high schools later. (Bronson & Merryman, Nurture Shock: New Thinking About Children, supra, p. 37.)

NORTH CAROLINA — In August 2014, the Durham Public Schools School Board discussed a district report analyzing the impact of a 30 minute delay in the schedules of all students; i.e., moving most middle and high schools to 8 a.m. and elementary schools to 9:30 a.m. School board Vice Chairwoman Minnie Forte-Brown agreed with her colleagues that not getting enough sleep can have negative impact on students, but said later start times won’t guarantee students will get more sleep.“I hear you, but I’m thinking as a high school kid that if I don’t have to get up to 8 o’clock, I can stay up later[.]” Forte-Brown stated that highly qualified teacher in the classroom is going to make the biggest impact on student achievement. “I think when we look at it, a good teacher in the classroom, an excellent teacher in the classroom is going to determine whether our children do well or not[,] no[t] what time they get to school[.]” (Childress, No late start times for the 2015-16 school year (Aug. 17, 2014) The Herald Sun.) Again, following a delay in the start of morning classes, the evidence overwhelmingly establishes that the great majority of students use the additional time for sleep, not play. (See, § IV.D., supra.) And while the value of a good teacher cannot be underestimated, Forte-Brown fails to appreciate that even great teachers cannot undo the adverse effect of early school scheduling. Again, economists report: “Early school start times reduce performance among disadvantaged students by an amount equivalent to having a highly ineffective teacher.” (Jacob & Rockoff, Organizing Schools to Improve Student Achievement: Start Times, Grade Configurations, and Teacher Assignments, supra, Hamilton Project, Brookings Inst. p. 5.)

Kannapolis Intermediate School (grades 5-6) in the Kannapolis City Schools District will advance its 2012-2013 start time by 15 minutes to 7:15 a.m. Principal Rob Knuschke explained the decision to change the school schedule as “the most logical choice since the middle school starts at 7:15 a.m. It’s early for kids, but the least intrusive for parents and the district.” (Campbell, Kannapolis Intermediate students starting school a week late (Aug. 23, 2012) salisburypost.com.) Even pre-adolescent fifth grade students reported significant sleep deprivation when a 7:10 a.m. start time was imposed. (Epstein, Chillag, & Lavie, Starting times of school: effects on daytime functioning of fifth-grade children in Israel (May 1998) 21 Sleep 3, 250-256.) In addition a recent longitudinal study found that adolescent changes in sleep (delayed sleep phase and disrupted sleep) commence prior to the physical changes associated with puberty. (SadehDahlShahar, & Rosenblat-Stein, Sleep and the Transition to Adolescence: A Longitudinal Study (2009) 32 Sleep 12, pp. 1602-1609; see also, Carskadon, Vieira, & Acebo, Association between puberty and delayed phase preference, supra, 16 Sleep 3, 258-262.) Mild sleep loss produces marked deficits in cognitive development and functioning in school-age children. (Bub, Buckhalt, & El Sheikh, Children’s Sleep and Cognitive Performance: A Cross-Domain Analysis of Change Over Time (Sept. 2011) Developmental Psychology 6, pp. 1504–1514; Primary Schoolchildren That Sleep Less Than 9 Hours Do Not Perform as Well Academically, Study Suggests (Sept. 13, 2011) Science Daily; Sleep Restriction Affects Children’s Speech (Jun. 27, 2007) Am. Academy Sleep Med.) Kannapolis middle school students, particularly disadvantaged students, will also likely be undermined academically by the 7:15 a.m. start time. (Edwards, Early to Rise? The Effect of Daily Start Times on Academic Performance, supra, 31 Economics of Education Rev. 6, pp. 970-983.)

Robbie Adell, [Ed.D.,] principal of Reynolds Middle, believes in an early start time. He said other studies contradict the National Sleep Foundation’s and that kids tend to do their best in the mornings, then sag in the afternoons. [¶] ‘This discussion has been debated a number of years,’ he said. ‘Both sides can build great arguments on when the start of schools should be.’ ” (Reinhardt, Asheville’s Susan Reinhardt on sleep-deprived students in Buncombe County schools (Mar. 31, 2012) Citizen-Times.com.) The National Sleep Foundation (NSF) posts information at its website derived from studies conducted by other scientists. NSF “studies” are generally limited to sleep habits surveys. In any event, however intended, the assertion — “other studies contradict” NSF studies — is patently false. First, sleep surveys, whether undertaken by the NSF, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), or any other party, uniformly demonstrate the prevalence of weeknight sleep deprivation among adolescents. (2011 Sleep in America Poll: Communications Technology in the Bedroom (Mar. 2011) NSF, pp. 1-75; Eaton, McKnight-Eily, Lowry, Croft, Presley-Cantrell, & Perry, Prevalence of Insufficient, Borderline, and Optimal Hours of Sleep Among High School Students – United States, 2007 (2010) J. Adolescent Health, pp. 1-3; Roberts, Roberts, & Duong, Sleepless in adolescence: Prospective data on sleep deprivation, health and functioning (2009) 32 J. Adolescence, pp. 1045-1057;  Knutson & Lauderdale, Sociodemographic and behavioral predictors of bed time and wake time among U.S. adolescents aged 15–17 years, supra, 154 J. Pediatrics 3, pp. 426–430; CDC, Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance–United States, 2007 (Jun. 6, 2008) 57 Morbidity & Mortality Weekly Rep. SS04, pp. 1-131.) Second, precisely zero studies support beginning middle or high school classes during the 7 o’clock hour. (Cf. Vedaa, Saxvig, Wilhelmsen-Langeland, Bjorvatn, & Pallesen, School start time, sleepiness and functioning in Norwegian adolescents (Feb. 2012) Scandinavian J. Educational Research, pp. 55-67 [10th graders get 66 minutes more sleep and improve performance on attention/vigilance tasks with one hour start time delay to 9:30 a.m.]; Edwards, Early to Rise? The Effect of Daily Start Times on Academic Performance, supra, 31 Economics of Education Rev. 6, pp. 970-983 [7-year middle school study finding 1.5 – 3 percentile gains in standardized math and reading scores when start times delayed one hour from 7:30 a.m.]; Jacob & Rockoff, Organizing Schools to Improve Student Achievement: Start Times, Grade Configurations, and Teacher Assignments, supra, pp. 5-11, 21, n. 7; Carrell, et al., A’s from Zzzz’s? The Causal Effect of School Start Time on the Academic Performance of Adolescents, supra, 3 Am. Economic J.: Economic Policy 3, pp. 62-81 [four-year study determining start times after 8 a.m. have “causal effect” on improved academic performance]; Vorona, et al., Dissimilar Teen Crash Rates in Two Neighboring Southeastern Virginia Cities with Different High School Start Times, supra, 7 J. Clinical Sleep Med. 2, pp. 145-151 [associates early start times (7:25 a.m./7:20 a.m.) with significantly increased frequencies of automobile accidents among teen drivers and delayed start times (8:40 a.m./8:45 a.m.) with significantly decreased accident frequencies]; Lufi, et al., Delaying School Starting Time by One Hour: Some Effects on Attention Levels in Adolescents, supra, 7 J. Clinical Sleep Med. 2, pp. 137-143; Owens, et al., Impact of Delaying School Start Time on Adolescent Sleep, Mood, and Behavior, supra, 164 Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Med. 7, p. 613 [school delayed start times from 8 a.m. to 8:30 a.m., resulting in increased levels of alertness, fewer reports of depression, decreased tardy/truancy rates, etc.]; Cortes, Bricker, & Rohlfs, The Role of Specific Subjects in Education Production Functions: Evidence from Morning Classes in Chicago Public High Schools, supra, 12 B.E. Journal of Economic Analysis & Policy 1, Art. 27, pp. 1-34 [students beginning classes at 8 a.m. show marked deficiencies in first period courses and were more likely to be absent from first period courses relative to other periods]; Danner & Phillips, Adolescent Sleep, School Start Times, and Teen Motor Vehicle Crashes, supra, 4 J. Clinical Sleep Med. 6, pp. 533–535 [start time shift from 7:30 a.m. to 8:30 a.m. associated with significantly decreased frequencies of automobile accidents among teens]; Wolfson, et al., Middle School Start Times: The Importance of a Good Night’s Sleep for Young Adolescents, supra, 5 Behavioral Sleep Med. 3, pp. 204, 205.) “Ironically, the school starting time moves earlier as children’s grade advances. Although school starts earlier, children cannot adjust their bedtime accordingly, and this could result in sleep deprivation. Subsequently, they are sleepy in the morning and become more alert in the afternoon when school is almost over. [¶] Since children’s time of day preference shifts towards eveningness as they get older, their cognitive functioning is likely to be at its peak more towards the afternoon than in the morning. Thus, if important basic classes such as reading and mathematics are taught in the morning, older school children will be learning this critical material at their less-preferred or non optimal time of day, resulting in poorer school performance than might be found were the courses in greater synchrony with circadian arousal rhythms.” (Cardinali, Chronoeducation: How the Biological Clock Influences the Learning Process, publish. in, The Educated Brain: Essays in Neuroeducation (Battro, Fischer, & Léna, edit., Cambridge Univ. Press 2008) pp. 121, 122, citations omitted.) Third, while elementary school children may perform well in the mornings (Start School Later in the Morning, Say Sleepy Teens (May 21, 2007) Science Daily), adolescent alertness improves as the day wears on. (Hansen, Janssen, Schiff, Zee, & DubocovichThe Impact of Daily Schedule on Adolescent Sleep, supra, 115 Pediatrics 6, pp. 1555-1561.) Finally, as to the claim that both sides in the discussion over start times have available “great” arguments, science favors only one side of the debate. The other side is governed by adult convenience. (Riddile, Time Shift: Is your school jet-lagged?, supra, Nat. Assn. Secondary School Principals, The Principal Difference; Tanner, Study Shows Teens Benefit from Later School Day, supra, Associated Press.)

abraham-lincolnOHIO — In November of 2012, the Rootstown School District Start Time Committee recommended a one hour delay in the present 7:30 a.m. middle and high school start time in order to address sleep deprivation among adolescents. On February 11, 2013, the school board voted unanimously to end any discussion of later start times until: (a) the county or state issues recommendations for delayed school scheduling; or, (b) a simple majority of households support such the change. In offering apparent support for the board decision, Rootstown High Principal Michael Ferguson stated, “Part of what we were told was that if students didn’t have to get up until later they would be better rested and more alert throughout the day[.] Practically speaking we know that if students, and adults, are aware that they can sleep in longer, they usually stay up later, which negates any benefits of a later start time.” Aurora High School (7:40 a.m. start time) Principal Mike Roberto and Ravenna High School (7:15 a.m. start time) Principal Lorie Marozzi both said they would not support later times. (Nobile, Experts: Let Teens Sleep (Sept. 15, 2013) Record-Courier; Sever, Rootstown School Board Says ‘No’ To Change Of Class Start Times (Feb. 14, 2013) Record-Courier; Gallick, Committee Recommends Later School Start Times in Rootstown (Nov. 20, 2012) Record-Courier; Smith, Rootstown mom makes case for changing school start times (Jul. 22, 2012) recordpub.com.) While adherence to “ABC“ management principles may explain the principals’ responses, as previously noted, CDC scientists report, “Delaying school start times is a demonstrated strategy to promote sufficient sleep among adolescents.” (Eaton, McKnight-Eily, Lowry, Croft, Presley-Cantrell, & Perry, Prevalence of Insufficient, Borderline, and Optimal Hours of Sleep Among High School Students – United States, 2007, supra, 46 J. Adolescent Health, p. 401.) CAREI researchers found that four years into their longitudinal study, students in Minneapolis high schools (8:40 a.m. start time) continued to get five more hours sleep per week than their peers in schools starting earlier in the day (7:30 a.m.). (Wahlstrom, Changing Times: Findings From the First Longitudinal Study of Later High School Start Times, supra, 86 Nat. Assn. Secondary School Principals Bull. 633, pp. 4, 18.) In 2010, Owens, et al., reported that student sleep increased by 45 minutes nightly following a 30 minute start time delay (8 a.m. to 8:30 a.m.) at St. George’s School. (Owens, Belon, & Moss, Impact of Delaying School Start Time on Adolescent Sleep, Mood, and Behavior, supra, 164 Archives Pediatrics & Adolescent Med. 7, 608-614.)

North Olmsted City Schools Principals Jeff Stanton and Thomas Dreiling have proposed a plan to advance district middle and high school start times by 25 minutes to 7:23 a.m. and 7:20 a.m., respectively. Stanton proposed the idea as a means of increasing tutoring opportunities and providing teachers with additional professional development time. There are other factors behind the proposal as well, though Stanton insists intervention is the driving force. Stanton acknowledges there is “ample research about the negative effect of lost sleep on adolescents,” but points out that there are several high-performing schools in the area that start early. According to Stanton, “ ‘Studies are not talking about the proper time to start school they talk about the lack of sleep.’ ” (Noga, North Olmsted schools new start time plan raises concerns (Mar. 19, 2013) The Plain Dealer.) First, imagine how much better the local high-performing schools would do, and how much better students would feel, if school scheduling comported with adolescent circadian biology. (Carskadon, For better student health, start school later (Sept. 5, 2012) Brown Univ.; Owens, et al., Impact of Delaying School Start Time on Adolescent Sleep, Mood, and Behavior, supra, 164 Archives Pediatrics & Adolescent Med. 7, pp. 608-614; Jacob & Rockoff, Organizing Schools to Improve Student Achievement: Start Times, Grade Configurations, and Teacher Assignments, supra, Hamilton Project, Brookings Inst., pp. 5-11, 21; Venkateshiah, Teenagers and Sleep (Nov. 10, 2011) Am. College Chest Physicians, Chest Physician Art.) Second, Principal Stanton appears to concede that an earlier start time implicates lost sleep, but alleges some academic benefit flowing from an early morning schedule. All the evidence is to the contrary. In 2002, Wahlstrom advised that students sitting for college admissions examinations “are likely to be academically successful no matter what the local policy is about the starting time of the school day.” (Wahlstrom, Changing Times: Findings From the First Longitudinal Study of Later High School Start Times, supra, 86 Nat. Assn. Secondary School Principals Bull. 633, p. 12.) Hinrichs‘ study appears to support this conclusion. (Hinrichs, When the Bell Tolls: The Effects of School Starting Times on Academic Achievement (2011) 6 Education Finance & Policy 4, pp. 1-22.) There is recent evidence, however, definitively demonstrating significant positive academic benefits for high-performing adolescent students over the course of a semester as a direct result of later class scheduling. (Carrell, et al., A’s from Zzzz’s? The Causal Effect of School Start Time on the Academic Performance of Adolescents, supra, 3 Am. Economic J.: Economic Policy 3, pp. 62-81.) Third, there is good evidence that disadvantaged students benefit the most when start times are delayed. (Edwards, Early to Rise? The Effect of Daily Start Times on Academic Performance, supra, 31 Economics of Education Rev. 6, pp. 970, 971, 978, 983.) Fourth, in fact multiple studies discuss the “ ‘proper time to start school[.]’ “ (See, supra, Appendix C, Start Time Recommendations, etc.) Finally, everyone should be concerned that Stanton claims to recognize the “negative effect of lost sleep on adolescents” but nonetheless urges the change.

PENNSYLVANIA — In August 2014, following release of the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) Middle and High School Policy Statement, Easton Area School District Superintendent John Reinhart is reported to have stated, “I think all of us recognize adolescents should have more sleep[.] From a public school point of view, the easier fix might be to try to campaign with parents to get their adolescents to bed earlier at night.” Morning classes at Easton Area High School begin at 7:20 a.m. Middle school (grades 7-8) classes begin at 8:10 a.m. (Beyer, Pushing back middle and high school start times presents challenges (Aug. 31, 2014) The Express-Times.) “[B]iological changes in the timing of sleep propensity underlie the conflict with education start times; the brain will not allow students to go to sleep early but education times still require adolescents to wake (or be woken) too early in their circadian cycle, systematically restricting the time available for sleep and causing severe and chronic sleep loss.” (Kelley, Lockley, Foster, & Kelley, Synchronizing education to adolescent biology: ‘let teens sleep, start school later’ , supra, Learning, Media and Technology, p. 3.) “On a practical level, … the average teenager in today’s society has difficulty falling asleep before 11:00 PM and is best suited to wake at 8:00 AM or later.” (Adolescent Sleep Working Group, Committee on Adolescence, & Council on School Health, School Start Times for Adolescents (Aug. 25, 2014) Pediatrics, p. 643.) Adolescents require 9 to 10 hours of sleep. (How Much Sleep Do I Need? (Jul. 1, 2013) Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.)

In order to save transportation expenses, the North Penn School District has advanced the 2013-2014 high school start time by 5 minutes to 7:21 a.m. In promoting the new bell schedule, Superintendent Curtis Dietrich asserted “the changes are so slight that [any] negative impact is minimal…. [¶] I spent a lot of time at North Penn High School in the mornings and realized that a majority of the students are already there at the new start time. NPHS, its students and staff are recognized as the best in the nation. I do not foresee a minimal change in school hours by minutes impacting student achievement. Our students and staff are committed to excellence.” (Lundquist, Bell Schedule Changes for 2013-2014 School Year To Affect 13 Schools (Apr. 25, 2013) The Knight Crier.) Superintendent Dietrich’s assessment appears to blend elements of the biological uniqueness argument (see, e.g., South Carolina, infra) with the special capacity argument; i.e., the school community is uniquely qualified to address adverse class scheduling. Unfortunately, as discussed on this page and elsewhere (e.g., § III.A., supra), there is overwhelming evidence associating classes scheduled during the 7 o’clock hour with diminished academic performance, even among presumably capable and motivated first year, first semester Air Force cadets, still biological adolescents. (Carrell, et al., A’s from Zzzz’s? The Causal Effect of School Start Time on the Academic Performance of Adolescents, supra, 3 Am. Economic J.: Economic Policy 3, pp. 62-81.) In addition, as noted in the main text, driving performance will likely be impaired (see, § III.D., supra) and an array of negative health consequences implicated by virtue of the restricted sleep invariably associated with early school hours in this population. (See, e.g., § III; see also, Hennick, High school may change its start time (Jul. 26, 2012) boston.com [Professor Carskadon notes start times may affect “life and limb.”]; see also, APSS: Later School Start Times May Cut Teen Car Crashes (Jun. 11, 2010) Medpage Today.)

In discussing Superintendent Linda Lane’s proposal to advance start times by 30 minutes to 7:36 a.m., Pittsburgh Public Schools school “[b]oard member Jean Fink said she raised six children who attended Pittsburgh Carrick High School, which had a starting time around 7:30 a.m. She said a ‘really effective’ strategy for wakening  ‘nocturnal teenagers is cold water.’ ” (Debate continues over starting time for city public high-schoolers (May 23, 2012) Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.) Forced awakening does not reset the adolescent circadian rhythm. (Wahlstrom, Accommodating the Sleep Patterns of Adolescents Within Current Educational Structures: An Uncharted Path, publish. in, Adolescent Sleep Patterns, Biological, Social, and Psychological Influences (Carskadon, edit., Cambridge Univ. Press 2002) p. 174; see also, Troxel, The high cost of sleepy teens, supra, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.)

RHODE ISLAND — Following a survey of parents, teachers, and students concerning whether Barrington High School should delay its current 7:40 a.m. start time, School Committee member Chris Ramsden stated, “I am still looking for more data on the academic impact” of changing the start time to later in the morning for teens. “I don’t think it’s there.” (Rupp, School Start Time Survey Results (May 8, 2012) Barrington Patch.) Look a little harder, Mr. Ramsdem. (Edwards, Early to Rise? The Effect of Daily Start Times on Academic Performance, supra, 31 Economics of Education Rev. 6, pp. 970-983; Vedaa, et al., School start time, sleepiness and functioning in Norwegian adolescents, supra, Scandinavian J. Educational Research, pp. 55-67; Jacob & Rockoff, Organizing Schools to Improve Student Achievement: Start Times, Grade Configurations, and Teacher Assignments, supra, Hamilton Project, Brookings Inst., pp. 5-11, 21; Carrell, et al., A’s from Zzzz’s? The Causal Effect of School Start Time on the Academic Performance of Adolescents, supra, 3 Am. Economic J.: Economic Policy 3, pp. 62-81; Lufi, et al., Delaying School Starting Time by One Hour: Some Effects on Attention Levels in Adolescents, supra, 7 J. Clinical Sleep Med. 2, pp. 137-143; Lamberg, High Schools Find Later Start Time Helps Students’ Health and Performance, supra, 301 J. Am. Med. Assn. 21, p. 2200; Bronson, Snooze or Lose (Oct. 7, 2007) N.Y Mag., web p. 2; Wolfson, et al., Middle School Start Times: The Importance of a Good Night’s Sleep for Young Adolescents, supra, 5 Behavioral Sleep Med. 3, pp. 194-209; Hansen, et al., The Impact of Daily Schedule on Adolescent Sleep, supra, Jun. 2005) 115 Pediatrics 6, pp. 1555-1561; Wolfson & Carskadon, Understanding adolescents’ sleep patterns and school performance: A critical appraisal (2003) 7 Sleep Med. Rev. 6, pp. 491-506.)

SOUTH CAROLINA — “Edmond Burnes, principal of Battery Creek High School, said he’s not convinced delaying start times would have much effect on students at his school. He said much of the research he is familiar with involves schools in the north or Midwest whose demographics are different than those of Battery Creek. ‘I’m kind of skeptical of the research because I think apples and oranges are being compared,’ he said. ‘It’s not the same type of schools.’ Burnes said he wants to see the breakdown of students’ socioeconomic status and ethnicity before considering a change. ‘I don’t think our start time has anything to do with our student achievement.’ ” (Cerve, Early high school start times affect teens’ ability to learn, studies find (Aug. 2010) islandpacket.com, italics added.) As discussed, supra, a causal relationship academic achievement and later start times appears to be at least reasonably well-established. (Carrell, et al., A’s from Zzzz’s? The Causal Effect of School Start Time on the Academic Performance of Adolescents, supra, 3 Am. Economic J.: Economic Policy 3, pp. 62-81.) Notably, with respect to the University of Minnesota studies in Edina and Minneapolis, CAREI Director Kyla Wahlstrom observed, Edina is a “very stable, wealthy suburb, while Minneapolis is highly urban, with 67% students of color and 83% of students qualifying for free/reduced lunch. Although the districts were vastly different, the outcomes and effects were essentially the same.” (Wahlstrom, School Start Times and Sleepy Teens (Jul. 2010) 164 Archives Pediatric & Adolescent Med. 7, p. 676.) In addition, “a delay in the timing of sleep during the second decade of life has been observed in over 16 countries on 6 continents, in cultures ranging from pre-industrial to modern[.]” (Hagenauer, Perryman, Lee, & Carskadon, Adolescent Changes in the Homeostatic and Circadian Regulation of Sleep, supra, 31 Developmental Neuroscience 4, p. 276, citing, Carskadon, Maturation of processes regulating sleep in adolescents, publish. in, Sleep in Children: Developmental Changes in Sleep Patterns (Marcus, Carroll, & Donnelly, edits., Informa Healthcare, 2nd ed. 2008) p. 96; see also, Rhie, Lee, & Chae, Sleep patterns and school performance of Korean adolescents assessed using a Korean version of the pediatric daytime sleepiness scale (2011) 54 Korean J. Pediatrics 1, pp. 29-35; Hoecker, Adolescent Sleep Deprivation (Mar. 17, 2008) 45 Indian Pediatrics, pp. 181-182; Gupta, Bhatia, Chhabra, Sharma, Dahiya, Semalti, Sapra, & Dua, Sleep Patterns of Urban School-going Adolescents (Mar. 17, 2008) 45 Indian Pediatrics, pp. 183-189; Ghanizadeh, Kianpoor, Rezaei, Rezaei, Moini, Aghakhani, Ahmadi, & Moeini, Sleep patterns and habits in high school students in Iran (Mar. 2008) 7 Annals General Psychiatry 5; Chung & Cheung, Sleep-Wake Patterns and Sleep Disturbance among Hong Kong Chinese Adolescents (2008) 31 Sleep 2; Yang, Kim, Patel, & Lee, Age-Related Changes in Sleep/Wake Patterns Among Korean Teenagers (Jan. 2005) 115 Pediatrics 1, pp. 250-256; Reid, Maldonado, & Baker, Sleep Behavior of South African Adolescents (Jun. 15, 2002) 25 Sleep 4, pp. 423-427.)
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TEXAS — A May 31, 2013 memorandum posted at the Spring Independent School District website advises that for 2013-2014, the district will advance the high school start time from 8 a.m. to 7:15 a.m. The Early College Academy will advance morning classes by 15 minutes to 7:45 a.m. The memorandum states the schedule changes were made “[t]o foster the most productive learning environment for student achievement[.]” This statement is obviously untrue. As discussed on this page and elsewhere (see, e.g., supra, §§ III.A., III.C., III.D.), starting high school students during the 7 o’clock hour is ideal if the goal is to increase the likelihood of harm and undermine health and achievement.

UTAH — In the fall of 2013, after two years of starting at 7:55 a.m. Herriman High School in the Jordan School District will return to a 7:30 a.m. start time. The school “didn’t see the results it wanted — struggling students coming early to meet with teachers. [¶] While some parents and students loved the later start because of the chance for more Z’s,” Principal Jim Birch says a survey last year revealed students were not getting any more sleep than before. “A lot of them said, ‘We go to bed later because we can get up later.’ “ (Moulton, Z’s to A’s: Do Utah students suffer from lack of sleep? (Aug. 11, 2013) Salt Lake Tribune.) First, the plan was fundamentally flawed insofar as it still required adolescent students to begin morning classes while melatonin pressured them to sleep. Holy Cross Professor of Psychology Amy Wolfson pointed out in 1999 that while a modest delay in start times may reap benefits, “if it was within the 7 o’clock hour, it would still be too early to make much difference.” (Martin, Late to Bed, Early to Rise Makes a Teen-Ager … Tired (Aug. 1, 1999) N.Y. Times.) The adolescent sleep cycle is “rather fixed” and runs from approximately 11 p.m. to 8 a.m. (Later Start Times for High School Students, supra, Univ. Minn.), or later; i.e., midnight or 1 a.m. to 9 a.m. or 10 a.m. (Terman & McMahan, Chronotherapy: Resetting Your Inner Clock to Boost Mood, Alertness, and Quality Sleep (Penguin Group 2012) p. 199.) Scheduling school while the virtually immutable adolescent circadian rhythm dictates sleep (Carskadon, When Worlds Collide: Adolescent Need for Sleep Versus Societal Demands, supra, 80 Phi Delta Kappan 5, pp. 348-349), means students “must be awake and learning at a time of day when their bodies should be sleeping.” (Moore & Meltzer, The sleepy adolescent: causes and consequences of sleepiness in teens (2008) 9 Paediatric Respiratory Rev., p. 116.) The 7:55 a.m. start time was 35 minutes before the earliest start time proposed by any sleep expert and more than an hour before the 9 a.m. start time counseled by Brookings Institute economists. (See, supra, Appendix C, Start Time Recommendations, etc.) Second, while the Salt Lake Tribune offers de minimis information concerning Herriman‘s sleep survey (students were not getting more sleep, “[a] lot” stayed up later) and no information concerning its scientific validity, we can surmise that many students did obtain additional sleep as their parents “loved” the schedule for that reason and because historical data show that, overall, most students utilize such delays for sleep. (See, § IV.D.supra.) “Inherently, the majority of kids with a later start will get more sleep, which is beneficial to grades as well as being safer.” (Sklarew, Getting A’s with More Z’s: The fight for later school starts has backing from doctors and statistics (Nov. 2011) N. Va. Magazine.) While sometimes difficult to ascertain measurable benefits from short start time delays (see, Perkinson-Gloor, Lemola, & Grob, in press, Sleep duration, positive attitude toward life, and academic achievement: The role of daytime tiredness, behavioral persistence, and school start times, supra, J. Adolescence, p. 7), as discussed herein and elsewhere, even without regard to sleep, (a) economists report that later starting students outperform their earlier starting peers academically (see, supra, § III.A.); and, (b) scientific analysis of crash and traffic congestion data show later starting students have significantly fewer car accidents than their earlier starting peers. (See, supra, § III.D.)

VIRGINIA — On September 9, 2014, the Williamsburg-James City County Public Schools school board discussed the possibility of delaying the district’s 7:20 a.m. high school start time. Superintendent Steve Constantino said administrators were examining the issue, but wanted input from board members as to the direction they should take. Board member Oscar Prater responded that teenagers could act on their own to address the situation, without assistance from the board. “If they went to bed earlier, they’d get more sleep,” he said. (Brickey, WJCC School Board Debates Later Start Time for High Schools (Sept. 12, 2014) Williamsburg Yorktown Daily.) Mr. Prater’s advisement suggests an unawareness of phase delay in adolescents, discussed infra, Easton Area School District, Pennsylvania.

Following release of the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) School Start Time Policy Statement (Adolescent Sleep Working Group, Committee on Adolescence, & Council on School Health, School Start Times for Adolescents, supra, Pediatrics, pp. 642-649), Ted Velkoff, vice chairman of the Fairfax County Public Schools School Board, wrote an op-ed piece for USA Today referring to the AAP Recommendations as “well-intentioned[,]” but requiring districts to spend more on buses than the classroom. Velkoff then cited a 2013 study by University of Cincinnati Professor of Sociology David Maume for the proposition that with respect to adolescent sleep deficiency, “we should be looking outside our schools for the[] root causes and solutions.” The vice chairman’s first contention may be quickly dispatched by the 2011 Brookings Institute report. (Jacob & Rockoff, Organizing Schools to Improve Student Achievement: Start Times, Grade Configurations, and Teacher Assignments, supra, Hamilton Project, Brookings Inst., pp. 5-11.) As to Velkoff’s tortured interpretation of the professor’s recent study, Maume himself responded on Twitter: “Op-ed in USA today misread my teen-sleep study to oppose starting Hs later.  For the record I favor starting hs later[.]” (Twitter (Aug. 28, 2014) @DaveMaume.)

WASHINGTON — The Longview School District has advanced start times by 10 minutes in order to accommodate 3 teacher training days. District middle school start times now range from 7:30 a.m. to 7:50 a.m., and high schools now begin at 7:40 a.m. Superintendent Suzanne Cusick, Ph.D., says she’s aware of research that suggests students learn better later in the day, but said she “doesn’t believe the new start times are too early.” (Garrison, Earlier start times set to kick in for Longview schools (Aug. 13, 2011) The Daily News.) Again, the earliest start time recommended by any sleep expert is 8:30 a.m.; economists propose starting middle and high schools at “roughly” 9 a.m. (citations here).

WISCONSIN — In 2012, Wauwatosa School District Superintendent Phillip Ertl, Ed.D., proposed advancing high school start times from 8 a.m. to 7:40 a.m. to decrease traffic congestion now attributed to having three schools begin within 5 minutes of each other. The proposed plan, later abandoned following a survey of parents, would also have advanced middle school start times, from 8:05 a.m. to 7:50 a.m. Dr. Ertl explained that “high school students in the district are being rigorously prepared for challenging careers that could demand an early start to their day – and they might just as well get used to it. [H]igh school students need to be prepared for life after high school when their work days will be starting early. I do believe that starting 20 minutes earlier will not negatively impact their learning or their attendance.” (Price, School District Proposes Earlier Start Times to Address Traffic Safety Concerns (Apr. 5, 2012) Wauwatosa Patch; Romano, Proposal maintains high school start time (Apr. 24, 2012) Wauwatosa Now.) Start Later for Excellence in Education Proposal (SLEEP) co-founder Phyllis Payne, M.P.H., commented in response: “Stating that ‘high school students need to be prepared for life after high school when their work days will be starting early’ is akin to saying that a preschool student must stop napping because they will be in full-day kindergarten next year. The teen brain and sleep patterns are different because their brains and bodies are still growing and developing. Having an early high school start times does nothing to help them ‘prepare’ for an early workday later in life. This isn’t a skill or something to be ‘practiced’ and ‘learned.’ Circadian rhythms are biologically different during puberty than they will be later in life with or without ‘practice.’ ”
Dr. Ertl appears to suffer many of the same misapprehensions noted for Andrea Gonzalez-Kirwin, supra, and Bruce Bailey, infra, apparently unaware that advancing the school day may increase existing risks to student well-being. Moreover, the assertion that a 20 minute advance will not undermine academic performance cannot be reconciled with the available evidence. (Carrell, et al., A’s from Zzzz’s? The Causal Effect of School Start Time on the Academic Performance of Adolescents, supra, 3 Am. Economic J.: Economic Policy 3, pp. 62-81; Lufi, et al., Delaying School Starting Time by One Hour: Some Effects on Attention Levels in Adolescents, supra, 7 J. Clinical Sleep Med. 2, pp. 137-143; Edwards, Early to Rise? The Effect of Daily Start Times on Academic Performance, supra, 31 Economics of Education Rev. 6, pp. 970-983; see also, Vedaa, et al., School start time, sleepiness and functioning in Norwegian adolescents, supra, Scandinavian J. Educational Resarch, pp. 55-67.) In addition, as discussed in note 578, early starting schools tend to have higher truancy/tardy rates than later starting schools. Further, given that reports of depression have declined in schools beginning at 8:25 a.m., or later (Boergers, Gable, & Owens, Later School Start Time Is Associated with Improved Sleep and Daytime Functioning in Adolescents (Jan. 2014) 35 J. Developmental & Behavioral Pediatrics 1, pp. 11-17; Owens, et al., Impact of Delaying School Start Time on Adolescent Sleep, Mood, and Behavior, supra, 164 Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Med. 7, p. 613; Wahlstrom, Changing Times: Findings From the First Longitudinal Study of Later High School Start Times, supra, 86 Nat. Assn. Secondary School Principals Bull. 633, pp. 3, 13), scientists surmise that advancing the school day may have the opposite effect. (Sleep Experts Concerned About St. Paul Start Time Change, supra, CBS; see also, Insufficient sleep among high school students associated with a variety of health-risk behaviors (Sept. 26, 2011) CDC Online Newsroom.) Again, suicide is the third leading cause of death among U.S. adolescents, in recent years accounting for 10% or more of all teen fatalities. (Owens, et al., Impact of Delaying School Start Time on Adolescent Sleep, Mood, and Behavior, supra, 164 Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Med. 7, p. 613; Miniño, Xu, & Kochanek, Deaths: Preliminary Data for 2008, supra, 59 Nat. Vital Statistics Rep. 2 [2.7% adult suicide rate]; CDC Nat. Vital Statistics System, supraMortality Tables.) Finally, students will be getting less sleep and driving while melatonin pressures them to sleep, increasing the likelihood of student-involved traffic accidents (Vorona, et al., Dissimilar Teen Crash Rates in Two Neighboring Southeastern Virginia Cities with Different High School Start Times, supra, 7 J. Clinical Sleep Med. 2, pp. 145-151; Danner & Phillips, Adolescent Sleep, School Start Times, and Teen Motor Vehicle Crashes, supra, 4 J. Clinical Sleep Med. 6, pp. 533–535), the leading cause of death in this population. (CDC, supraInjury Prevention & Control: Motor Vehicle Safety, Teen Drivers: Fact Sheet.)

In defending Greenfield High School’s 7:10 a.m. start time, School Board President Bruce Bailey asserted, “Students need to ‘join the real world,’… and get used to rising early to be successful, …” (Stingl, Greenfield mom pushes later school start for groggy teens (Mar. 6, 2012) J. Sentinel.) The sentiments of Mr. Bailey and Dr. Ertl, supra, appear to be aligned. The gentlemen may wish to consider this observation from Professor Dement: ”Sending kids to school at 7 a.m. is the equivalent of sending an adult to work at 4 in the morning[.] It’s almost abusive to them.” (Diconsiglio, let me sleep! (Feb. 11, 2002) 134 N.Y. Times Upfront 9, p. 17.) As observed in the recent Brookings Institute report, although many adults in the “real world” start work early, many start considerably later than the average high school student. Recent census data reflect that 10.5% of Americans begin their morning commute between 8:00 a.m. and 8:29 a.m., with more than 27% leaving even later than that. (Commuting in the United States: 2009, American Community Survey Rep. (Sept. 2011) Commerce Dept., Census Bureau, p. 2.) In the fall of 2010, fewer than 2 percent of undergraduate courses at the University of Michigan started at 8:00 a.m. or earlier, and roughly 85 percent of classes started at 9:30 a.m. or later. (Jacob & Rockoff, Organizing Schools to Improve Student Achievement: Start Times, Grade Configurations, and Teacher Assignments, supra, Hamilton Project, Brookings Inst., p. 7.) Duke University no longer schedules any classes before 8:30 a.m. (Grace, Help for Sleep-Deprived Students (Apr. 19, 2004) CBS News.) “Real world” data suggest the great majority of early rising students experience daily sleep deprivation (Ming, Koransky, Kang, Buchman, Sarris, & WagnerSleep Insufficiency, Sleep Health Problems and Performance in High School Students, supra, 2011 Clinical Med. Insights: Circulatory, Respiratory & Pulmonary Med. 5, pp. 71-79; Millman, edit., Excessive Sleepiness in Adolescents and Young Adults: Causes, Consequences, and Treatment Strategies, supra, 115 Pediatrics 6, p. 1776; see also, Epstein, Chillag, & Lavie, Starting times of school: effects on daytime functioning of fifth-grade children in Israel, supra, 21 Sleep 3, 250-256, placing them at risk for the panoply of “severe” consequences associated with restricted sleep in this population. (Lund, Reider, Whiting, & Prichard, Sleep Patterns and Predictors of Disturbed Sleep in a Large Population of College Students (Feb. 2010) 46 J. Adolescent Health 2, p. 125.) If/when the time comes for youth to rise early, they will be ready for it. Children and adolescents sleep increasingly later until the age of approximately 20, when there is an “abrupt shift in sleep schedules” and “mid-point times” become increasingly earlier again. (Wolfson, Adolescents and Emerging Adults’ Sleep Patterns: New Developments (Feb. 2010) 46 J. Adolescent Health 2, p. 97.) As previously observed, the hour when the school day begins is the factor with the “greatest impact” on adolescent sleep sufficiency (Knutson & Lauderdale, Sociodemographic and behavioral predictors of bed time and wake time among U.S. adolescents aged 15–17 years, supra, 154 J. Pediatrics 3, p. 430),  a point seldom considered by those preparing students for the “real world.”

In a follow-up comment to his own article concerning the Menomonee Falls School District plan to advance the high school start time from 8 a.m. to 7:14 a.m., journalist Carl Engelking notes district superintendent Patricia Greco, Ph.D., “did address the issue of sleep and changing the hours during the meeting. She said that if they started school at 9 a.m. or 10 a.m., kids would likely just stay up until 1 a.m. or later rather than using a later start time as a way to get more sleep.” (Comments section, Engelking, Rise and Shine! School Could Start Earlier Next Year at MFHS (Nov. 28, 2011) Menomonee Falls Patch.) Again, the pertinent studies do not support Dr. Greco’s contention. “Students in schools which have delayed their start times have not delayed their bedtime significantly but have been provided with the opportunity to obtain more sleep by sleeping later in the morning. This then provides a pathway whereby these students are better rested at school, have better attendance, and report better mood. Such policy changes may have a major impact on the health and education of adolescents.” (Crabtree & Witcher, Impact of Sleep Loss on Children and Adolescents, publish. in, Sleep and Psychiatric Disorders in Children and Adolescents (Informa Healthcare 2008, Ivanenko edit.) p. 144.)

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