In October of 2019, a law was passed in California enforcing the rule that high schools aren’t allowed to start before 8:30 AM and middle schools before 8:00 AM. This new law is to be put into effect in schools by July 1, 2022. By making this happen, the number of students who are tardy is expected to be reduced and attendance rates are predicted to improve.
According to The Gazette, “Three Pikes Peak region school districts are delving into a hot-button education quandary- starting school later for older students.”
Should highschools in Colorado start high school later in the morning and would it benefit students?
In a 3 year study done by the University of Minnesota, multiple benefits were found from students starting school past 8:30. In this study 9,000 plus students from eight schools in 3 states were studied. The benefits found from starting school later in the morning included, a boost in attendance, a rise in the scores of standardized test scores and overall academic achievement in core classes.
Students were also shown to have improved health as, “high schools starting as late as 8:55 have 66% of students obtaining 8 or more hours of sleep on school nights,” as said from the University of Minnesota on the study.
There was also another unexpected result of the study- “the study found that there was a 70% drop in the number of car crashes involving teen drivers at Jackson Hole High School in Wyoming.”
In order to get the opinion of a staff member, the dean of students at Odyssey ECCO, Dr. Lamphere was asked about his opinion on school starting at a later time, and his response brought a different outlook on the situation.
“I think right now the first thing to realize is we start school when we do, because we have to put time for activities after school, like sports and things. One of the reasons Odyssey starts and ends specifically when it does, [is] so kids can leave and access sports at other schools or if you’re in band, marching band, or whatever you need to access, we do that for those abilities,” he stated.
Bringing the situation of activities after school and other habits, like homework and taking care of yourself, if school were to start at a later time in the morning, it would have to end at a later time in the afternoon as well. The main argument as to why school should start later is because teenagers need more sleep, but would teenagers really be getting more sleep if school would have the same amount of hours in a day, with starting later and ending later? Ending later would take away from the limited time a highschooler has to do things after school, like sleeping, eating, daily routines, and homework. If anything, high schoolers would just be staying up later and taking the same time to do all of their daily routines once school ends for the day, since an hour is added to their morning, but that same hour is taken away from their afternoon. Could there be a solution to this?
When asked about his thoughts on this, Sophomore from Odyssey, Javen Hansen voiced his opinion, “I think that we should start school later because students learn better if they’re not tired. But extending the school day is not a good idea because then students won’t have energy by their last class, so instead we could extend the school year into the summer.”
Some schools in Colorado Springs are known to be year-round schools, like those in district 49. In exchange they have longer breaks during the school year, for example a two week long Thanksgiving break. If district 11 were to become a year round school, what if instead of having longer breaks, the extra days taken off of the summer were to go to being able to start later in the morning and ending at the same time school ends now? This would give the hours needed in a school year and leave the same amount of time for after school activities and such.
At Odyssey ECCO, an anonymous survey was taken with 22 students, and of those 22 students, 18 agreed that school should start later in the morning and end later in the afternoon. Adding onto that, 17 of the 22 students agreed that starting school later would be beneficial towards their learning experience, but only 6 thought that days should be taken away from summer in order to create a shorter school day.
Starting later in the morning could be beneficial for students, allowing more time for sleep and a better learning experience, with students able to get more hours of sleep and being able to focus in class better.