Thursday, April 13, 2017

Let Them Sleep? Later School Start Times Improve Graduation and Attendance

Let Them Sleep? Later School Start Times Improve Graduation and Attendance:

Let Them Sleep? Later School Start Times Improve Graduation and Attendance Rates

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In the current climate of polarized debate about best school practices and policies, it is refreshing to learn that there are some ideas that are supported by research and an emerging bipartisan consensus.
An increasing body of evidence is showing how later school start times are making a difference in students’ lives, including improved educational outcomes and mental well-being. Physicians have been advocating for later start times for more than two decades, and the body of literature linking adolescent sleep with increased student success has only grown in depth and rigor.
new study by Pamela McKeever of Central Connecticut State University and her colleague Linda Clark found that delaying high school start times to 8:30 a.m. and later significantly improved graduation and attendance rates.
School districts “set students up for failure by endorsing traditional school schedules,” McKeever writes, and this practice continues even in the face of mounting evidence supporting the benefits of a later start time. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that in 42 states, 75%-100% of public schools start before 8:30 a.m. According to the CDC, school should begin no earlier than 8:30.
Early starting times are out of synch with adolescent sleep cycles – and, no, it’s not because they’re out late every night or glued to social media and video games. The adolescent body doesn’t begin to produce melatonin, a hormone linked to sleep cycles, until around 11:00pm, leaving adolescents with a limited window in which to obtain sufficient sleep.
Educators are in a pivotal position to become change agents and advocates for high school students by teaching all stakeholders about adolescent sleep. These changes accomplish what all educators and educational leaders aspire to: student success” – Pamela McKeever, Central Connecticut State University 
Insufficient sleep in teens has been linked to an increase in car accidents, substance abuse, suicide attempts, depression, even criminal activity. A 2014 study of eight public high schools by Kyla Wahlstrom of the University of Minnesota, for example, found that the number of car crashes for teen drivers was significantly reduced by a simple shift in school start time from 7:35 a.m. to 8:55 a.m.
In their study, McKeever and Clark looked at 29 high schools across seven states, comparing attendance and graduation rates before and after the schools implemented a delayed starting time. The average graduation rate jumped from 79% to 88%, and the average attendance rate went from 90% to 94%.
“As graduation rates improve, young adults experience less hardship after graduation, a lower chance of incarceration and a higher chance of career success,” McKeever told Reuters. Given the evidence, later start times could possibly serve as a Let Them Sleep? Later School Start Times Improve Graduation and Attendance:
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