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Sophie Sheridan
Mrs. Cramer
Comp I. Pd. 6
17 March 2017
Creating a Better Learning Environment for Students
How would you feel if you were doing school work with under seven hours of sleep? We

all know the answer to that question. Waking up early and attempting to do your work a million

times a year can be tiring.1 According to most towns, there seems to be an issue with the school

start time in many schools. More specifically, middle schools and high schools. It has been

debatable whether the time should be changed or not because of different reasons. However,

most studies have shown that a later start time would have numerous advantages. A later change

in the school starting time can improve students academic performance, sleep patterns, and


A half an hour to forty-five minutes, or even an hour does not seem like much of a difference, but

it is. A lot can happen in five minutes let alone an hour. Student minds are as fragile as glass and

if you force them to engage in learning activities when they are mentally unfocused and fatigued,

they will break.2 Many schools have responded to this upbringing. Writer Finley Edwards wrote

an article including this topic in Wake County, North Carolina. In his article he stated, I find

that delaying school start times by one hour, from roughly 7:30 to 8:30, increases standardized

test scores by at least 2 percentile points in math and 1 percentile point in reading. This affects

all students, but mainly the students with below average test scores. Edwards also noted

Controlling for the start time of their high school, I find that students whose middle school

1 Hyperbole- Over exaggerates how much youve done your work

2 Analogy- Compares a students mind to glass

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started one hour later when they were in 8th grade continue to score 2 percentile points higher in

both math and reading when tested in grade 10.(Edwards). The results showed that a later start

time effects both math and reading. It is more than twice as large for students in the bottom-third

of the test-score than the top third. It still may not make much sense to some people as to why

this worked, but there is an explanation. By starting school later, students lose too much sleep.

As kids age into teenagers and teenagers age into adults, hormonal changes occur that make it

difficult to compensate for the time they have to wake up in the morning. School start times

should be later for older students because of their hormones. Edwards revealed that, In both

math and reading, the start-time effect is roughly the same for students age 11 and 12, but

increases for those age 13 and is largest for students age 14. This pattern is consistent with the

adolescent hormone theory. (Edwards). One example of hormonal change is the secretion of

melatonin. That can shift the circadian rhythm (the bodys master clock) and make it extremely

difficult to fall asleep early in the night. Pre-adolescent students are not affected by early start

times since they are not yet dealing with these hormones. According to statistics, adolescents can

lose as much as 120 minutes of sleep per night during a school week. Since they are losing sleep

during the school week, they sleep about 30 minutes longer than on a summer weekend to make

up for the sleep lost. Nonetheless, some students cant make up for the lost sleep if they have

sports, a job, and family, as well as social schedules. Later start times are more effective than

other methods.

The idea of a later start time worries parents and teachers, because they think it will cost more

money. Another option could be eliminating tiered busing schedules. A tiered busing schedule is

when the buses pick and drop kids off at different times depending on which schools they are in

(elementary, middle, and high schools). That would mean that all schools would begin at the
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same time. Eliminating a tiered busing schedule would actually save money instead of spending

more, so the parents and teachers wouldnt have to worry about financial issues. Edwards stated,

The WCPSS Transportation Department estimates that over the 10-year period from 1993 to

2003, using a three tiered bus system saved roughly $100 million in transportation costs. With

approximately 100,000 students per year divided into three tiers, it would cost roughly $150 per

student each year to move each student in the two earliest start time tiers to the latest start

time.(Edwards). Schools would be saving an exorbitant amount of money by adjusting this and

it would be in their best interest to at least try it.

Car crashes are already a hazard, but when you are running low on sleep, it is even more

hazardous. Teen drivers with an earlier start time are involved in vehicle accidents more than

others with a later start time. The Science Teacher found statistics that said, Results show that

the weekday crash rate for teen drivers during the 2009 to 2010 school year was about 29%

higher in Chesterfield County, Va., where high school classes began at 7:20 a.m., than in adjacent

Henrico County, Va., where classes started at 8:45 a.m. Similar results were found for the 2010 to

2011 school year, when the weekday crash rate for 16-17-year-old teens in Chesterfield county

was about 27% higher than those in Henrico county. In contrast, there was no difference in adult

crash rates in the two counties for either year. If adult crash rates didnt change yet the teen

crash rate increased so that proves that teenagers should be obtaining more sleep. Changing

school start times may have led to different outcomes in communities, but they are almost always

positive. By extending the start-time, the students acquire more sleep which promotes their

overall well-being. Benefits include: Increase in attendance rates, increase in GPA, increase in

state assessment scores, increase in student attention, increase in college admissions test scores,

increase in quality of student-family interaction, decrease in disciplinary action, decrease in

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student-involved car accidents, and a decrease in student-sleeping during instruction. Those

benefits are all from studies in schools and districts in Colorado, Connecticut, Kentucky,

Minnesota, Missouri, Rhode Island, Virginia, and Wyoming. So if this many states are agreeing,

then it must be working.

Life is not always easy. Obstacles will present themselves; however, they can be

overcome. Numerous parents feel that since it is not a simple schedule to change because it is a

major hassle with numerous difficulties. Just because a feat isnt easy doesnt mean it cant be

done. If it is improving students abilities, it will definitely be worthwhile. Giving up shouldnt

be an option, especially when it is a childs learning and safety at stake.

In conclusion, changing the school start time for middle schools and high schools can

improve students academic performance, sleep pattern, and mood. Most article studies are

showing the same results. They are extremely positive; however not all towns and cities have

tried changing the school starting time. Students have begun scoring about 2 percentile higher in

math and reading in the schools that have initiated later start time for schools. Not changing to a

later start time causes students to lose around 120 minutes of sleep during the school week. A

later start time also decreases the amount of sleep-related car crashes per year and is promoting

students wellbeing. Their all-around school attitude is more positive after having more sleep. For

example, they have more focus, determination, and a better GPA It might be difficult to change,

but it is worth it.3

3 Antanagoge- Counteracts with an opposing proposition

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Burke, Michael G. Later school start time improves teens sleep and mood. Contemporary
Pediatrics, Sept. 2010, p. 37. Student Resources in Context,
link.galegroup.com/apps/doc/A456679281/SUIC?u=pl1949&xid=edaa6d9e. Accessed 13 Mar.
Edwards, Finley. "Do Schools Begin Too Early?" Education Next, 7 Sept. 2012. Web. 13 Mar.
George, Donna St. "Debate over School Start times Flares Anew." The Washington Post. WP
Company, 01 Jan. 2017. Web. 16 Mar. 2017.
Hansen, Martha, et al. The impact of school daily schedule on adolescent sleep. Pediatrics,
June 2005, p. 1555+. Student Resources in Context,
link.galegroup.com/apps/doc/A133080599/SUIC?u=pl1949&xid=e778086a. Accessed 13 Mar.
"Later School Start Times Promote Adolescent Well-Being." American Psychological
Association, n.d. Web. 13 Mar. 2017.
Sleepy teens crash their cars more often. The Science Teacher, Jan. 2015, p. 16. Student
Resources in Context, link.galegroup.com/apps/doc/A396767724/SUIC?
U=pl1949&xid=69046be5. Accessed 13 Mar. 2017.