High school students have it pretty rough. Many have to be seated in class at 7:30 a.m., which means they have to wake up around 6 a.m. or earlier. after staying up late to tackle homework and sometimes extracurricular activities. This leads to many students around the country being sleep deprived.
U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan is leaving it up to individual school districts to decide whether to push back start times, but he is definitely recommending they do so. Duncan pointed out that students do better if they start their school day well rested, and that common sense tells him teenagers are struggling to wake up early and make it to the buses.
Some schools have adopted later start times or have classes on a block schedule. Others, like Carlmont High School in Belmont, California have one day a week, Wednesdays, where school starts later than usual.
There seems to be a lot of support over the Secretary's recommendation, not just from parents and teens, but also sleep experts.
Dr. Ann Halbower, director of the Children's Hospital Colorado Sleep Center in Denver, says studies on kids with sleep deprivation show their grades drop, they have excessive moodiness, more depression and excessive daytime sleepiness. Not exactly the best conditions for absorbing information in class.
There is also research suggesting that more sleep results in better school performance. A study conducted in 2012 found that by changing a start time from 7:30 a.m. to 8:30 a.m., the standardized test scores in reading and math for middle school kids increased by two to three percentage points.
On the flip side, some students prefer the early start time so they can get out of school at the same time as their friends.