Starting School Later : Better or WorseResearch shows that starting school later is better for high school students in many ways.
By: Ben Golden, Sibley Scribe
A handful of students who have been in the school district over the years may be able to remember the monumental year when the district decided to begin school at 8:25 instead of 7:30. For the majority of students, this was cause for celebration, however there are still many who are against the change. District 197 is a part of a new wave of other districts making the switch to a later starting time; this group is growing larger every year. However, many Minnesota districts maintain their early start times despite research that it could be better to start school later. Along with the benefits of starting school later, there are, of course, cons to the proposition as well.
Most likely, the entire student body and the staff as well are going to easily recognize the benefits to a later starting time. Among them are more sleep, time for a proper breakfast, not nodding off in class, etc. Studies have shown that a later school start is very beneficial to the average student academically and medically. The National Sleep Foundation (yes, there is such a thing) reports that from ages 13-19, the brain chemical melatonin is secreted from 11 p.m. to 8 a.m., causing a late-to-bed, late-to-rise cycle. According to Finley Edwards in Education Next, starting school later can enhance a student’s G.P.A. and temperament. It also corresponds to higher overall achievement in teenagers. It has also been proven to be a money saver for districts as well by staggering start times and merging with middle/elementary schools. Some sources claim that it even reduces delinquency and enhances psychomotor performance, resulting in fewer car crashes.
It would be very hard not to acknowledge that it is a very positive change according to most researchers. Yet any change at all is met with many barriers at the political level. As many of the school staff know, any type of change within a school system is very hard to push forward. District officials, the P.T.A., and other heads of the system will always have members who are strongly against a change like this, no matter how small. Some argue that reorganizing the bus route schedule is very expensive. However this was met with even more resistance because this would mean that the younger students would have to wait for buses in early morning or late in evening. A major advantage of having early start time was that extra curricular activities had more time because dismissal was earlier. With the later start times it is very common that students need to be taken from school early due to these activities, causing them to miss some of class, in many cases, for days in a row.
The advantages are crystal clear, however the disadvantages still remain, causing many districts to avoid making the change. Many districts across the country are changing start times for high school students. Even if these changes are slow, it is clearly happening.
Hopefully one day every school will be able to enjoy the change we made years ago. So let’s view ourselves as lucky that District 197 is among the proud first ones to make the change and live by it for the sake of the student achievement.