Sleepmore in Seattle: Later school start times are associated with more sleep and better performance in high school students

Science Advances, December 2018

Most teenagers are chronically sleep deprived. One strategy proposed to lengthen adolescent sleep is to delay secondary school start times. This would allow students to wake up later without shifting their bedtime, which is biologically determined by the circadian clock, resulting in a new increase in sleep. So far, there is no objective quantitative data showing that a single intervention such as delaying the school start time significantly increases daily sleep. The Seattle School District delayed the secondary school shart time by nearly an hour. We carried out a pre-/post-research study and show that there was an increase in the daily median sleep duration of 34 minutes, associated with a 4.5% increase in the median grades of the students and improvement in attendance. Read More >>

Why Does the School Day End Two Hours Before the Workday?

The eight-hour American workday caught on in the early 1900s, after decades of pressure from labor unions urging corporations to do away with exhausting, backbreaking schedules. Yet the American school day never adapted to match parents’ schedules: On average, U.S. students are in school for six and a half hours, five days a week—with a two-month summer break and a smattering of other vacations. We owe that structure largely to 19th-century school reformers, who, seeking a standard school year nationwide, aligned the rural school calendar—which gave students the spring and fall off for harvesting and planting—with the urban one, which dismissed students during the summers so their families could escape cities’ oppressive heat. There’s been some variation over the years: During the first half of the 20th century, for example, schools experimented with summer sessions to accommodate an influx of immigrant children. But most school districts settled into today’s schedule by the 1960s, when only about a third of adult women worked and could be counted on to watch their children when the last bell rang.

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Why Are Parents Afraid of Later School Start Times?

Research has shown that early school start times (7:30 a.m., for example) don’t square with adolescents’ sleep needs, and that later ones have positive effects on mental and physical health, as well as academic performance. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have even urged policymakers to move toward later start times—scientists tend to recommend pushing the bell to 8:30 a.m.—for middle and high-school students. Still, many school districts have been mired in years-long debates over the issue.

Yet, according to federal data from the 2015-16 school year, over 85 percent of public high schools still start before 8:30 a.m. While few question the scientific evidence supporting later start times, many parents and administrators argue that starting school later isn’t the best solution to kids’ sleep-deprivation problems, citing practical concerns. They wonder what later school end times would mean for sports and after-school activities, for example, and how much additional money districts would have to spend on transportation. Because many districts stagger their transportation in order to use the same buses for all of their students, pushing back middle and high-school start times could mean paying for more buses.

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Why School Should Start Later in the Morning

For the first time, the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is urging education policymakers to start middle- and high-school classes later in the morning. The idea is to improve the odds of adolescents getting sufficient sleep so they can thrive both physically and academically.

The CDC’s recommendations come a year after the American Academy of Pediatrics urged schools to adjust start times so more kids would get the recommended 8.5 to 9.5 hours of nightly rest. Both the CDC and the pediatricians’ group cited significant risks that come with lack of sleep, including higher rates of obesity and depression and motor-vehicle accidents among teens as well as an overall lower quality of life.

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Schools would start later under bill sent to California governor

September 1, 2018, Sacramento, CA

The California Legislature defied teachers and school boards late Friday to pass a mandate that all middle and high schools delay the start of classes until 8:30 a.m.

Supporters cite public research that says later school start times improve pupil health and link insufficient sleep to physical and mental health problems in adolescents. The California Teachers Association and the California School Boards Association pressured lawmakers to reject the bill, arguing that the Legislature should not dictate start times for diverse communities all over the state.

“It’s a public health issue....I think we have the moral imperative to act,” Portantino said.

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California school spending: Will $88.3 billion help disadvantaged kids?

Three years after Gov. Jerry Brown freed schools from spending controls and gave them extra cash to narrow a yawning achievement gap, the governor’s reform remains popular among schools — but there’s only scattered evidence that the state’s largesse is improving education for the most disadvantaged students.

When he signed what he dubbed a revolutionary law in 2013, Brown promised that money would flow to high-needs students hampered by language barriers, poverty and family instability. Through his new Local Control Funding Formula, Brown said the state would butt out of school spending decisions. Read More >>

California high school grad rate drops with new methodology

California’s 2017 high school graduation rate dropped slightly from the previous year due to a change in methodology prompted by a federal audit, according to much-delayed data released Thursday by the California Department of Education.

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$10 million grant boosts California teacher training in math, science

California State University officials announced on Monday they’d won a $10 million grant from the S.D. Bechtel Jr. Foundation to train current and future teachers on new math and science standards.

The funds will go to schools of education at the CSU campuses in Bakersfield, Channel Islands, Chico, Dominguez Hills, Fresno State, Fullerton, Long Beach, Monterey Bay, Sacramento, San Luis Obispo, and Stanislaus in sums ranging from $600,000 to $1.2 million. Area public schools will benefit through partnerships with the campus schools of education.
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Dual enrollment programs attracting more students in California high schools

Emma Centeno stood on the stage last month during her Santa Ana College graduation, proudly holding up her associate of arts degree to cheering friends and family.

Two weeks later, she stood on another graduation stage, this time to receive her high school diploma. “I was able to knock out two years of college before I even graduated high school,” said Centeno, 18, who will enroll this fall at UC Davis as a junior to study food science.

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High School Parent Engagement Group is not affiliated with the San Juan Unified School District