When the Bell Rings…School Start Times

wp-image-1243661626You may have seen a recent article in the Ojai Valley News about the school board considering later starting times for high school students. It’s an ongoing and longstanding discussion nationwide. As this recent article on the website for the National Education Association says, compelling recent studies continue to suggest that there are real physiological reasons for adolescents to start school later, specifically after 8:30 a.m. The study points to higher graduation rates and better attendance. The study isn’t bullet-proof, but it’s pretty convincing.

Of course, there are a few caveats to every study. [The study] did not specifically measure the amount of sleep each student in the study got, but instead relied on prior research that linked later school times to more sleep. She also acknowledges that multiple factors play a role in graduation and attendance rates, but it is clear that there is a statistically significant difference between these rates after a delayed start time was implemented.

Complicating the issue are the real concerns of parents, especially working parents, who may have to make childcare changes or work schedule changes. Later start times mean later end times, and some parents worry that it means less time for sports and other outside activities, or homework.

OUSD administration would face bus schedule challenges, and would definitely face sports team transportation challenges. Some away games are pretty far away, and game start times already require athletes to leave school early on those days. A later start time could mean they’d miss more of their school day on away game days than they do now.

There are no easy answers, but the OUSD Board will soon begin discussing this proposal in earnest. What do you think?

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