Are later start times for high school students a good idea?

“St. Paul Public Schools administrators are taking a serious look at starting high school later in the morning,” reports the Associated Press.

The school district has weighed nearly a dozen start-time scenarios and narrowed that down to two for further study and input.

The St. Paul Pioneer Press says recent research, including a University of Minnesota study, shows a later start improves attendance, grades and test scores for high school students and lowers incidents of depression.

Most high schools and middle schools in St. Paul start at 7:30 a.m. Elementary students arrive at 8:30 or 9:30 a.m.

Minneapolis and Edina schools were early participants in the later start times.

Today’s Question: Are later start times for high school students a good idea?

  • Pearly


    • kevins

      That’s what the teenagers are doing.

  • bob hicks

    School administrators must be the only people on earth who don’t understand the adolescent sleep cycle. It verges on incompetence to expect someone who doesn’t get sleepy until midnight or later, to get up at 5 or 6 in the morning and be in school at 7:30. Sleep deprivation and poor learning outcomes are the only things guaranteed by this practice. .

  • kevins

    Yes. We know enough about the brains of teens now, especially the qualitative differences in neuronal connectivity and neurotransmitter functioning, to know that they respond differently to day-night cycles than adults do. Some will handle early activities well, but many will not, and reconfiguring the school schedule to meet brain needs seems reasonable. They will fit an 8 to 5 schedule later.

  • PaulJ

    Why don’t they just go to bed earlier? The light/dark cycle varies so much by season, so sunshine can’t be an excuse for not “.. get[ting their ]fanny perpendicular and ready for school”.

  • Rich in Duluth

    Yes. If the research shows that students do better when they start later, then it seems appropriate to start later.

  • Sue de Nim

    I think it would be good public policy for the school day to start at about the same time most workers start their day, 8:30 or 9:00. That would minimize the amount of time kids are unsupervised after school.

    • paulJ

      The point of staying up late and sleeping in, is probably to avoid supervision.

    • Sounds like a good idea, but

      Agreed, but then, how many full time workers start at 8:30 or 9, and get off at 2:30 or 3? 6 hours is apparently considered ‘full time’ in some businesses, but in the real world, a 8 hour work day is recognized as the standard. Since this is true, do you propose to keep kids in class till at least 4:30 or 5, to get in somewhat of a full day? Unfortunately, not very realistic, with all the things they have going on ‘after school’ these days. I’d support it, but I think I’d be in the tiny minority. Lets poll the kids, and get their opinions on it!

      • Yanotha Twangai

        It seems to me that the point is, if the 6 hour school day starts before the parents’ 8 hour work day, then there’s more than two hours of unsupervised time; if after, then it’s at most two hours. Duh.

        • Sounds like a good idea, but

          I didn’t get the impression that this discussion was about “babysitting” kids after school, it was about the best time for the kids to most efficiently work via their physiological makeup. Not about the parents, about the kids. Duh.

  • Jim G

    Yes. The problem is the bus schedule and coordinating the start times for all the elementarys, middle schools, junior highs, high schools, special education centers, etc. in each district. It’s a puzzle that creative minds love.

    • Steve DeLapp

      The problem is not the bus schedule. The problem is the administrators who make the bus schedule and the taxpayers who refuse to fund education as a top priority. In very rich Washington County, the taxpayers will not fund more than $10,000 a year in expenses for the brightest students who will lead our future. Compare this to the $16-$20,000 per student provided in New York and New England public schools per student. This is one area where Minnesota and Texas agree.

  • Sounds like a good idea, but

    Well, I’ve read the arguments and studies about it being better for teens to sleep later, but here is the big issue, the school day. So, if they get there by 9, and want to leave by 3 at the latest, if not 2:30 because of Jobs, Sports, Activities, or Whatever, well, how much time does that actually leave for teaching and the “school day” itself? Do we honestly propose to restrict kids to the classroom till 4pm or later? Not a chance in.. well, you know where. So if not, then the kids achievement suffers, and we fall further and further behind the other industrialized countries in terms of educational achievement. If you truly believe you can keep them till 4 or 4:30, then by all means, start school at 9am. But that’s about as likely as closing the achievement gap in less than a generation.

  • Steve DeLapp

    For 12 years, starting 60 years ago, I attended public school classes from 8:30 AM to 2:30 PM. The town’s schools still start at 8:30 AM. The school board members were not idiots then and they are not idiots now. I cannot imagine starting school at 7:30 AM and presumably ending classes at 1:30 PM. However, this was on the East Coast and it seems everything in Minnesota happens at the same time it happens on the East Coast, such as TV programs, the start of the business day, and the start of schools. Only the sun operates on a different time zone, which is a problem. At least in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, their clocks show Eastern Time instead of having 12 noon when the sun is highest in the sky.

    • Time zoning around

      Actually Steve, if you look at many ads for TV shows, you will see them listed as 10pm/9 central. I think you are thinking of the west coast, where they really time shift a lot of programs. As to the start of the work day, actually I understand many big city east coast businesses start at 9am, and we often start any time between 8 and 9. No idea why east coasters appear to be so ‘lazy’, that has puzzled me for quite some time. Suns up, get to work! lol