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Arkansas State University

Should School Start Later?

Should school start later

Studies show that teenagers experience greater academic success when they begin school later in the morning. Scientists are touting the importance of sleep for students as a factor that directly affects a student’s productivity, emotional wellness and ability to learn. Although the data show a clear link between a teenager getting enough sleep and improving learning, there are very real logistical challenges that are standing in the way of putting later start times into practice.

Students enrolled in an online Master of Science in Education in Educational Leadership program learn more about the research surrounding students and sleep, as well as the potential benefits and challenges that come with later start times that may help schools improve learning for their students.

Biology of Teenage Sleep Habits

Teenagers are notorious for sleeping long hours, and researchers say that this is perfectly normal. As children transition to adolescents, their sleep habits and needs change. They may need to sleep longer hours and can experience a surge of fatigue during daytime hours. Teenagers also generally experience a sleep phase delay, which means they stay awake later in the night and wake up later in the morning. Researchers say that, especially with the changes that happen during puberty, the importance of sleep for students cannot be overstated.

The Impact of New Start Times on Families

For working parents who need to be at work by eight or nine in the morning, a late morning school start time might be problematic. For example, some parents may not feel comfortable with their children getting themselves to school. Another logistical issue hinges on the question of when students would return home. If students begin school at 11 a.m., would they not leave school until the evening? Many school officials and parents say this schedule is impractical.

Delays Disrupt Teachers’ Schedules

If student schedules change, it affects everyone directly supporting the school, including bus drivers, teachers, administrators and janitors. A later start time potentially disrupts the schedules and work contracts of many different people, who may not be receptive to the change.

Although the research linking the importance of sleep for students and improving learning is certainly compelling, there are still logistical challenges that may prevent schools from adopting later start times. As the debate continues, candidates earning their master’s degrees in education will likely find themselves immersed in this conversation, as it demonstrates the importance of research in shaping school policy.

Learn more about the A-State online MSE in Educational Leadership program.


The Washington Post: U.S. Doctors Urge Later School Start Times for Teens

Education Week: Teens Should Start School at 10 a.m., Scientists Suggest. Is That Realistic?

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