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Teens More Alert When School Starts Later

Study Shows Later Start Time for High School Can Improve Students' Mood and Motivation

Debate Over School Start Times continued...

The researchers write that the school faculty did not favor the delayed class start time, but after seeing the students' change in attitude and performance, everyone had a change of heart. "Despite the initial considerable resistance voiced by the faculty and athletic coaches to instituting the start time delay and the original intentions of the school administration to return to the 8 a.m. start time after the trial period, students and faculty overwhelmingly voted to retain the 8:30 a.m. start for the spring term," the researchers write.

In an editorial published along with the study, Kyla Wahlstrom, PhD, from the University of Minnesota in St. Paul, writes that although Hasbro and her team's findings echo the results from earlier studies, schools are not jumping to adjust their schedules.

"The role of data and factual information in discussing and advocating for changing school start times is key. ... When the first findings emerged in 1997, the question remaining at that time concerned the effect of the later start time on academic outcomes," Wahlstrom writes. "Longitudinal research has since found several significant academic effects, such as decreasing the dropout rate, but a direct correlation between later start time and academic achievement on normed tests has not been substantiated."

"In the end, having comprehensive information and impartial presentation of what is known, and not assumed, is needed to really begin the local dialogue," Wahlstrom concludes. "The community at large is, after all, the final arbiter, as all must truly live with the consequences. Our teenagers need and deserve our best informed thinking about all of this; having the facts in hand is the best place to start."

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