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Should Later Start Times for Schools Be Federally Mandated?

Should Later Start Times for Schools Be Federally Mandated?

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report published data from 2011-2012 that revealed fewer than 1 in 5 middle school and high schools adhere to the recommendation of starting school no earlier than 8:30 AM.

The CDC and Department of Education reviewed data from the "2011-2012 Schools and Staffing Survey of nearly 40,000 public middle, high, and combined schools to determine school start times," the CDC said in a statement.

The review comes after the American Academy of Pediatrics issued a statement in 2014 urging administrators to dictate that school start times are not before 8:30 AM in order to ensure students get enough sleep for the sake of their health.

"Schools that have a start time of 8:30 AM or later allow adolescent students the opportunity to get the recommended amount of sleep on school nights: about 8.5 to 9.5 hours. Insufficient sleep is common among high school students and is associated with several health risks such as being overweight, drinking alcohol, smoking tobacco, and using drugs – as well as poor academic performance," the CDC's statement said.

Indeed, the Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance Report revealed in 2013 that since 2007, the proportion of high school students who fail to get enough sleep is 2 out of 3.

The report found that 42 states reported that 75-100 percent of its public schools open earlier than 8:30 AM. It also found the average start time for schools nationwide is 8:03 AM.

The earliest average start time was found in Louisiana public schools, with schools starting around an average time of 7:40 AM. Alaska public schools, on the other hand, saw the latest average start time at 8:33 AM.

The disparity between start times across states and schools is because there is no government mandate on a federal or state level on what time schools should open. School start times are decided on a district or individual school basis.

According to the CDC's statement, in general educators and parents should be more aware of how important the student's sleep schedule is.

"The authors report that delayed school start times do not replace the need for other interventions that can improve sleep among adolescents. Parents can help their children practice good sleep habits. For example, a consistent bedtime and rise time, including on weekends, is recommended for everyone, including children, adolescents, and adults."

Read the full report here and comment with your thoughts below.

Article by Nicole Gorman, Education World Contributor


Should school start times be mandated by the government?

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