Education News: School Starts Too Early?


School Starts Too Early

The later high school classes start in the morning, the more academic performance improves

Parents, students and teachers often argue, with little evidence, about whether U.S. high schools begin too early in the morning. In the past three years, however, scientific studies have piled up, and they all lead to the same conclusion: a later start time improves learning. And the later the start, the better.Biological research shows that circadian rhythms shift during the teen years, pushing boys and girls to stay up later at night and sleep later into the morning. The phase shift, driven by a change in melatonin in the brain, begins around age 13, gets stronger by ages 15 and 16, and peaks at ages 17, 18 or 19.

Does that affect learning? It does, according to Kyla Wahlstrom, director of the Center for Applied Research and Educational Improvement at the University of Minnesota. She published a large study in February that tracked more than 9,000 students in eight public high schools in Minnesota, Colorado and Wyoming. After one semester, when school began at 8:35 a.m. or later, grades earned in math, English, science and social studies typically rose a quarter step—for example, up halfway from B to B+.

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2 thoughts on “Education News: School Starts Too Early?”

  1. For what it’s worth, I certainly thought classes began too early, but I’m naturally a very night-oriented person. My first several weeks in Singapore were a great time of productivity for me because my body was twelve hours out of synch with the sun. Unfortunately I eventually acclimated and had trouble getting up before ten in the morning again.


    1. Thanks for the comment! I am also more of a night-oriented person. In fact, I never really got used to the Singapore education system even after 10 years of waking up at 6am! Hope more schools can heed the research and start school later for the benefit of students.


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