Education chief: Maybe start school later in day - WSPA.com

Education chief: Maybe start school later in day

Posted: Updated:

A later start to the school day could help teenagers get the most from their classroom time and local districts should consider delaying the first bell, Education Secretary Arne Duncan said Wednesday.

School districts would still be free to set their own start times, Duncan insisted in a broadcast interview, but he pointed to research that backs up his comments that rested students are ready students. Duncan said he would not be telling local school leaders when their first bells should ring and said it was up to local leaders to make the decisions on their own.

"There's lots of research and common sense that lots of teens struggle to get up ... to get on the bus," said Duncan, the former chief of Chicago Public Schools.

Buses are a driving factor in when schools start their days, as are after-school jobs for teenagers, extracurricular activities and interscholastic sports. The challenge of transporting students to these activities - as well as classes - often is cited as a reason high school days begin at dawn and end mid-afternoon.

"So often, we design school systems that work for adults and not for kids," Duncan said.

Research backs up Duncan's worries about student sleep patterns and academic achievement.

"Children who sleep poorly are doing more poorly on academic performance," said Joseph Buckhalt, a distinguished professor at Auburn University's College of Education.

He has been tracking sleeping patterns of 250 children as well as their IQ tests, performance on standardized tests, their grades and behavior. His findings suggest sleep is just as important to student achievement as diet and exercise.

"All the data that we've seen on sleep shows that children, especially teenagers, are sleeping less," he said. "If you don't sleep well, you don't think very well."

Part of the lack of sleep is biological as teenagers go through puberty, he said. But afterschool programs such as sports or clubs, as well as increased pressure for students to perform well academically, keep them up later than is prudent. Add in caffeine, non-step social interactions through text messages and Facebook and sometimes less-than-ideal home environments, and students have steep challenges.

For students from less affluent families, the effects can be compounded, Buckhalt found.

"Fifty years ago we learned that hungry kids don't do well in school. Now we know that sleepy children don't do well in school," Buckhalt said. "Now we have to do something about it."

That doesn't mean schools are rushing to delay the first period for high school students.

"If any issue cries for local decision making, this is one," said Patte Barth, director for the Center for Public Education at the National School Boards Association.

The professional organization has not taken a position on the ideal time to start schools, but Barth said Duncan is correct. "Teenagers are much more alert later in the day rather than earlier," she said.

In schools where the day starts later, there have been immediate gains, she said.

"Some districts have made these adjustments to the school day and they have found among their teenagers that attendance is better, kids aren't falling asleep," she said.

But it comes at a cost for other students, both in terms of dollars and opportunities because schools are operating with limited resources.

"If you're starting the high school kids later, you're starting elementary kids earlier. No one wants those kids out on the streets when it's dark," she said. "If they're contemplating this switch, they need to look at the costs."

 

  • 8 On Your SideMore>>

  • Back-to-School Tax-free Holiday is here

    Back-to-School Tax-free Holiday is here

    Friday, August 1 2014 8:52 AM EDT2014-08-01 12:52:56 GMT
    It's almost time to head back to school and that means it's time to shop.
    It's almost time to head back to school and that means it's time to shop.
  • Tampa Bay woman feels ripped off, pays $61 for coins worth $1.50

    Tampa Bay woman feels ripped off, pays $61 for coins worth $1.50

    Thursday, July 31 2014 6:10 PM EDT2014-07-31 22:10:55 GMT
    Vickie McInnis responded to a newspaper ad promising a chance to buy old, rarely-seen coins.Vickie McInnis responded to a newspaper ad promising a chance to buy old, rarely-seen coins.
    Vickie McInnis responded to a newspaper ad promising a chance to buy old, rarely-seen coins that have been sitting in a bank vault for years.With shipping, she paid $61.43. But, here's what she received: a bag of about 100 pennies, worth at most: $1.50.
    Vickie McInnis responded to a newspaper ad promising a chance to buy old, rarely-seen coins that have been sitting in a bank vault for years.With shipping, she paid $61.43. But, here's what she received: a bag of about 100 pennies, worth at most: $1.50.
  • Tampa Bay Water begins filling Bill Young reservoir

    Tampa Bay Water begins filling Bill Young reservoir

    Thursday, July 31 2014 5:45 PM EDT2014-07-31 21:45:52 GMT
    Tampa Bay Water is celebrating a rebirth of sort for its beleaguered Bill Young reservoir. TBW is now diverting water from the Alafia river and filling the reservoir after a massive gutting and renovation project that cost in excess of $124 million dollars.
    Tampa Bay Water is celebrating a rebirth of sort for its beleaguered Bill Young reservoir. TBW is now diverting water from the Alafia river and filling the reservoir after a massive gutting and renovation project that cost in excess of $124 million dollars.
  • NewsMore>>

  • Pinellas school district asks Crist to pull TV ad

    Pinellas school district asks Crist to pull TV ad

    Friday, August 1 2014 5:32 AM EDT2014-08-01 09:32:42 GMT
    The Pinellas County school district is asking former Gov. Charlie Crist to pull a television ad filmed at an area high school.
    The Pinellas County school district is asking former Gov. Charlie Crist to pull a television ad filmed at an area high school.
  • Closing US 301 for repairs create headaches

    Closing US 301 for repairs create headaches

    Friday, August 1 2014 12:16 AM EDT2014-08-01 04:16:16 GMT
    It’s been a headache for many who travel U.S. Highway 301 in Riverview after the roadway was shut down. But FDOT expects the roadway to be back open about midnight Thursday.After a nearby construction crew damaged a 24-inch water line in the area, water poured out and created a hole, damaging the asphalt on U.S. 301.“It’s still every penny counts, I would say $30 to $50 possibly,” is how much the road closure cost Bee...
    It’s been a headache for many who travel U.S. Highway 301 in Riverview after the roadway was shut down. But FDOT expects the roadway to be back open about midnight Thursday.After a nearby construction crew damaged a 24-inch water line in the area, water poured out and created a hole, damaging the asphalt on U.S. 301.“It’s still every penny counts, I would say $30 to $50 possibly,” is how much the road closure cost Bee...
  • New "Fire challenge" video spurs warnings

    New "Fire challenge" video spurs warnings

    Thursday, July 31 2014 10:43 PM EDT2014-08-01 02:43:41 GMT
    Videos of a dangerous stunt are spreading all across social media. You can see examples on sites like Youtube and Facebook. It's called "The Fire Challenge" and involves young people dousing themselves with rubbing alcohol and lighting it up on their bodies. Burn victim and now, Tampa General Hospital volunteer, Joe Versaggi, knows all about the horrors of fire. He's undergone 30 surgeries after a fiery plane crash 8...
    Videos of a dangerous stunt are spreading all across social media. You can see examples on sites like Youtube and Facebook. It's called "The Fire Challenge" and involves young people dousing themselves with rubbing alcohol and lighting it up on their bodies. Burn victim and now, Tampa General Hospital volunteer, Joe Versaggi, knows all about the horrors of fire. He's undergone 30 surgeries after a fiery plane crash 8...
  • Sign up for WFLA News Channel 8 Email Alerts

    * denotes required fields






    Thank you for signing up! You will receive a confirmation email shortly.
Powered by WorldNow

250 International Dr.
Spartanburg, S.C. 29303

Telephone: 864.576.7777
Fax: 864.587.5430
Email: webmaster@wspa.com

Can't find something?
Powered by WorldNow
All content © Copyright 2000 - 2014 Media General Communications Holdings, LLC. A Media General Company.