3rd 2012
New Study: Sleeping In, Starting Late Helps Middle Schoolers Learn a Little More

Posted under Innovation and Reform & Middle School & Research & School Board

I write here about a lot of different issues related to education and education policy. But this one may be a first for me: How early should school start? When it comes to the bigger kids, middle school and high school students, new research by Finley Edwards featured at Education Next suggests it may actually be better to let them sleep in a little longer, especially the underperforming students. After looking at schools and student results in Wake County, North Carolina, he concludes:

Later school start times have been touted as a way to increase student performance. There has not, however, been much empirical evidence supporting this claim or calculating how large an effect later start times might have. My results indicate that delaying the start times of middle schools that currently open at 7:30 by one hour would increase math and reading scores by 2 to 3 percentile points, an impact that persists into at least the 10th grade.

These results suggest that delaying start times may be a cost-effective method of increasing student performance. Since the effect of later start times is stronger for the lower end of the distribution of test scores, later start times may be particularly effective in meeting accountability standards that require a minimum level of competency.

Of course, I’m not old enough yet for these findings to provide me with any personal benefit. But this research offers one more small, promising idea to local Colorado education innovators who are trying to find ways to spend existing K-12 dollars more productively.

What do you think? Go ahead and debate amongst yourselves. In the meantime, (yawn) I think I’ll go take a nap. Zzzzzz…


2 Responses to “New Study: Sleeping In, Starting Late Helps Middle Schoolers Learn a Little More”

  1. Terra Ziporyn Snider, Ph.D. on 04 May 2012 at 12:51 pm #

    I think that if you’re 5 years old, there’s no better time than now than to get involved in the Start School Later initiative. My own children are now 24, 22, and 17, and I’ve been fighting for sane, humane start times since before they were born. The evidence on health effects of extremely early hours (I’m talking about 7 a.m., with buses even earlier) has been clear since the 1990s (see, for example, Getting local school systems to change is another matter. For more on what you can do to help, see By bringing people together from around the country, we think there’s no hope for fixing this problem before it’s too late for you. So many problems in education are insurmountable. This one is not, but we have to make it a priority.

  2. Ed is Watching » Would Letting Kids Sleep In More Help Academic Results? Please Say Yes on 01 Jul 2014 at 10:52 am #

    [...] couple years ago I directed your attention to research that suggested small positive benefits for middle schoolers who delayed early start [...]

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