School Start Time Dilemma

DING! DING! This familiar sound awakens most teens all across America. It is the sound of their alarms  going off at 6 a.m. on a normal weekday. Why must teens wake up this early? It is because of school start times. However, students need a later school start time for many reasons. It gives teens the opportunity to get much-needed sleep, as well as improvements in teens’ grades, and it helps them be healthier.

 Many teenagers are not getting enough sleep, and this is often due to early school start times. Teens’ bodies are naturally in what is called “a sleep phase,” which takes place between ages eleven through eighteen normally. During a sleep phase, teen bodies are designed to go to sleep later and wake up later. Teens need about 9.5 hours of sleep nightly. With the current school schedule, the average teen gets only seven hours. “Yes, a later start time would be better because a lot of people wake up at to 5 am just to get ready for school and skip breakfast,” sophomore Elias Skopelitis said.

 According to the National Sleep Foundation, 73% of high school students believe they do not get enough sleep. When the human body doesn’t get enough sleep, the mind will not work as well. Studies prove that humans with less sleep have a much shorter attention span and are more likely to forget new information easier and quicker. A later school start time gives students much help to perform during the school day.

 A later school start time has a positive effect on students’ grades because it gives them a longer attention span and a better morning. Obviously, these factors would dramatically affect a student’s school performance. In addition, schools with later start times have higher attendance rates. “Many high schools in Kentucky and Minneapolis made the change to a later start time, and their attendance and test scores immediately rose,” reported the StarTribune. The failure rates also go down as the school start time gets later. Students who are awake can pay attention during school, which leads to better grades and lower dropout rates.

 Most importantly, a later school start time has a positive impact on students’ health. “I think our health is what is most important,” sophomore Marc Grundon said. Students who go to a high school with a later start time have generally had far fewer problems with issues such as stress, depression, irritation, unhappiness, and drug or alcohol abuse. With all of these issues being lessened, along with reducing the issue of being too tired, teen-related auto accidents have been on average 15% fewer in areas where schools have later start times. Staying alive is obviously the ultimate way to be healthy, which could be helped with a later school start time.

 Many schools around the country are considering changing to a later start time, but not West Shore School District. Principal Dr. Kevin Fillgrove said he is aware of the start time issue. “Yes, I have read research about the benefits,” Fillgrove said. He noted that he was personally in favor of later start. “The board hasn’t talked about it to my knowledge.” The biggest reasons that he gave against later start times are “sports and transportation.” Fillgrove said the sports issue would be the easier of these two issues to resolve. “Neither issue would make it impossible, but there would be a lot of push back at first.” He said that he believes it will happen one day, “but not in the near future.”

Thumb and header Images from and Wikimedia Commons.

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