Switching School Start Times

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By Macy Bright

Every day teens wake up between 5 and 6 AM to get ready for school. I believe that middle and high schools should switch start times with elementary schools. The Center for Disease Control’s Youth Risk Behavior Survey in 2015 showed that 73% of U.S high school students get fewer than 8 hours of sleep on school nights, and 43% get 6 or fewer hours. Because of this, middle and high schools should change the start of school to two hours later.

Starting school later would increase students’ academic success. Teenagers aren’t fully awake until between 9 AM and 10 AM. When your brain isn’t fully awake, it’s a lot harder to learn and retain information. Many studies have also shown that when students are fully awake, they are more likely to do better on tests. A study at the US Air Force Academy, showed that students starting classes after 8 am performed better not only in their first classes but throughout the day as well. So delaying the school start time would raise test scores, such as the ACT, which could be very good for schools, as well as for students when they go to apply for colleges.

Earlier school start times may also increase the risk of depression and anxiety in teens. Recent studies have shown that students who get up earlier are more likely to show symptoms of anxiety and depression. The National Sleep Foundation ran a test on teens of the ages 14-17 and separated them into two groups; those who started school before 8:30 am and those who started before 8:30 am. Over a one week period these teens were to keep a diary where they recorded their levels of sleep quality and duration, and their depression/anxiety symptoms. The results of this test showed that teens who got less sleep had higher levels of anxiety/depression. Sometimes an extra hour or two can make a huge difference when it comes to mental health. So, by not switching the times we could be putting students’ mental health in danger.

Switching the start times would also increase attendance and graduation rates. One of the main reasons why students don’t come to school or come into school late is because they overslept or they were simply too tired to come into school. But if school started two hours later, students can get more sleep and therefore attendance rates would increase. Sometimes, students don’t graduate on time because of how much school they missed. By increasing attendance, we can also increase graduation rates as well.

In conclusion, changing the start times of middle and high schools would be beneficial to everyone and would overall improve students’ lives. It would be beneficial because students’ grades and test scores can improve, it would improve the mental health of students, and it can increase attendance and graduation rates.