Study: Parents have mixed feelings about later school start times

school start times

As a new school year kicks off, students across the country are readjusting to early-morning start times.

I’ve been out of high school for nearly 15 years and I can still vividly remember the daily struggle of pulling myself out of bed to go to school. Despite three alarms and my mother’s persistent efforts, it never seemed to get any easier.

A growing body of research suggests students’ early-morning struggles have a real basis in science.

Now, school districts across the country are considering the merits of later school start times. While sleep and education experts extol the potential academic benefits of later start times, other groups, including some parents, contend proposed schedule changes will have a negative impact on student activities and family life outside of school.

Starting later

A study last year from the National Sleep Foundation found that teens need at least nine hours of sleep to achieve optimal mental performance during the school day. Similar studies have found that later school start times may correspond with higher academic achievement.

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California State Sen. Anthony Portantino says more than 400 districts have experimented with later start times and many have reported increased academic performance and safer learning environments.

In July, Portantino sponsored a bill that would bar all K12 schools in the state from starting earlier than 8:30 a.m., as CBS Los Angeles reports.

Taking a second look

Despite increasing support for later school start times, a new study finds that parents are split on the idea.

A recent study out of the University of Michigan finds that 51 percent of parents support later school start times, according to Science Daily. Two factors for parents who opposed the change were transportation and concerns about how after-school activities might be affected.

The study also found that opposition to later school start times among parents was partially attributable to a misunderstanding about the amount of sleep students need. While many parents said that their students could function well with seven or less hours of sleep, scientific research contradicts such assertions.

As University of Michigan researcher Galit Dunietz tells Science Daily:

“We found that parents underestimated how much sleep their children needed, and only about half agreed with existing recommendations that school start times should be later.”

Is your school or district considering later school start times this year? What steps are you taking to engage parents and other community members in these decisions? Tell us in the comments.


About the Author

Todd Kominiak
Todd is Managing Editor of TrustED. Email: tkominiak@k12insight.com.

1 Comment on "Study: Parents have mixed feelings about later school start times"

  1. Andra Broadwater | August 29, 2017 at 7:36 pm | Reply

    Student health and well-being must come first, not the convenience of adults. I think parents are objecting to change overall, not the effects it would have on their families. Schools must do what’s best for the kids, not what’s best for the adults.

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