I read Nurture Shock by Po Bronson and Ashley Merryman a short time back after hearing about it from Memorial School Principal Karen Rickershauser. While there were a number of insights for both parents and educators in the book, one that I took away was in regards to a high school in Edina, Minnesota that changed its start time by one hour.
Here is an excerpt on why Edina High School decided to start one hour later:
"The decision to change the Edina High School start time from 7:25 to 8:30 was made in the spring of 1996 and implemented in the 1996-97 school year. The decision was made in response to a request from the Minnesota Medical Association (to all superintendents in Minnesota) to start high schools later, and that was in response to definitive medical research on adolescent sleep patterns from Brown and Johns Hopkins Universities. USA Today states that Edina was the first district in the nation to change start times based on that research."
More than a decade later, it strikes me as odd that a change such as this that is founded upon clear medical research and has concrete data that indicates tremendous gains for students has not been implemented in more schools. A later start time has been proven to increase student achievement dramatically, lower absences, lower the number of students diagnosed with depression and A.D.D. Then again, maybe I am missing something?
Therefore, we will try the late start for a few MCAS days and then analyze our testing results (as we always do) and see if there are any unexplainable positive gains. I will speculate in advance that there will be, especially if students utilize the extra hour for sleep. The next logical step would be a discussion about changing our start time across the board. I know that there would be some hurdles in accomplishing this change in operating procedure, but I do think that it is a discussion worth having.
I will post the MCAS schedule and the projected bus pickup times in the next day or so.