Teens tend to get sleepy about 11 p.m. and wake up around 8 a.m.—a biological drive that maximizes brain development. So, when school starts at 7:30 a.m., it’s the equivalent of an adult attending a meeting at 4:30 a.m. Studies have shown that later start times improve academic performance (slightly) and attendance, lower dropout rates, reduce conflicts with parents and peers, and decrease reports of depression. In response, 38 school districts in 18 states have changed their start times, and an additional 108 districts are considering making the change.
While educational experts are pleased with the change, many others, including parents, teachers, administrators, and coaches, are opposed to it. They are concerned that when parents leave for work, children may still be asleep and that after-school activities will run too late into the evening.