Later school start time gave small boost to grades but big boost to sleep, new study finds

By: | April 26, 2021

The physical and mental health benefits of getting a good night’s sleep are indisputable. What’s less clear is whether starting school later in the morning will prompt kids to sleep more and consequently learn more during the school day. Fewer studies have looked at academic achievement after a later morning bell. Some have found improved student performance. Some haven’t.

A new study in Minnesota documents what happened to 18,000 students in grades 5 through 11 after four school districts postponed the start of the school day by 20 to 65 minutes. Student grades increased a little, raising students’ grade point averages by an extra 0.1 points, on average. That’s the equivalent of moving from, say, a B average of a 3.1 to a B average of a 3.2.

Despite concerns that kids would just stay up later at night if school started later in the morning, many students reported sleeping more. After the switch in start times, students were 16 percent more likely to meet the recommended hours of sleep, which is nine or more hours for students in grades 5 and 8 and at least eight hours for students in grades 9 and 11.

Read more from The Hechinger Report.

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