Recent research has shown that high school students perform better by starting school later in the day. After much review and consideration, officials in St Paul Minnesota are revising the daily schedule.
Parents and teachers have been questioning the early start time for years. With the results of the research, officials are changing the start time of the school day for high school students.
Earlier research has been bolstered by a recent study out of the University of Minnesota which suggests that teenagers’ academics and health benefit from starting the school day later.
There would be trade-offs. The St. Paul district is reluctant to scrap its current system in which yellow buses deliver students in three shifts: 7:30 a.m. at most high schools and middle schools, 8:30 a.m. or 9:30 a.m. for elementary schools. If high schools push their start back, other schools would start earlier, forcing a major adjustment all around.
“It’s an enormously challenging prospect to weigh the pros and cons in a decision with such wide-reaching impact,” said Ryan Vernosh, the district’s strategic planning and policy administrator.
After narrowing down almost a dozen start-time scenarios to two, the district launched an effort to get input into a decision for fall 2015. It even recruited Kyla Wahlstrom, the U expert behind the latest research, to serve on a steering committee.
Wahlstrom says she’s spoken with some 300 districts nationally over more than 15 years of studying the issue. There were early adopters of later high school start times, including Minnesota districts such as Minneapolis and Edina. But many held back, especially large urban districts such as St. Paul. Now, some of the country’s most populous districts are eyeing changes.
“These are hard decisions, with some real, honest sticking points,” she said. “It’s important to have the facts and not operate on assumptions.”