Education News

Doctors, Teachers Push Local Schools Boards to Delay School Start Times

Doctors and other experts say students in middle and high school should start school after 8:30 a.m.

The American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Medical Association and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend that middle and high schools start after 8:30 a.m. so teenagers can get enough sleep.
The American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Medical Association and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend that middle and high schools start after 8:30 a.m. so teenagers can get enough sleep.

 

 

There’s a growing push in Houston and across Texas to change when teenagers start school. The reason: science.

Teenagers have a different body clock than adults. It tells them to go to bed later and they need to get about nine hours of sleep. Dr. Sara Nowakowski at the University of Texas Medical Branch said that when teens don’t get enough sleep, it hurts their academics and their health.

“Empirical studies show it impacts academic performance. It will impact athletic performance. It impacts mental health and increased prevalence of depression,” she said.

Some local school districts are starting to consider this science, like the Goose Creek and Houston Independent School District, as the campaign called “Start School Later” gains traction in Texas.

Yen Rabe leads the Houston chapter of that group and also teaches in Pasadena, where her high schools starts at 7:15 a.m.

Other districts like Spring and Sheldon start the same time. Aldine ISD starts even earlier at 7 a.m. Rabe said that she sees how sleep deprived her students are and how hard it is for them to learn.

“First period students are sleeping, second period and third period, and throughout the whole day,” Rabe recounted.

Doctors and other experts say students in middle and high school should start school after 8:30 a.m.

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Laura Isensee

Laura Isensee

Education Reporter

Laura Isensee covers education for Houston Public Media, including K-12 and higher education. Previously, she was a staff reporter at The Miami Herald and contributed to South Florida’s NPR affiliate. Her work has also appeared in The Dallas Morning News, Reuters and Clarín in Argentina. Laura has won awards for...

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