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Saturday, November 05, 2005

Does the school day start too early?

Tracy Jan’s article in yesterday’s Boston Globe indirectly quotes Brighton High School basketball coach:
To boost attendance, alertness, and academic achievement, Mahoney said, high schools should start later. High schools around the Bay State are considering the idea because federal law now rates schools on attendance and test scores. Scientific studies have found that most teenagers are biologically wired to go to bed and wake up later and that they do better in school if they get more sleep.
The school day at Brighton High School starts at 7:25, five minutes earlier than Weston High School, which has the longest school day in the state (according to thoroughly unscientific claims made by the vast majority of our students).

The article continues:
Next month, Mahoney hopes to persuade his colleagues to vote to start school 20 minutes later, at 7:45 a.m., beginning in January. In Boston Public Schools, a school can change its start time if 75 percent of the faculty agree.

Last year, half of the faculty rejected Mahoney’s request.
Of course the real problem is the bus schedules:
Even the Legislature is considering the idea of giving teenagers more sleep: A pending measure calls for directing the Massachusetts Board of Education to encourage high schools to start no earlier than 8:30 a.m.

Paying for such a change, however, might be problematic, particularly in suburban school systems, which often start high school early so they can use school buses again for younger students. Shrewsbury and Bedford recently scrapped plans to begin high school at 8 a.m. because of the cost.

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