By Stacy Simera, MSSA, LISW-S, SAP (Contact)
To be delivered to: Dewey Chapman, Superintendent, Portage County ESC
LOCATION NOTE: This petition was originally written for Portage County but support quickly grew throughout Northeast Ohio. We will therefore share this with the ESC in any NE Ohio county represented by signatures. A national petition is also available via the Start School Later website below.
For the health, education, and safety of our youth it is recommended that middle and high schools start after 8:30 am. Schools across the nation have acted upon these recommendations, and the best first step is to simply create a committee to discuss the concept.
The recommendation to delay start times for middle and high school is due to a later shift in sleep cycle that occurs during puberty. Because of this temporary later shift in circadian rhythm teens cannot fall asleep early enough to accommodate an early morning wake time - which results in chronic sleep deprivation and a myriad of associated problems including obesity, increased sports injuries, changes in insulin resistance, cognitive deficits, and behavioral problems.
Among schools that have changed the benefits include: decreased auto accidents, increased enrollment, improved grades, higher standardized test scores, improved behavior, and fewer nurse and counseling referrals.
There are too many studies to list them all, but here’s a few highlights:
Auto Accidents: 24.3% reduction in teen auto accidents in Fayette County KY compared to the rest of the state after high schools changed from 7:30 am to 8:30 am start times. (Danner and Phillips, 2008)
Grades: Improved grades for 7th grade girls and 8th grade boys and girls in middle schools that started at 8:37 am compared to middle schools that started at 7:25 am in Rhode Island. Remember that girls hit puberty before boys. (Wolfson et al, 2007)
Improved grades among US Air Force Academy Cadets who started their day at 7:50 am compared to 7:00 am. Remember that puberty extends into the early 20’s. Many colleges are avoiding offering classes before 8:30 am. (Carell et al, 2011)
SAT Scores: Average increase of 156 points in verbal and 56 points in math among the top 10% of students after Edina, MN schools changed from 7:25 am to 8:30 am start times. (CAREI School Start Time Study, 1998-2001)
Sports Injuries: 68% reduction in sports injuries among students who get one hour more sleep than their peers. (Milewski, 2012)
Financial Benefits: Estimated benefit to cost ratio of 9 to 1 in changing high schools to one hour later. (From the Brookings Institute Hamilton Project report: “Organizing Schools to Improve Student Achievement: Start Times, Grade Configurations, and Teacher Assignments” available at: http://www.hamiltonproject.org/files/downloads_and_links/092011_organize_jacob_rockoff_paper.pdf)
Additional resources for more information:
The National Sleep Foundation at www.sleepfoundation.org.
The national non-profit group Start School Later at www.startschoollater.net.
An editorial by the British journal Education and Health:
“Sleepless in America: Changing School Start Times” – which specifically mentions Ohio – available at: http://sheu.org.uk/sites/sheu.org.uk/files/imagepicker/1/eh303ed2.pdf
For information about the NE Ohio Start School Later Facebook page, or for questions about the petition or clinical data, feel free to contact the petition representative S. Simera via the above link.
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