Change High School Start Time
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This petition advocates for high schools in the West Ada School District to start at 8:30 a.m. and end at 3:30 p.m., essentially switching the high school schedule with elementary school. Essentially, high schools start too early and students are too sleep deprived to work well or efficiently. By delaying the starting time of high schools, they have the potential to reap benefits in health, safety, development, learning capability, and social interactions.
Why the status quo needs to change:
The current start time for most West Ada high schools is 7:40 a.m.. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that high schools start no earlier than 8:30 a.m. because of teenage sleep patterns. According to the National Sleep Foundation, adolescents need 8-10 hours of sleep. However, the average amount of sleep for teens on school nights is only seven hours. Lack of rest, in the short term, results in mood swings, decreased test scores, as well increased risk for car crashes. Long term, it increase the risk for Obstructive Sleep Apnea (or the closing of airways), Narcolepsy, Circadian Rhythm Sleep Disorders, High Blood Pressure, Heart Disease, Type 2 Diabetes, Obesity, and Depression. By changing high school start times, even by 50 minutes, the American Psychological Association finds a increase in attendance, GPA, assessment scores, quality of student-family interaction, and attention while also a decrease in disciplinary action, student-involved car accidents, and sleeping during class.
What is sleep deprivation?:
According to Pediatrician Judith Owens, “Chronic sleep loss in children and adolescents is one of the most common – and easily fixable – public health issues in the U.S. today.” The National Sleep Foundation finds that, in teens, the melatonin levels in your blood naturally rise later at night compared to children and adults. The University of California Las Angeles stated, "Before puberty, your body makes you sleepy around 8:00 or 9:00 pm. When puberty begins, this rhythm shifts a couple hours later. Now, your body tells you to go to sleep around 10:00 or 11:00 pm.” This means that teens are physiologically incapable to sleep until the late hours of night, regardless of how long it’s been since they last slept. This causes sleep deprivation.
In order to solve this problem, this petition advocates for high schools in the West Ada School District to start at 8:30 a.m., essentially switching high school start times with elementary school start times. This solution would not affect transportation quantity and children below the age of 12 tend to wake up earlier, regardless. In terms of teachers, this solution allows high school teachers to spend more time before school to help students and even sleep in, too. Elementary teachers would have to go in sooner, yes. But this also means they can leave earlier and, since they have to complete less tedious grading, can go home sooner. Also, this change would allow working parents to drop off younger kids prior to work. Overall, changing high school start and end times would be beneficial to the students, parents, and teachers that are are impacted by this decision.
One major concern is that later start and end times would interfere with sports and extracurrculars. However, an article published by the National Sleep Foundation states, “Sleep deprivation has a severe negative impact on coordination and endurance, so it make sense that better rested student athletes would perform better.” In the cases of Wilton High School, Connecticut and Nathan Hale High School, Washington, team performance actually increased with later start times. So while practice may run short, the quality of work during that period is seen to compensate for it.
This petition is mainly addressed to the West Ada School District of Idaho, but can be applied to schools throughout Idaho and all across the United States.
If you want to read more about high school start times, feel free to look at the links provided.
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