ASD Explores Potential Changes to School Start Times

  • Next Steps: School Start Times


    ASD has been exploring changes to its current school start times at the direction of the Anchorage School Board. In March and April, focus groups and open house events were held to inform the community and gather feedback.


    At the May 7 School Board meeting, two revised scenarios were presented by Western Demographics, the company conducting the District's Start Time Change Study. Both options have no classes starting before 8 a.m. The first option delays the current schedule so each level would start 30 minutes later; the second option has elementary starting an hour earlier at 8 a.m. followed by high school at 8:45 a.m. and middle school at 9:30 a.m.



    • A phone survey of parents in the community determine preferences
    • Superintendent will present the District's recommendation to the School Board at the May 21 meeting
    • School Board is scheduled to make a determination at the June 4 meeting


    If changes are approved to start times, they will be implemented in the 2019-20 school year.


    General Information


    ASD Explores Student Performance and Wellness

    National and university research, hospital studies, and observation on optimized school start times suggest:

    • Middle and high schools should start after 8:30 a.m.
    • Elementary students rise early and tire by mid-afternoon and could benefit from earlier start



    Later School Start Time Outcomes

    • Many U.S. school districts are implementing changes to later secondary start times and earlier elementary starts Better academic outcomes
    • Students achieve better academic results and realize other health benefits when they get eight hours or more sleep
    • Better attendance rates
    • Higher graduation rates
    • Reduced tardiness
    • Less depression
    • Less caffeine use
    • Fewer car crashes


    Some sources:


    Boergers, Julie, et al. “Later School Start Time Is Associated with Improved Sleep and Daytime Functioning in Adolescents.” Journal of Developmental & Behavioral Pediatrics, vol. 35, no. 1, 2014, pp. 11–17.

    Danner F; Phillips B. Adolescent sleep, school start times, and teen motor vehicle crashes. J Clin Sleep Med 2008;4(6):533–535.

    Pamela Malaspina McKeever and Linda Clark, PM, “Delayed high school start times later than 8:30 a.m. and impact on graduation rates and attendance rates,” Sleep Health 3, No. 2 (2017).

    Owens, Judith A., “Sleep Habits and Sleep Disturbance in Elementary School-Aged Children,” Division of Pediatric Ambulatory Medicine, Rhode Island Hospital, Vol. 21, No. 1, February 2000.

    Wahlstrom, Kyla, “Changing Times: Findings From the First Longitundinal Study of Later High School Start Times,” NASSP Bulletin, Vol. 86, Issue 633, December 1, 2002, pp. 3-21.


    Next Steps

    • Anchorage School Board decision in 2018
    • Implementation in 2019-20 school year
cartoon image of alarm clock
  • ASD School Start Time Potential Alternatives (see table below)

    • The proposed change is the exchange of elementary start time for high school
    • Elementary students start earlier and high school students start later
ASD School Start Time Potential Alternatives
  • Frequently Asked Questions


    Why is ASD considering a change?

    • National research on optimized school start times suggest that middle and high school students should not start school until after 8:30.
    • Research suggests elementary students rise early and tire by mid-afternoon—an earlier start could be beneficial.
    • University research and hospital studies indicate improvements in middle and high school student performance and wellness given later start times.
    • A significant Rand Corporation study indicates that high school student safety could improve dramatically with later start times.


    What are some of the academic and student performance benefits experiences elsewhere?

    • Later start times result in middle and high school students getting 8 hours or more sleep
    • Middle and high school students experienced less sleepiness from later starts
    • Middle and high school students experienced improved grades and GPA’s
    • Most elementary school studies found improvements from earlier starts
    • Middle and high school test scores improved
    • Graduation and attendance rates improved—tardiness is reduced


    What are some of the student wellness benefits experienced elsewhere?

    • Middle and high school students have experienced health benefits including:
      • Less depression
      • Fewer visits to clinics because of fatigue
      • Less caffeine, tobacco, and junk food use
      • Fewer car accidents
      • Fewer negative behaviors
    • The academic environment in numerous sites that have moved to later middle and high school start times have significantly improved.



    Why doesn't ASD start all schools at the same time?

    ASD uses a three-tiered school start and end schedule so that we may use buses and drivers for multiple routes. This saves the District millions of dollars and is the typical practice throughout the U.S. Starting all the schools at the same time would require us to purchase dozens of buses and hire additional drivers.


    When would adjusted start times take effect if the Anchorage School Board decides a change is warranted?

    • Anchorage School Board decision in 2018
    • Implementation will begin with the 2019-20 school year