Update: October 2018

  • Conclusion: ASD School Start Time Study 

    Beginning in 2016-17, the School Board charged the Superintendent to study school start time. In early fall of 2017, Matthew Park, a West High School student began an online student petition through change.org, titled “Push start times in ASD high schools to 8:30 a.m.” To date, the petition has gathered 5,439 signatures. In the appeal for signatures, Matthew wrote, “As the next school year approaches, the daunting idea of yet another year of heavy workloads and lack of sleep crosses the minds of thousands of high school students around Anchorage. With the first classes of the day starting at 7:30 a.m., students are exhausted, unfocused, and held back from performing to the best of their academic abilities.”

     

    On the heels of the student petition, the school start time issue became an initiative for the School Board.  A Board directive asked ASD Administration to undertake this study to obtain feedback and provide potential start time scenarios through public input. Using unspent funds from a business process review, the District hired Western Demographics to conduct the School Start Time Change Study.

     

    To inform the community and gather feedback, in March and April of last school year, ASD held eight focus groups and open house events. Additionally, ASD met with private and community childcare agencies, before- and after-school partners, Anchorage Police Department, Municipality planning departments, transportation experts, school business partners, and social service partner agencies. Based on all the feedback, at the May 7 School Board meeting, the two most popular, revised scenarios were presented by Western Demographics.

     

    At the June 4 School Board meeting, a new recommendation was made by the School Board proposing yet another scenario. This fall, the District held listening sessions to engage the public for feedback on this new scenario. ASD held open house presentations at three different areas of the community (one at an elementary school, the second at a middle school, and the third at a high school). At those events, District administrative staff and Mr. Bingham answered questions and received comments from students, parents, and staff. The School Board also received direct feedback through compiled email comments.

     

    Following this very public yearlong process a recommendation was provided by the Superintendent based on public input gathered. On October 8th, after much consideration, Board members voted not to change school start times.

     

    For more information, view ASD Memorandum #038 - School Start Times.

ASD Explores Potential Changes to School Start Times

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    More details about the student petition and community engagement:

     

    Gathered to date have been 5,439 signatures. In the appeal for signatures, Matthew wrote, “As the next school year approaches, the daunting idea of yet another year of heavy workloads and lack of sleep crosses the minds of thousands of high school students around Anchorage. With the first classes of the day starting at 7:30 a.m., students are exhausted, unfocused, and held back from performing to the best of their academic abilities.”

     

    On the heels of the student petition, again, the school start time issue was an initiative on the School Board goals directing the Administration to undertake this study to obtain feedback and provide potential scenarios. Using unspent funds from a business process review, the District hired Western Demographics to conduct the School Start Time Change Study.

     

    To inform the community and gather feedback, in March and April of last school year, ASD held eight focus groups and open house events. Additionally, ASD met with private and community childcare agencies, before- and after-school partners, Anchorage Police Department, Municipality planning departments, transportation experts, school business partners, and social service partner agencies. Based on all the feedback, at the May 7 School Board meeting, the two most popular, revised scenarios were presented by Western Demographics.

     

    At the June 4 School Board meeting, a new recommendation was made by the School Board proposing yet another scenario. This fall, the District held listening sessions to engage the public for feedback on this new scenario. ASD held open house presentations at three different areas of the community (one at an elementary school, the second at a middle school, and the third at a high school). At those events, District administrative staff and Mr. Bingham answered questions and received comments from students, parents, and staff. The School Board also received direct feedback through compiled email comments.

     

    Following this very public yearlong process, at the October 8 School Board Meeting, the School Board voted not to change school start times.

     

     

Resources

  • 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: September-October 2018

  • School start times is an action item on the Monday, October 8 school board meeting agenda.

     

    The final recommended scenario represents the best compromise between the need to address the sleep needs of students and the desire to avoid significant disruption in current family schedules. The scenario reflects the input of parents collected during dozens of community meetings and significant discussion and analysis by the school board.

     

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

Recommended Changes

Current Schedule

Pros and Cons of Recommended Schedule

  • Pros

    • 30 minute later start for high school students—complies with research on adolescent sleep needs
    • 75 minute later start for middle school students—complies with research on adolescent sleep needs
    • 15 minute earlier start for elementary school students—moves elementary start earlier and partially addresses “afternoon burnout”

    Cons

    • 30-minute reduction in potential high school student employment hours
    • High school start time is 30 minutes earlier than research-driven preferred start time of 8:30
    • Middle school start time is later in the morning and may require scheduling activities to address morning idle time

FAQs

  • Why is ASD considering a change?

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

  • What are outcomes of later school start times?

  • What are some of the student wellness benefits experienced elsewhere?

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

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

Next Steps: May 2018

  • 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.

     

    Coming:

    • 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