ASD Explores Potential Changes to 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. The School Board made a recommendation at their June 4 meeting.
Next Steps: September-October
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.
Open House Presentations
All Open House events are 6–7:30 p.m.
Thursday, September 13
Gruening Middle, 9601 Lee Street, Eagle River
Monday, September 17
Lake Otis Elementary, 3331 Lake Otis Pkwy.
Tuesday, September 18
South High, 13400 Elmore Road
Pros and Cons of Recommended Schedule
- 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”
- 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
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 experienced elsewhere?
- Later start times resulted in middle and high school students getting eight hours or more sleep
- Middle and high school students experienced less sleepiness from later starts
- Middle and high school students experienced improved grades and GPAs
- Middle and high school test scores improved
- Graduation and attendance rates improved while tardiness was reduced
What are outcomes of later school start times?
Many U.S. school districts that are implementing changes to later secondary and earlier elementary start times are reporting improved outcomes including:
- Better academic results
- Better attendance rates
- Higher graduation rates
- Reduced tardiness
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
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