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.

     

     

Next Steps: September-October

  • 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.

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

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
  • 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