Traditionally, the morning bell rings early at brick-and-mortar schools. This is especially true for high school as most students sit in their first-period class by 7:30 a.m. While some students may have the “morning person gene” and are ready to learn, others struggle to stay awake that first hour of class.
Survey evidence shows more than a quarter of high school students report falling asleep in class at least once per week (National Sleep Foundation 2006).
It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to realize if a student is intently focused on trying to keep themself awake, they are not paying full attention to the lesson being taught and not performing at the highest level.
According to the article “A’s from Zzzz’s? The Casual Effect of School Start Time on The Academic Achievement of Adolescents” in the American Economic Journal, “Sleep research finds that many adolescents are sleep-deprived because of both early school start times and changing sleep patterns during the teen years.” Their study focused on understanding how adolescent sleep preferences shift due to changing biological rhythms, how sleep deprivation from early start times affects the learning process, and how later school start times affect sleep patterns. They concluded that starting the school day just 50 minutes later had a significant and positive effect on student achievement.
While adapting later school start times may sound like it’s a simple change that can be made, there are complications to factor in. Busing schedules, team sports, parent schedules all have substantial implications for education policy.
Let students start when they’re ready
What if you removed the confines of a “start” time and let students decide when they are ready to begin their school day?
Online schools such as ASU Prep Digital and the Khan World School @ ASU Prep provide flexibility for K-12 students. With the core belief that all students can succeed, their unique teaching models allow students to work at their own pace—anytime, anywhere, using adaptive technologies to receive personalized instruction and coaching.
Sleep plays an important role in learning and memory, and studies have shown there are two main sleep factors that affect mental performance. One is the duration/number of hours of sleep. The second is related to the time of day one is expected to function. For adolescents, alertness begins in the late morning, drops off mid-afternoon, and peaks again in the early evening.
Online schools provide schedule flexibility, allowing students to start when they’re ready and most alert, increasing student performance and achievement.
If you’re interested in learning more about the research study cited, check out:
- Carrell, Scott E., Teny Maghakian, and James E. West. 2011. “A’s from Zzzz’s? The Causal Effect of School Start Time on the Academic Achievement of Adolescents” American Economic Journal: Economic Policy
ASU Prep Digital was ranked as the #1 online school in Arizona in the latest Niche.com report. They offer full-time online school options for students in grades K–12. Full-time Arizona students attend this public charter school tuition free and can earn Arizona State University credit while in high school.
Khan World School @ ASU Prep is a unique online school model where curious, high-achieving students complete self-paced course work and participate in daily seminar discussions to solve real-world problems.