School Start Time Change: An In-Depth Examination of School Districts in the United States

  • Owens J
  • Drobnich D
  • Baylor A
 et al. 
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In response to the scientific evidence documenting both profound developmental changes in sleep and circadian biology during adolescence and the myriad of negative health, performance, and safety outcomes risks associated with chronic sleep loss, at least 70 public school districts in the United States, representing approximately 1,000 schools, have successfully implemented a delay in high school start times. However, despite the compelling evidence supporting school start time change as a key strategy in addressing the epidemic of adolescent sleep loss, many school districts across the country with early high school start times have not considered the option to implement later bell schedules for adolescents. Moreover, while the current scientific literature has clearly documented the positive "outcomes" associated with delayed high school start times, these studies contain limited information regarding the "process" by which school districts consider, approve and implement bell schedule changes. Thus, this in-depth examination of those school districts that have been successful in changing their bell schedules is intended to support the efforts of other districts in various stages of contemplating this measure. We utilized a multi-pronged approach (literature review, case studies, telephone interviews, online survey) to summarize the experiences of school districts across the United States in regard to challenges faced, strategies employed, and lessons learned in the hope that this information will be a useful tool for other school districts looking to chart a course forward to promote the health, safety, and academic opportunities of their students.

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  • Judith Owens

  • Darrel Drobnich

  • Allison Baylor

  • Daniel Lewin

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