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NJ State Study Recommends Later School Start Time

While middle and high school students would benefit, most local schools aren't on board.


Photo Credit: iStock.com / fstop123

A new report from the New Jersey State Department of Education says that later start time for middle and high schools across NJ could help students get more sleep and positively impact their grades But the state-appointed study group (that was ordered in 2015) acknowledges that a massive shift like this could have major repercussions and recommends that the change it be left up to each school district.

National health organizations, like the Academy of Sleep Medicine (AASM), have also recently highly recommended earlier start times, especially for tweens and teens.

According to the April 2017 report from the state, not getting enough sleep puts teens at a higher risk for things like alcohol and drug use, obesity, depression and general risk-taking behaviors.

Conversely, the same study attributes later starting times with a ton of benefits, like increased engagement in class, fewer tardies and absences, a lower chance of depression and improved reaction time.

The ideal start time to start school is at 8:30 am or later. Currently, a large majority of NJ schools (86 percent) start the day at 8:30 am or earlier.

That said, the group agreed that later start times are better for adolescents’ overall health and performance, however, given the logistical issues involving time for afterschool sports, childcare, transportation, it may be difficult to implement this change. In their report they say: "Given the myriad of characteristics, factors, and variables that distinguish school districts and schools from one another, communities should not be confronted with a 'one size fits all' school start time mandate."

What do you think? Do you wish your school district would change to a later start time?

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