HomeNewsParent Poll Shows Split Opinions on Later School Start Times

Parent Poll Shows Split Opinions on Later School Start Times

Many teenagers would likely be in favor of starting school later in the morning, and according to the C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital National Poll on Children’s Health so would 51 percent of parents surveyed. But that also means half are not in favor.

The poll was conducted in response to a recommendation from the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) that middle and high schools push their morning start times to 8:30 a.m. or later.  The national survey used responses from a sample size of 636 parents of children ages 13-17. The respondents are a part of GfK’s KnowledgePanel.  Poll administrators gathered the information through “a method used in many published studies.”

The majority of respondents (88 percent) noted that the schools their children attended have a start time before 8:30 a.m.

matthew davisDr. Matthew Davis
Photo: University of Michigan
“Teenagers are chronically sleep-deprived and that can negatively impact their health and well-being. We know teens are biologically wired to have later sleep cycles, which has raised the question of whether school start times that align to adolescents’ natural sleep rhythms could help improve health outcomes,” said Dr. Matthew M. Davis, director of the National Poll on Children’s Health and professor of pediatrics and internal medicine in the Child Health Evaluation and Research Unit at the University of Michigan Medical School.

Of those parents who would support later start times, 27 percent of those said they would only if it did not affect the school’s budget, while the remaining 24 percent indicated they would support a later start time regardless.

About 40 percent of parents surveyed said later start times would allow their teens to get more sleep, while 22 percent said they believed later start times would positively affect academic performance.

Other parents expressed concerns about potential impacts of delaying school in the morning. Twenty-two percent said later starts may not leave enough time for after school activities, and about 14 percent said it might negatively affect transportation.

“The idea to delay school start times is still fairly new, and our poll shows that parents seem conflicted about whether or not it’s the right move,” said Davis.

According to the AAP, teens should get anywhere between 8.5 and 9.5 hours of sleep every night.

How might later start times affect transportation operations? Email us or comment below. 

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