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Researchers study high school start time
GLEN FALLS -- One North Country school district is about to finish its first year with a later start time. All the while, researchers from St. Lawrence University collected data from students and teachers seeing if the later start helps or hurts kids in the classroom.
The old start time was 7:45 a.m. Now, it's 8:30 a.m. The change created some controversy in the community when the school board voted it through. The concern was that kids would be up later at night, or miss work or extra-curriculars after school.
Kids on average are getting about twenty extra minutes of sleep with a later school day start.
"I've seen it myself, kids showing up and not missing those early classes," said social studies teacher Jeff Dock.
Researchers are sorting through the data with Glens Falls kids, doing it about forty-five minutes later in the day than they used to.
"You do have some staff and students that still come at 7:45 whether it's to have breakfast in the cafeteria or meet with a teacher," said Elizabeth Collins, high school assistant principal.
Teachers say particularly in the early periods classroom discussion is less groggy.
"Students are much more alert in their first period class and they're more engaged in the topic," Collins said.
But time is not on everyone's side.
"The school is here, and moves three steps this way," said Dr. Pamela Thacher. "The whole community has to move three steps that way."
The fall months challenge athletics, as Mr. Dock said in his interview with the researcher. "In years past, we'd be able to get outside and do about an hour and a half before it got dark," Dock said to Dr. Thacher. "This year we started practice and it was just about dark."
Grades aren't expected to improve, at least right away. Some of that is up to the student, and has just as much to do with their socio-economic background and how many activities they juggle -- as the amount of sleep they get.
"When you start getting more sleep you see changes even faster than a year," Thacher said. "But fort the picture we're looking at the big picture, disciplinary issues, yeah that might take a year or two."
There are less disciplinary issues now. The overall mood of students who participated in the survey was better. They noted feeling less stressed or depressed. Health is just as important a factor as performance.