Too many schools start classes too early, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention asserts.
The CDC's Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report says that in 2011-12, fewer than one in five middle and high schools in the United States began the school day at the recommended 8:30 a.m. start time or later.
The American Academy of Pediatrics says that starting classes too early may keep some students from getting the sleep they need for health, safety, and academic success.
CDC and U.S. Department of Education researchers reviewed data from nearly 40,000 public middle, high, and combined schools to determine school start times. Schools that start at 8:30 a.m. or later enable adolescent students to get the recommended amount of sleep on school nights: 8.5 to 9.5 hours.
“Getting enough sleep is important for students’ health, safety, and academic performance,” said Anne Wheaton, lead author and epidemiologist in CDC’s Division of Population Health. “Early school start times, however, are preventing many adolescents from getting the sleep they need.”
The researchers found that in 42 states, 75 to 100 percent of public schools started before 8:30 a.m. The average start time was 8:03 a.m.
In Hawaii, Mississippi, and Wyoming no schools started at 8:30 AM or later; in Alaska and North Dakota more than 75 percent of schools started at 8:30 a.m. or later. Louisiana had the earliest average school start time (7:40 a.m.), and Alaska had the latest (8:33 a.m.).