The Need for Schools to Start Later

Claire O’Donnell, Guest Writer

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                 Schools need to start later because teen’s growing bodies function better later in the day. According to the National Sleep Foundation, biological changes cause teens to have a “later sleep wake up clock”, meaning that when teens “wake up for school… (their body) says it is still the middle of the night” (Backgrounder). Wow! Since teens’ brains still think it is the middle of the night, it is unfair to ask them to focus in very rigorous classes early in the morning. Challenging classes need to be put in time frames where teens will learn and perform best, and when teens are taking multiple hard college level classes, practically all their classes are very difficult. Therefore, in order to perform well in school, schools should start later to allow the teen bodies to wake up naturally. This will also improve the mental health of students, as when students are more awake, they are generally less stressed and calmer, compared to when they are sleep deprived and thinking irrationally. Teens are more likely to perform better when they sleep longer. A study done by Education Next shows the dramatic increase on students’ individual test scores when they received tests later in the day, and how these scores have a great impact on their overall percentages (Do schools). Personally, I agree with this study 100%, as I individually tend to perform better on tests that I take later in the day. When students can fully wake up, it is generally easier to focus and perform well on important tests. These test scores will not only benefit students, but also teachers and the overall school system, as students will be performing better and passing more classes, increasing the graduation rates, improving student’s GPA’s, and improving teacher class averages. Improved test scores help to prove the idea that Teen’s have a biological clock that works differently, furthering the claim that teens function better later in the day. I can personally attest to this, as there was one day in the winter of last year, when I had two tests on the same day; a science test was at 8am, and an engineering test was at 1pm. I, being better at English and History than classes like biology and engineering, was dreading taking both tests. I studied the same amount for each, but I did significantly better on the engineering test. I was completely shocked, because even though I was terrible at biology, I was even worse at engineering. I figured out later that it was because I was too tired in the morning to focus very well on the biology test; it was too early, and I was too sleep deprived. However, when I took my afternoon test, I was energized from lunch and I could easily focus on the task in front of me. Therefore, I believe very strongly that teens do perform better later in the day, as it gives teens more time to wake up and focus, making it obvious that schools should cater to the functions of the teen brain and start later in the day.