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Later Daily Start Time for Albany High Proposed

Albany High School is seriously considering a later daily start time, changing from the current 7:40 a.m. to 8:30 a.m. Principal Ted Barone says studies indicate a later start time could give teens more sleep and improved academic performance.

A proposal to change the daily start time at Albany High School – from the current 7:40 a.m. to 8:30 a.m. – appears to have significant momentum as the school seeks public input on whether to adopt the idea.

In a notice posted on the school's website, Principal Ted Barone cited numerous studies showing that teens perform better with at least nine hours of sleep on average and that their natural sleep rhythms make it easier for them to get the required sleep when school starts later.

"Data from a 6-year study of middle school students in North Carolina found a significant increase in standardized test scores that was correlated with a later start (Edwards, 2012)," Barone said. "Both math and reading scores increased 2 percentile points and the effect was even greater for lower performing students. ...

"An oft-cited study of 7 Minneapolis high schools that changed their start times from 7:15 to 8:40 found similar results (Kirby et al., 2011). Interestingly they found that students used the extra time in the morning for actual sleep, attendance rates went up and there was a reduction in disciplinary problems."

The proposal developed through the Challenge Success committee last year, Barone said. The committee included parents, students, teachers, counselors, and school administrators.

The school's Instructional Improvement Council studied this issue this past fall and agreed at its December meeting "that the evidence supporting such a change was compelling enough to bring a proposal forth to the Albany High School community for public input," according to Barone's message.

The school is seeking public input "through the shared governance committees at AHS including the Site Council, Promoting Albany High Sports (PAHS), Department Chair Council, General Faculty Meeting, PTSA, and the Associated Student Body (ASB)," Barone said.

"In addition, we will schedule an evening forum on the topic in early February as an opportunity for more input," he said.

The Instructional Improvement Council will consider the feedback and make a recommendation.

"If the recommendation is to change the start time, the proposal will be forwarded to the Superintendent and the Board for their consideration," Barone said.

The regular start time at Berkeley High is 8:27a.m., except on Monday, when it's 9:57 a.m. El Cerrito High starts at 8:05 a.m.

Barone's message describes several of the studies and lists sources with additional information.

"The positive implications of a later school start time for Albany High School are well-supported in the research," he concluded. "They include positive impacts on academic achievement, attendance rates, student discipline, health, and safety. While there may be some negative consequences, particularly for scheduling extracurricular activities, most of the issues can be mitigated through careful planning and scheduling."

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You can also provide feedback on Albany Patch about the start time. Tell us in the comments.

Tiffany Lefour January 18, 2013 at 04:49 PM
It's about time! It's a well known fact the the body clock of a teen causes them to not be able to go to sleep before 10, 11:00 at night. It's also commonly known that that same body needs 9 hours of sleep to function properly. It's simple math that they therefore shouldn't be expected to perform well at 7:40 am. Also, who needs a bunch of teenagers roaming around as early as 12:40 a result of block scheduling. I think it works out best for students and parents to have more like a 10:00 - 3:00 schedule. Yes, maybe they won't be able to do two sports after school....
Holly McCroskey January 18, 2013 at 08:31 PM
We've been struggling to adapt to early start times ever since 4th grade (no more late bird schedule!), so I'm enthusiastically in favor of this. PLEASE make it effective before my now-middle schooler (whose current 8:00 a.m. start is brutal enough) gets to AHS!
Monique Macaulay January 18, 2013 at 09:08 PM
It's about time. Sadly this wont be implemented before my youngest son, now a senior, will have graduated. Now if we can only convince them to get rid of that stupid block schedule we'd be cooking with gas!
Kevin Goess January 18, 2013 at 11:03 PM
Who *ever* thought a 7:40 start time was a good idea? This is a no-brainer, why are we even talking about it? It should already be done.
Kirsten Schwartz January 18, 2013 at 11:05 PM
I agree: teens get important rest in the early morning. I raised two, and my son especially needed (and still does) early-morning sleep.
Rona January 18, 2013 at 11:28 PM
As an AHS alumni I agree. To this day I still have nightmares of that time..LOL..because I KNEW I functioned better later and was glad when my last two years worked out to come in later at "2nd" period. Yes I got out at 3:05pm but I saw a difference. I remember complaining but being told to shut up you don't know any better from family. So I stuck it out until I "worked" it out myself to come in later. Glad to know studies are not out and there are those out there that CARE for the young and how we can be our "best" in education:P
Winifred Owen January 18, 2013 at 11:45 PM
Hearty agreement here. One of my children had a very disappointing AHS experience, largely due to the early start times. Her "internal clock" just could not be regulated for that 7:25 a.m. start time (at age 44+ she's still not a morning person and always takes jobs where she starts no earlier than 9 a.m.), and consequently would be late or miss the first class, then figure "what's the use." Just an extra hour would have made all the difference in the world. Her kids are now AHS students - one (a junior) is up and at 'em early in the morning, the other (a soph) could benefit from a little extra time to get up and running. I hope they implement this for the very next school year!
Dawn January 19, 2013 at 12:48 AM
Heck, yeah!!!!!!!!
Lisa Schneider January 19, 2013 at 05:15 AM
Ditto to the max. What a difference this would have made to our family! Don't wait any longer.
Rich Holcomb January 19, 2013 at 05:30 AM
Many of the elementary schools in the Reno, Nev. area are now starting at 9 to 9:30am and it's working well. None of my family are morning people so this change to a later start would be a great help.
Jon Meyers January 19, 2013 at 04:07 PM
I whole-heartedly agree with the shift. How much is a high school student really going to learn between 7:40am and 8:30am? Not only would they hopefully get some more real sleep before going in, but maybe even have a few minutes to eat breakfast and get fueled up for the start of the day.
Jen Daly January 19, 2013 at 05:41 PM
Yes! The research is extremely clear on this. Anecdotally, I used to help out as a writer coach in 7:40 am English classes at AHS where many kids (kids I knew to be "good students") were literally asleep with their heads on the library tables at the start of class. Now I have a 9th grader, and I can see first hand the start time is too early for teens. Change it!
Janis January 19, 2013 at 08:21 PM
I graduated over 50 yrs ago from Albany High School and our school time was from 8:25 am to 2:50pm with an hour for lunch and it was not good for me as I am not a morning person yet it was better than what the students deal with now. I am sorry that the students of today have to deal with the enforcement of what a small group of researchers think is right. As far as this schedule blocking I am not familiar with that at all. It seems to me that if we want our kids to have good educations we need to start listening to them and setting schedules and classes that will give them the a reason to want to get an education instead of having to get an education. Thanks for the place to give feedback.
Lerryn Little January 21, 2013 at 04:36 PM
I am so happy to hear that the powers that be are considering this. The topic of teen's circadian rhythms working against the current time structure have been known for a few years and it often takes too long for such information to translate into action. Not only do we not want our teens overly fatigued during the school day, but also having them suffer through a day and then have an early dismissal time doesn't make much sense either. As a parent of an 8th grader, I am looking forward to the opportunity to support this proposal wholeheartedly.
Zhen January 31, 2013 at 04:49 AM
Does anyone know what the proposed time for school dismissal is? Will the later daily start just delay the regular schedule, or reduce school instructional hours? -Concerned Mom
Rick Bloemhard February 05, 2013 at 09:24 PM
Rick The AHS sales panel presentation was impressive & well rehearsed. Favorable studies & benefits from reduced stress, mental health and disciplinary problems to the lowering of teenage automobile accident rates were touted. However if you READ the studies (links in AHS newsletter), and not just the highlighted excerpts, the conclusions are not definitive. One extensive & widely cited study (Minnesota) found insignificant effect on student achievement & ACT scores. Yet it was quoted favorably. It is easy to equate sleep deprivation with early start times. We should instead promote healthy sleep discipline skills that last a lifetime. My teens go to bed @ 9:30 pm, get 9 hours of sleep, have very good grades and round out their lives (& college applications) with outside activities they enjoy. Changing to a later than 3:30 pm end time will end an 8 year program of ballet study. Up to 50% of students have after school activities - not the 20 students the panel claims would be affected. Unilateral change without coordination with outside activity providers will negatively impact many. Albany's small size luckily means short travel times for our students. Albany students' generally high performance and achievement in regional academic contests, college admissions, & the low number of disciplinary problems, etc. all point to how well the current system works. Please do not hastily roll the dice on an unsupported experiment to break something that works well.
Reuel Schiller February 06, 2013 at 04:35 AM
As the District Wellness Committee member on the panel and a strong supporter of later school start times I’d like to respond to Rick Bloemhard’s thoughtful comment. Like Rick, I would encourage all Albany parents to read the materials on school start times that are linked to at the AHS website: http://web.ahs510.org/news/administrative-news/laterstartproposal%E2%80%93background. I think the evidence presented in these articles about the beneficial effects of later school start times is pretty definitive. This is particularly true with respect to the positive effects on physical and mental health, which was the focus of both the Stanford University/Challenge Success study of AHS and the Wellness Committee. The academic effects have been less thoroughly studied, though the ACT study that Rick refers to has been critiqued as understating the effect of later start times on academic performance by focusing on a overly narrow band of students, and for using data from a study that wasn't designed to measure the relationship between academic achievement and start times. The North Carolina study and the Air Force Academy study (the website has a link to it) use control groups and both show a more robust connection between later start times and improved academic performance. (continued below)
Reuel Schiller February 06, 2013 at 04:37 AM
(continued from above) Like Rick, I also think it is very important to promote healthy sleep skills. However, I strongly disagree with his implication that simply teaching our children such skills is enough to ensure that they get enough sleep. In this case the science is definitive. Study after study has demonstrated that circadian rhythms shift later in adolescents as a result of when their bodies release melatonin. Obviously, there are variations in how any given child is affected, but on average, teenage bodies are designed to go to sleep later and to get up later. Finally, I need to correct a factual error in Rick’s comment. The panel did not claim that only twenty students would be negatively impacted if school ended later. If such were the case, it would be hard to imagine that changing start times would be particularly controversial. Principal Barone said that after talking with AHS’s Director of Athletics, he believed that only 20 AHS athletes would be exceptionally impacted by the change. I’m not exactly sure what Principal Barone meant by this, though he may have referring to the number of students who would have to miss a significant amount of instructional minutes because of away games. I am glad that our community is discussing this important issue, and I’m confident that the District can come up with a bell schedule that will accommodate the interests of all the students at Albany High.
Rick Bloemhard February 06, 2013 at 09:17 PM
Is teenage Circadian Rhythm Phase Delay real? Just because you give something a scientific sounding name doesn't make it true. Carskadon looked at saliva samples of 19 (!) students to ‘prove’ melatonin secretion timing changed as students matured. ------------------- "(She found) melatonin production turned off later… PRESUMABLY indicating a delay in circadian phase and, therefore, a later timing of sleepiness and wakefulness. The EASIEST explanation for this phase delay is that the circadian rhythm of adolescents has a slightly longer period—that is, a longer internal day length. However, this HYPOTHESIS has yet to be PROVED, partly because it is DIFFICULT to obtain an accurate measurement of circadian period in humans. Because the circadian clock is reset (entrained) by external cues, such as light, techniques for determining a circadian period typically require complete isolation from the outside world for a month or longer. Not many teenagers (or their parents) would agree to that!" -------------------- All human (yes, beastly teenagers too) circadian rhythms are set by the sun. Following natural healthy rhythms means sleeping soon after the sun sets and waking soon after it rises – just as we did before TV, XBOX, fb, etc. Teenagers need rules – we need to set them. Sleep deprivation is the problem. Shifting the same deprivation to later in the day is not a solution. And it will cause big trouble as our students eventually must enter the work force!
Rick Bloemhard February 06, 2013 at 09:24 PM
Based on 2-3 months of observation, some of the studies posit that (self-reported) benefits persist over time. I claim you would need to follow the benefits for much longer than that to prove anything. Temporary improvement would quickly erode via the above mentioned temptations.
Rick Bloemhard February 06, 2013 at 09:33 PM
Based on several anecdotal sources most teachers and students are against this change. Perhaps a natural inertia against change, but it certainly needs to be considered.
Mary Flaherty February 07, 2013 at 01:41 AM
Instructional hours would not be reduced; the students would get out of school later. Because there are three different proposals, I want to refer you to the website for details: http://web.ahs510.org/news/administrative-news/laterstartproposal%E2%80%93background. From there, click on the first attachment: "Alternative Late Start Bell Schedules.docx" In short, the students would get out around 4 p.m. three days a week and around 3 p.m. two days a week, under one proposal. Under another proposal, which eliminates a morning break, they would get out around 3:50 three days a week and at 2:55 two days a week.
Barry Kamil February 07, 2013 at 05:34 AM
We were told by Dr. Barone that two thirds of the teachers are for the later start time, so it is important to accept the facts. The rest, as I recall, were concerned about after-school activities, which can mostly be remedied by altering the schedules of these activities. As a clinical psychologist, I am familiar with much of the sleep research, which the presentation Monday night presented convincingly. In my field, it is recognized that it is very important to design behavioral plans, treatments and recommendations that are evidence-based, not based on personal bias. The evidence presented to us was overwhelmingly convincing. Just seeing the high percentage of car-related deaths due to sleep defivcits in students should alert us to the importance of the research findings. I find the evidence fully documented and convincing that we serve the interests of our childrens' health and well-being best by moving to an 8:30 am start time. Our Albany High student can'twait for this to happen.
Rick Bloemhard February 07, 2013 at 05:53 AM
It's a conjecture, not a well known fact. Maybe our family is weird, but our two teenagers go to bed by 9:00 ~ 9:30 pm get 9 hours of sleep and they both get good grades. If a student doesn't get enough sleep now, moving the problem to later in the day isn't going to improve things except perhaps on a temporary basis. Once you start getting up later it takes a while to also start staying up later (think jetlag or daylight savings lag).
Rick Bloemhard February 07, 2013 at 06:04 AM
Hi Kirsten: You must know how such a change would affect the BBT'ers from Albany. Getting out at 4:00 or even 3:45 means no more 4:00 ballet classes. Could we convince BBT to also change their schedule? Most BBT students are not from Albany so it would be pretty hard. And that is only one of the many after school activities that would be impacted.
Rick Bloemhard February 07, 2013 at 07:13 AM
To be accurate, Dr. Barone said, "60 to 40 are in favor". I believe he also said an actual survey had not been conducted. Sixty percent is not what I hear through the grapevine. We should get real numbers. Last night we did hear the student leadership representative state their strong opposition. Maybe because I work in the physical sciences, where we always look for hard clear evidence and carefully scrutinize new ideas, I remain skeptical and not convinced by the presentation. I do enjoy frank and open discussion, but off the cuff scary remarks about car accidents (tragic as they are) seem like just another sales tool. I read one study of college students that 'proved' later start times resulted in more drinking and poorer academic performance ( btw, I don't believe that one either, you can Google any opinion you care to find). Because this issue impinges on core personal, family and social values we will see strongly felt, differing and perhaps even emotional responses. I hope they are all fully considered before a decision is made. I hope that if there is a stalemate that things are left well enough as they are.

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