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