Starting School Later Produces Better Learners

Hannah Duran by Elaina Troung

Chico Unified School District is working to improve the educational outcomes of students by making small, simple, but potentially powerful changes. One of these changes is having high schools start at 8:30 a.m. instead of the usual 7:45 a.m. The district’s reasoning is that well-rested students learn better.

Hannah Duran, a Pleasant Valley English teacher, believes that an 8:30 start time benefits

students because teenagers are naturally inclined to stay up at night and wake up later in the morning.

“Teenagers as a society, are just not in bed by nine o’clock; that is just not how high schoolers roll,” shares Duran, “[a later start time] helps her [students] academically because… they get more sleep, and function better in class.”

Sophia Silvestri and Friend by Elaina Truong

Sophomore Sophia Silvestri enjoys beginning high school later in the day because it gives her “more time to wake up in the morning” and excel educationally. 

“If I were to start school at the usual 7:45, I would be very out of it and unprepared for the day,” Silvestri reports. Additionally, starting school late allows her to “[do] homework at night… letting [her] succeed intellectually.”

Though many appreciate the delayed start to school, conflicts do arise regarding transportation.

Patsy Wilcox, a senior, describes how her “parents have to go to work at 7:30” which “forces [Wilcox] to be responsible and drop her brother off at school.”

Although this is an inconvenience to Wilcox, she still appreciates starting at 8:30 because she can “spend more time with her brother.”

Senior Patsy Wilcox by Elaina Truong

Despite how some may not support implementing changes in school start times because the potential benefits may not justify the inconvenience and discomfort of change, school districts including Chico Unified have continued to report the positive results from the change and resistance may fade away.