RELEASE: New CAP Analysis Shows Later School Start Times Could Boost Student Outcomes By Almost a Grade Level

Washington, D.C. — Delaying school start times could potentially boost student outcomes by almost a year, a new column from the Center for American Progress argues. In its new analysis, CAP examined the effect on student learning from shifting school start times to later in the day and sought to quantify what gains would be made on the National Assessment of Educational Progress, or NAEP, if all public middle schools delayed their start times by an hour, finding that national NAEP math scale scores for eighth-grade students would go up as much as eight points if every school had a one-hour later start time.

“Any parent who has struggled to get their teenage son or daughter out of bed and to school on time knows that early-morning school start times are a challenge,” said Ulrich Boser, Senior Fellow at CAP and co-author of the analysis. “This analysis documents for the first time the achievement gains nationwide that could come from starting school later.”

In order to see what an hour-long schedule shift might mean for student achievement on a national scale, the authors of the CAP analysis expanded on existing research that showed that if a middle school in Wake County, North Carolina, pushed its start time back an hour, the school would see a 2 percentile growth in math scores. An eight-point increase in NAEP scores is a gain nearly equivalent to a full grade-level increase, which is typically 10 points.

“Shifting school schedules to later in the day could result in meaningful student achievement gains and would certainly be a win for working parents, who often struggle with school hours that are completely misaligned to typical work schedules,” said Catherine Brown, Vice President of Education Policy at CAP and co-author of the analysis.

In October 2016, CAP released a report, “Workin’ 9 to 5,” that showed that misaligned school and work schedules mean that the average school is closed for 29 days during the school year, and the need for parents to scramble constantly for child care arrangements is costing working families and the U.S. economy as a whole. Early school start times, and thus early school closing times—a 3:00 p.m. closing time is a long-standing tradition—means that most schools close two hours or more before the end of the typical workday.

In that report, CAP recommended creating a new model of choice, “9-to-5 schools,” which could be supported by a new competitive grant program. CAP also recommended that states rethink their requirements on instructional time, including by increasing the minimum number of hours that students are required to be in school, and also urged districts to negotiate more efficient bus schedules that align with a 9-to-5 school day.

Click here to read “Later School Start Times Could Boost Student Outcomes” by Ulrich Boser, Catherine Brown, and Perpetual Baffour.

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