Grades Go Up When School Starts an Hour Later

By Megan Trent

April 14, 2011 Updated Apr 14, 2011 at 4:57 PM EST

INDIANA (Indiana's NewsCenter) - Could sleeping in improve a student's performance in the classroom?

National studies show the average teen sleeps between five and six hours each night, even though doctors recommend a minimum of eight hours of sleep for developing teenagers.

Some Hoosier schools are taking steps to keep their students well rested and in peak academic condition by pushing back the start of high school classes by one hour.

Bill Stancykiewicz is the President and CEO of the Indiana Youth Institute. He says the results in schools starting later were clear.

"They saw attendance go up. They saw the grades improve. Also - and this wasn't part of the original plan - teenagers started having fewer car accidents. Accidents are the number one cause of death for teenagers. Most of those accidents happen in cars, and when teens get more sleep they have fewer accidents."

Experts say most of the time such changes don't significantly affect schools financially, but educators may need to alter scheduling for transportation and after school activities.

Stancykiewicz says, "In many districts, the buses that are used for the high school students are also used for the elementary and/or the middle school students. So, bus routes need to be taken into account. And of course the after school activities - sports, music, other extra curriculars - need to be figured in as well. But more and more school districts are taking a look at this, and the ones that do more often than not are moving back the start of the high school day."

Opponents fear teens would stay up later at night . They also say starting school later would be a challenge for some working parents.

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