Starting school no earlier than 8:30 a.m. could not only save the U.S. $9 billion every year, it might also lead to improved educational achievement and fewer traffic accidents among tired teenagers.
Those are a couple of conclusions from an extensive Rand Corporation study on delaying school start times.
The research suggests that a later school start time could result in economic increases in a relatively short period of time after the change with an $83 billion fiscal impact after a decade.
"The significant economic benefits from simply delaying school start times to 8.30 a.m. would be felt in a matter of years, making this a win-win, both in terms of benefiting the public health of adolescents and doing so in a cost-effective manner," study co-author Wendy Troxel said in a press release.
The argument against making a change in school start times,for example, includes a loss in money and increased costs of transportation changes, like rescheduling bus routes.
Researchers also said that they used a conservative approach and did not include other problems from too little sleep among children, including higher suicide rates, increased obesity and mental health issues, concluding that "the reported economic benefits from delaying school start times could be even higher across many U.S. states."
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also supports staring school later
"Not getting enough sleep is common among high school students and is associated with several health risks including being overweight, drinking alcohol, smoking tobacco, and using drugs, as well as poor academic performance, " according to the CDC.
And one of the reasons children don’t get enough sleep is early school start times, CDC officials said.
The American Academy of Pediatrics said that most teenagers start school too early and also recommends middle and high school students start school at 8:30 a.m. or later.