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If starting class later in the day helps kids learn, why do so few schools do it?
Recent research suggests that high school should start as late as 10 or 11 a.m., but is it realistic for adolescents to be in school that late? - photo by Matthew Williams
The CDC is urging U.S. high schools and middle schools to start class at 8:30 a.m. or later, but found that only 1 in 5 of these schools start first period that late.

This comes a year after the American Academy of Pediatrics released a study suggesting later start times.

A recent publication written by a group of scientists suggest that 16-year-olds with a biological wake time of 8 a.m. should start school between 10 and 10:30 a.m. to be their most successful. It also says for 18-year-olds the biological wake up time is an hour later, and they should start school between 11 and 11:30 a.m.

But an article from Education Week asks whether starting school as late as 10 or 11 a.m. is realistic.

Schools face many challenges when implementing later school start times that may prevent them from doing so, according to Education Week.

One major challenge is the impact such a change would have on the daily routines of parents and school faculty and staff.

If teens started school at 10 a.m., when would they get out of school? And how would that affect after-school jobs, athletics, and responsibilities to look after younger siblings? asks Education Week.

A national poll by C.S. Mott Children's Hospital in February revealed that only 1 in 5 parents believe a later start time would improve their teen's academic performance, and 1 in 5 believe the change would no longer allow time for after-school activities.

The poll also found that only 20 percent of parents had heard about the AAP's reccomendation that classes should start no earlier than 8:30 a.m. After they were made aware, 71 percent of parents agreed with the the AAP guidelines.

The other major problem with starting school later is the cost it would take to change the time.

It's expensive to change bus routes, teacher contracts, and the way school facilities are used, Education Week continues.

They estimated that Fairfax County district in Virginia would have to spend $5 million to adjust the times of high school and middle school.

"A lot of these fears and speculations turn out to be red herrings," Terra Ziporyn Snider, executive director of the advocacy group Start School Later, told The Atlantic. "The real obstacles are failure of imagination."

Chicago Public Schools decided to change start times for 60 high schools this year, and the effort will save money, reports the Chicago Sun-Times.

"The district says that changing the bells will save more than $9 million by consolidating the number of buses and drivers schoolchildren will need," Lauren Fitzpatrick reported for the Chicago Sun-Times.

But, regardless of the money, the real issue is helping children learn.

"Its becoming increasingly embarrassing to say, 'If we start school later, what happens to my kids three-hour soccer practice?'" Snider told The Atlantic. "We have to convince school systems this has to happen for the health of kids. Its not a negotiable school budget itemits an absolute requirement."
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