RAND study touts economic benefit of later school start times
- A new study by RAND Corporation on the economic benefits of later school start times reveals that the U.S. economy would reap an $83 billion benefit within a decade if schools started at 8:30 a.m., EdSource reports.
- The economic estimates are based on several factors including projected higher academic performance of students, higher graduation rates and reduced car crash rates from accidents caused by teens likely to be sleep-deprived with earlier start schedules.
- Though initially school districts could suffer financially by having to change bus schedules and possibly adding lights for nighttime games, researchers feel that the financial benefits would outweigh costs by 2 to 1 within five years.
In the wake of a recent study on the economic effects of adult sleep deprivation, RAND researchers released an economic analysis of later start times in the U.S. The study does not include less quantifiable effects of teen sleep deprivation such as obesity, depression and suicidal thoughts, which could also benefit society economically as well as emotionally.
According to the National Sleep Foundation, adolescents need an average of 9 ¼ hours of sleep a night. Since most students have trouble getting to sleep before 11 p.m., they get far less than that when school starts before 8:30 a.m. and bus routes begin even earlier. This sleep deprivation can result in serious consequences such as “drowsy driving; emotional and behavioral problems such as irritability, depression, poor impulse control and violence; health complaints; tobacco and alcohol use; impaired cognitive function and decision-making; and lower overall performance in everything from academics to athletics.”
Despite what seems like overwhelming evidence for the benefits of later school start times, some parents remain skeptical, concerned over how this would affect their daily schedules. Schools also have concerns over logistical issues such as transportation, sports and other after-school activities. Other issues that affect teens, such as work obligations and volunteer work, also need to be considered. However, many many advocates for the late start concept say these issues can be addressed and emphasize that the benefits of the proposal far outweigh the complications.