High School Start Times

LFDA Editor

In Brief: 

  • The American Academy of Pediatrics issued recommendations in 2014 urging middle and high schools to delay start times till 8:30 a.m. or later to allow students to get more sleep.
  • Several cities and towns in New Hampshire have considered pushing back their school start times, but only Windham has acted on the issue.
  • Pro: Later start times would let adolescents get much-needed sleep, leading to better grades, test scores, and overall quality of life.
  • Con: Late start times cut into extracurricular activities and other responsibilities such as part-time jobs, while an early start helps prepare students for the requirements of adult life. 

Issue Facts: 

The American Academy of Pediatrics released a statement in 2014 recommending middle/high schools delay start times until 8:30am or later. 

"The research is clear that adolescents who get enough sleep have a reduced risk of being overweight or suffering depression, are less likely to be involved in automobile accidents, and have better grades, higher standardized test scores and an overall better quality of life,” said pediatrician Judith Owens, MD, FAAP, lead author of the policy statement, “School Start Times for Adolescents,” published in the September 2014 issue of Pediatrics.  “Studies have shown that delaying early school start times is one key factor that can help adolescents get the sleep they need to grow and learn.”

The AAP cites a National Sleep Foundation poll where 59-percent of 6th through 8th graders and 87-percent of high school students in the U.S. reported getting less than the recommended 8.5 to 9.5 hours of sleep on school nights. 

Several cities and towns (Dover, Keene, Plaistow, Portsmouth, and Rochester) have considered later starts but Windham is the only municipality to make a change based on sleep concerns. Back in 2010, Windham agreed to push back the start time for high schoolers 24 minutes -- from 7:28 a.m. to 7:52 a.m. 

However, later start times have downsides.  A later school start may cut into the afternoon responsibilities of students, such as part-time jobs or babysitting younger siblings.  Start times also impact after school extra-curricular activities, such as sports. 

Anthony Pastelis, a member of the Rochester School Board, has also argued that early high school start times better train students for adult life.

Should NH high schools start later in the morning?


gordona's picture
Gordon Avery
- Salinas

Sat, 08/08/2015 - 11:49am

Schools are supposed to prepare young people for the working world. Most jobs begin around 700am. They, as an employee, will not be mollycoddled, they will not be able to offer excuses as to why they are late because, after all, in school starting time was always much later. The questions in this piece answer the question without our import, parents, jobs, older kids babysitting the younger because the parents are off to work, etc. no this would work against them. Starting the school day early is simply preparing them for their employment, it is just as important as their other lessons.


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Issue Status

In November 2016, Oyster River Cooperative School District approved setting back start times for its middle and high schools by 45 minutes, from 7:35 am to 8:15 am. The Portsmouth School District approved a similar move in a vote later that month. 


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