Solebury School Sees Positive Change from Later Start Times

We tried it. It works.

 

For more than a year now, students at Solebury School have started class later in the morning. Since Fall 2016, classes begin on Wednesdays at 9:00am; the rest of the week, classes begin at 8:30am. This change has generated several hours of extra sleep weekly for students, which has inspired several noticeable positive changes.

Director of Studies Rick Tony spoke with Business Insider about the visible improvements among students and parents:

Now a year into the policy, Tony said, students are less stressed and performing just as well if not better in their classes. A survey he issued schoolwide showed students and teachers are widely in favor of the policy. He's gotten similar feedback from parents saying an 8:30 start time makes for a less hectic morning. "It's a no-brainer," Tony told Business Insider of renewing the policy for this coming academic year. "We would do it again in a heartbeat."

Though improvement in student performance and well-being are important progress indicators for the policy, the School's schedule ensures that later dismissals haven’t kept students from having enough time to study and complete their homework:

Once they finally get home, many say they have less time for all the homework they've been assigned. Solebury has overcome this challenge by coupling a delayed start time with fewer classes during the day. Instead of taking six 50-minute classes, students take four 80-minute classes. They end at the same time but get more done and have less homework.

The Solebury faculty and administration is thrilled with the improvement, and is looking to continue this progress with further schedule enhancements. This means consideration for even later class starts, which science and student experience have supported:

For all the good it does, Solebury isn't satisfied with its 8:30 a.m. start time, Tony said. Administrators are still looking into whether the 9:00 a.m. Wednesday start time would be feasible the other four days of the week. Tony recalled asking a visiting psychologist whether the extra half hour would even make a difference anyway.

"She said anything you can do is going to be a big gain," he said.
 

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