How to boost the U.S. economy: Delay school start times

The science is clear about teenagers’ need for sleep, but U.S. schools aren’t learning their lesson.

Even though sleep experts are now urging middle schools an high schools to push back their start times to no earlier than 8:30 a.m., school districts are resistant partly because of higher costs from changing bus schedules and higher electricity expenses for keeping schools open later.

Aside from the health benefits of helping teens begin their school day more alert, later start times are likely to have a longer-term economic benefit, according to a new study from RAND Corporation researchers. The typical high school expects students to arrive by about 8 a.m., but pushing the start time back by 30 minutes would help student performance, lower dropout rates and lead to fewer crashes and accidents, they conclude.

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