Studies show dealying start times cuts absenteeism and boosts student achievement

PMG PHOTO: TERESA CARSON - The big yellow school bus will drop Centennial students at school a half-hour later starting in the fall of 2019. Centennial School District students will get to sleep in a little later next year.

The Centennial School Board approved pushing school start times 30 minutes later for all students starting the next school year.

"I think it is in the best interests of students," said Centennial Superintendent Paul Coakley, after the unanimous vote at the board's Wednesday, March 6, meeting.

Centennial High School students now start at 7:40 a.m., but beginning in the fall of 2019, they won't have to be in their desks until 8:10 a.m. Middle school students now start at 9 a.m. Elementary schools have different start times, but some start at 7:50 a.m. and are finished for the day at 1:57 p.m. Those students won't be required to be in class until 8:20 a.m. starting this fall.

As a comparison, Gresham High School starts at 7:35 a.m. and Troutdale Elementary School begins at 7:40 a.m.

Centennial has examined this issue for two years, Coakley noted.

During the 2017-18 school year, a Student Advisory Team comprising 35 students from grades seven through 12 participated in a problem-solving project looking at attendance statistics.

"They asked why is our attendance below the state average," Coakley said.

Last June, the Student Advisory Team recommended the Centennial School Board explore the possibility of later school start times to boost attendance.

The board examined the research on the topic, surveyed people and held listening sessions with the community. About 63 percent of those who responded to the survey favored later start times for Centennial schools.

Many studies agree with the survey and have found that later start times improve attendance and academic success.

The American Academy of Pediatrics found "a substantial body of research has now demonstrated that delaying school start times is an effective countermeasure to chronic sleep loss and has a wide range of potential benefits to students with regard to physical and mental health, safety and academic achievement."

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