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Survey: Parents split on later school start for teens

Carlos Perez

Parents are split on the idea of later school start times for teenagers.

A new survey from C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital at the University of Michigan says about half of parents support the idea. Forty percent expect a later start time would allow their kids to get more sleep, and 22 percent think their kids would do better academically.

Dr. Matthew Davis directs the National Poll on Children’s Health. He says there are benefits for teens who get more sleep. “They learn better in school, they tend to have fewer health problems on the physical health side, such as obesity, and they tend also to be in a better frame of mind and have fewer behavioral problems.”

Credit C.S. Mott Children's Hospital
C.S. Mott Children's Hospital

But Davis said “other parents saw some downsides that also need to be part of the national conversation.” Twenty-two percent of parents said later start times would mean not enough time for after-school activities, and 14 percent said it would create transportation problems.

The American Academy of Pediatrics last year recommended that middle and high schools start at 8:30 or later. But Davis says 90 percent of the parents surveyed said their middle- and high school-aged kids start school earlier than that.

Ann Arbor Public schools is considering a change to its high school start times.

Sarah Hulett is Michigan Public's Director of Amplify & Longform, helping reporters to do their best work.