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Later start times for secondary education can force an earlier start for elementary students.

There is evidence to suggest that later start times for secondary education can have a positive impact on students. Studies have shown that teenagers have a natural sleep pattern that leads them to stay up late and wake up later in the morning. This is known as the “sleep phase delay.” As a result, many teenagers may struggle to fall asleep early enough to wake up for a traditional school start time, leading to a lack of sleep and associated problems such as fatigue, irritability, and difficulty concentrating.

By starting school later, students are more likely to get the recommended amount of sleep, which can lead to improved academic performance, mental health, and overall well-being. Studies have also shown that later start times can reduce tardiness, absenteeism, and behavioral problems in the classroom.

However, when school districts shift middle and high school students to start times later, transportation schedules often have to be adjusted, and elementary students end up starting class earlier.

In a recent paper published by the American Educational Research Association, Kevin Bastian and Sarah Fuller (University of North Carolina/Chapel Hill) report on their study of earlier school start times for elementary students in North Carolina. The pair examined the impact of start times on student absences, suspensions, and standardized test scores, using statewide data and the experience of one district that flipped its elementary and secondary start times, with elementary students starting earlier.

To hear more about their study listen to Episode 238 of the Class Dismissed podcast.

Also, a wildlife biologist that wants us to considering a new perspective when teaching biology. 

Doug Chadwick is a wildlife biologist, author, and frequent National Geographic contributor. During his 35 year affiliation with National Geographic, he’s offered in-depth coverage of wolverines, grizzly bears, and whales, to name a few.  

Now Chadwick has a new mission; he wants us to think differently about how humans mesh with nature. And he believes that a new way of thinking may need to start in the K-12 science classroom. 

The idea is that if humans had a better understanding of what we’re made of and how alike our DNA is to other living things, we may have a better appreciation of our purpose on Earth.

You can listen to Episode 238 of Class Dismissed on your favorite podcasting app or iTunes.

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