An early start time may lead to elementary school students getting less sleep, but it has little to no effect on their educational outcomes, according to a new study. What’s more, researchers say the effects of sleep deprivation are less harmful to elementary school students than middle or high school students.
One reason elementary school students start earlier is to stagger start times for transportation. However, it remains poorly understood how an early school schedule affects their ability to do well in class. Previous research has focused on middle school and high school students, which found that later start times worked better for them.
For elementary students, earlier start times predicted only a slight increase in absences and a small increase in math scores. Schools in California have taken educational research to reorganize their school schedule. Some school districts in certain states have opted to start middle school and high school at a later date.