An early start to the day for high schoolers has long

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Introduction to Psychology: Gateways to Mind and Behavior
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Chapter 14 / Exercise 11
Introduction to Psychology: Gateways to Mind and Behavior
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An early start to the day for high schoolers has long been customary, but there are many arguments against it. CreditGretchen Ertl for The New York Times There are costs to pushing back the start times of schools, of course. Our local school system, like many others, uses the same buses for elementary, middle and high school. Not wanting to start elementary school too early, it starts high school earlier to save money on transportation. Other costs to delaying start times come after school, when later school end times result in later after-school activities . These can interfere with parents’ work schedules and run into evening hours, when it gets dark and additional lighting might be necessary. ADVERTISEMENT A Brookings Institution policy brief investigated the trade-offs between costs and benefits of pushing back the start times of high school in 2011. It estimated that increased transportation costs would most likely be about $150 per student per 31
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Introduction to Psychology: Gateways to Mind and Behavior
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Chapter 14 / Exercise 11
Introduction to Psychology: Gateways to Mind and Behavior
Coon/Mitterer
Expert Verified
INSTRUCTIONAL STRATEGIES FOR SECONDARY EDUCATION year. But more sleep has been shown to lead to higher academic achievement. They found that the added academic benefit of later start times would be equivalent to about two additional months of schooling, which they calculated would add about $17,500 to a student’s earnings over the course of a lifetime. Thus, the benefits outweighed the costs. This was a reasonably simple analysis, though, and it did not persuade many schools to change. A recent analysis by the RAND Corporation goes much further. Marco Hafner, Martin Stepanek and Wendy Troxel conducted analyses to determine the economic implication of a universal shift of middle and high school start times to 8:30 a.m. at the earliest. This study was stronger than the Brookings one in a number of ways. It examined each state individually, because moving to 8:30 would be a bigger change for some than for others. It also looked at changes year by year to see how costs and benefits accrued over time. It examined downstream effects, like car accidents, which can affect lifetime productivity. And it considered multiplier effects, as changes to the lives of individual students might affect others over time. They found that delaying school start times to 8:30 or later would contribute $83 billion to the economy within a decade. The gains were seen through decreased car crash mortality and increased student lifetime earnings. Since it would take at least a year for any students affected by changes in start times to enter the labor market, there would be no gains in the first year. Costs, however, would accrue immediately. These included about $150 per student per year in transportation costs and $110,000 per school costs in upfront infrastructure upgrades. Even so, by the second year, the benefits outweighed the costs. By 10 years, the benefits were almost double the costs; by 15 years, they were almost triple.

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