Here is a copy of an email from

Dennis Nolan, J.D.

Certified specialist, juvenile law (child welfare)

I have not verfied all of this information.  I am just providing this for information.



Dear Superintendents Hopkins and McIntire,


News reports reflect that the Rochester School Department has appointed an ad hoc committee to determine whether secondary school students may perform better if start times are delayed. (Allen, Rochester panel wants to study data if students will perform better with later start (Oct. 2, 2012) Foster’s Daily Democrat.)


I write now to observe only that (i) 8:30 a.m. is the earliest start time proposed by any expert for middle or high school students (discussed infra), and (ii) overwhelming evidence supports the conclusion that later starting students outperform their earlier starting peers. Taking the second point first, economists have recently established a causal relationship between later start times and improved academic performance among adolescent students.


EdwardsEarly to Rise? The Effect of Daily Start Times on Academic Performance (Dec. 2012) 31 Economics of Education Rev. 6, pp. 970-983; see also, EdwardsDo Schools Begin Too Early? (Summer 2012) 12 Education Next 3; Buckhalt, Can Later Start Times Affect School Achievement? (Sept. 30, 2012) Psychology Today [citing Edwards‘ study as “direct evidence” of the “measurable significant effect” of later start times on adolescent academic achievement].


CarrellMaghakian, & WestA’s from Zzzz’s? The Causal Effect of School Start Time on the Academic Performance of Adolescents (Aug. 2011) 3 Am. Economic J.: Economic Policy 3, pp. 62-81. When reading the study by Carrell et al., supra, bear in mind that biological adolescence lasts until around 19.5 years for women and 20.9 years for men. (Hagenauer, Perryman, Lee, & CarskadonAdolescent Changes in the Homeostatic and Circadian Regulation of Sleep (2009) 31 Developmental Neuroscience 4, p. 276; Kruszelnicki, Teenage Sleep (May 3, 2007) ABC Science.)


Relying upon the foregoing studies, the biological evidence, a recent study by Cortes, et al., and data reflecting the prevalence of sleep deprivation among adolescents attending early starting schools, economists from Columbia University and the University of Michigan “conservatively” estimate that shifting middle and high school start times “from roughly 8 a.m. to 9 a.m.[]” will increase academic achievement by 0.175 standard deviations and increase individual student future earnings by approximately $17,500, at little or no cost to schools; i.e., a 9 to 1 benefits to costs ratio. (Jacob & Rockoff, Organizing Schools to Improve Student Achievement: Start Times, Grade Configurations, and Teacher Assignments (Sept. 2011) Hamilton Project, Brookings Inst., pp. 5-11, 21, n. 7.)


With respect to the costs involved in adhering to early start times, see Troxel, The high cost of sleepy teens (May 23, 2012) Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.


Start Time Recommendations:


“During the school year, many teenagers find themselves nodding off during their early morning classes as high school bells ring around 7:30 a.m. While parents and teachers may attribute falling asleep during class to staying up too late checking Facebook statuses and texting with friends, medical evidence suggests that an early school start time before 8:30 a.m. is a greater culprit because classes are occurring when students’ brains and bodies are still in biological sleep mode.”—Kyla Wahlstrom, Ph.D., Director, Center for Applied Research & Educational Improvement (CAREI), Univ. Minn. (Wahlstrom, Later High School Start Times Improve Student Learning and Health (Aug. 24, 2012) Univ. Minn., College of Education & Human Development, Vision 2020 Blog.)


“High school should start at 8:45 a.m., or better at 9 o’clock.”—Jeffrey Deitz, M.D. (Deitz, Children’s Sleep: Time For A Wake-Up Call (Dec. 11, 2011) Huffpost: Healthy Living.)


“The study strongly recommends that middle schools should consider delaying the school starting time by at least one hour. Such a change could enhance students’ cognitive performance by improving their attention level, increasing rate of performance, as well as reducing their mistakes and impulsivity.”—Dubi Lufi, Ph.D., Emek Yezreel College, Emek Yezreel, Israel, Orna Tzischinsky, Ph.D., Emek Yezreel College, Emek Yezreel, Israel, Sleep  Laboratory, Faculty of Medicine, Technion-Israel Institute of Technology, Haifa, Israel, Stav Hadar, M.A., Emek Yezreel College, Emek Yezreel, Israel. (Lufi, Tzischinsky, & Hadar, Delaying School Starting Time by One Hour: Some Effects on Attention Levels in Adolescents (Apr. 2011) 7 J. Clinical Sleep Medicine 2, p. 137, italics added [study shifted start times from 7:30 a.m. to 8:30 a.m.].)


“Probably, 9 o’clock would be the ideal start time for high schools.”—Judith Owens, M.D., Associate Professor of Pediatrics, Brown University, Director, Pediatric Sleep Disorders Clinic, Hasbro Children’s Hospital. (Burns, No More Dozing Off in First Period (Aug. 1, 2010) Miller-McCune.)


Martin Ralph, Ph.D., Professor of Psychology at the University of Toronto, recommends that high school classes begin at 11 a.m. (Kruszelnicki, Teenage Sleep (May 3, 2007) ABC Science; see, Lim, Maas Pushes for Later Start Time at Schools (Feb. 26, 2009) Cornell Daily Sun [Harvard study finds teen brain doesn’t fully awaken until 11 a.m.]; Preckel, Lipnevich, Boehme, Brandner, Georgi, Könen, Mursin, & Roberts, Morningness-eveningness and educational outcomes: the lark has an advantage over the owl at high school (2011) British J. Education Psychology, pp. 1-21 [among 9th and 10th graders, larks (morningness chronotypes) outperform owls (eveningness chronotypes) on exams administered from 10 a.m. to noon].)


“A long-term solution to chronic sleep deprivation in adolescents that others conducting research on adolescent sleep behaviors support may mean that high school start times should be no earlier than 8:30 A.M. The change in high school start times will need to occur at the state level so that school sports and social events can be coordinated among schools.”—Heather Noland, M.Ed., James Price, Ph.D., M.P.H., Professor, Department of Health and Rehabilitative Services, University of Toledo, Joseph Dake, Associate Professor, Department of Health and Rehabilitative Services, University of Toledo, & Susan Telljohann, Professor, Department of Health and Rehabilitative Services, University of Toledo. (Noland, Price, Dake, & Telljohann, Adolescents’ Sleep Behaviors and Perceptions of Sleep (2009) 79 J. School Health 5, p. 230, fns. omitted.)


“The often serious impact of this chronic under-sleeping is now evident in both high school and middle school students. [¶] For all students one of the most salient—and correctable—social factors contributing to student sleep deprivation, is school start times. [¶] The circadian biology of sleep would predict that among individual children, those who are predisposed to be ‘night owls’ would be even more likely to suffer the consequences of sleepiness in a school system that imposes start times before 9 a.m. [¶] In brief, there are two features of the circadian rhythm especially important to understand regarding sleep in teenagers: (1) the drowsy signal that cues bedtime is dependent on the dampening of circadian-dependent alertness; and (2) the physiology of puberty causes a shift in the circadian rhythm which delays the timing of this biological bedtime by about an hour. These two biological factors underlie the main difficulties faced by adolescents attending school before 9:00 a.m.: the general problem that one cannot easily fall asleep before their biological bedtime, and the additional problem that puberty creates a tendency for even later bedtimes. [¶] Though research has not yet identified an ideal school schedule, the wealth of evidence reviewed in this chapter and elsewhere strongly suggests that students have a better opportunity to be rested and ready to learn by delaying school start time to 8:30 a.m. or later.”—Edward O’Malley, Ph.D., Mary O’Malley, M.D., Ph.D., Director of the Developing Fellowship Program, Norwalk Hospital. (O’Malley & O’Malley, School Start Time and Its Impact on Learning and Behavior, publish. in, Sleep and Psychiatric Disorders in Children and Adolescents (Ivanenko edit., Informa Healthcare 2008) pp. 79, 83-84, 89.)


“Right now, high schools usually start earlier in the morning than elementary schools. But if school start times were based on sleep cycles, elementary schools should start at 7:30 and high schools at 8:30 or 8:45—right now it’s the reverse. School systems should be thinking about changing their start times. It would not be easy—they would have to change the busing system—but it would increase their student’s sleep time and likely improve their school performance.”—Richard Schwab, M.D., Associate Professor of Pulmonary Medicine, University of Pennsylvania, Co-Director, Penn Sleep Center. (Start School Later in the Morning, Say Sleepy Teens (May 20, 2007) Am. Thoracic Society; cf. Epstein, Chillag, & Lavie, Starting times of school: effects on daytime functioning of fifth-grade children in Israel (May 1998) 21 Sleep 3, 250-256; see also, Scott, The Squeeze on Zs, Part 2: Teens Struggle with Sleep Time (Feb. 6, 2012) Maryland Heights Patch [“It really makes sense for elementary school students to go to school first.”—John Spivey, M.D., board certified specialist, pediatric sleep medicine, pediatric pulmonology].)


“Overall, many adolescents confront a major challenge if schools begin earlier than 8:30 a.m.; many schools start too early in the morning for adolescents to get adequate sleep, whether in the United States or in other countries such as Canada, Israel, Brazil, or Italy. [¶] [S]chool administrators are being urged to acknowledge the evidence and to adjust school schedules accordingly (e.g., delay high school start times).”—Amy Wolfson, Ph.D., Professor of Psychology, College of the Holy Cross, Mary Carskadon, Ph.D., Professor of Psychiatry, Brown University School of Medicine, Director of Chronobiology and Sleep Research, Bradley Hospital. (Wolfson & Carskadon, A Survey of Factors Influencing High School Start Times (Mar. 2005) 89 Nat. Assn. Secondary School Principals Bull. 642, pp. 49, 50, citations omitted.)


“Schools with start times before 8:30 a.m. place students at a disadvantage in terms of arousal and alertness, not only for early morning classes but also throughout the day because adolescents’ biological rhythms are out of sync with typical school routines.”—Peg Dawson, Ed.D., N.C.S.P., Staff Psychologist, Center for Learning and Attention Disorders, Seacoast Mental Health Center, past president of the New Hampshire Association of School Psychologists, the National Association of School Psychologists, and the International School Psychology Association. (Dawson, Sleep and Adolescents (Jan. 2005) Counseling 101, p. 12; see also, Sleep and Sleep Disorders in Children and Adolescents: Information for Parents and Educators (2004) Nat. Assn. School Psychologists Resources.)


“Although providing a home environment to promote healthy sleep is the first step to eliminating sleep deprivation in adolescents, increased public awareness of the impact of sleep on learning and behavior is important. For this to occur legislation to ensure that high school start times not begin before 9:00 a.m. may help in reducing sleep deprivation leading to improved academic performance and behavior[.]”—Georgios Mitru, M.Ed., Daniel Millrood, M.Ed., M.S.P.T., New York Medical College faculty, Jason H. Mateika, Ph.D., Professor of Physiology, Wayne State University. (Mitru, Millrood, & Mateika, The Impact of Sleep on Learning and Behavior in Adolescents (Jun. 2002) 104 Teachers College Record 4, p. 721.)


“In 1913, Terman and Hocking (1913) reported that sleep in adolescents in the western U.S. was longer than that previously reported in studies of English (n=6180) (Ravenhill 1910) or German (Bernhard 1908) children and adolescents. One of the factors that they felt explained this difference was that school start times were an hour later (9:00 AM) in the U.S. than those in Germany and England (7:00–8:00 AM). They go so far as to state, ‘The American practice of beginning at 9 o’clock is far wiser, and should never be changed unless for very special reasons.’ ” (Colrain & Baker, Changes in Sleep as a Function of Adolescent Development (2011) 21 Neuropsychology Rev., p. 13, quoting Terman & Hocking, The sleep of school children; its distribution according to age, and its relation to physical and mental efficiency (1913) J. Educational Psychology, p. 271.)


Less Specific Recommendations


The single most profound difference we could make [i]n education … would be to let teens sleep on nature’s schedule (midnight to 9 a.m. or later).—JoAnn Deak, Ph.D., Educator and Psychologist. (Large, Shedding light on the teen brain (Jun. 8, 2009) The Seattle Times.)


Russell Foster, Ph.D., F.R.S., Chair of Circadian Neuroscience at Oxford University, says teenagers are biologically wired to stay up late and wake late, making a 9 a.m. start too early. (Critchley, Sleepy teens want later start (May 4, 2007) Herald Sun.) Professor Foster suggests classes not begin until the afternoon because teens’ body clocks can be delayed between two and four hours. (Making teens start school in the morning is ‘cruel,’ brain doctor claims (Dec. 1, 2007) London Evening Standard; see also, Hansen, Janssen, Schiff, Zee, & DubocovichThe Impact of Daily Schedule on Adolescent Sleep (Jun. 2005) 115 Pediatrics 6, pp. 1555-1561 [high school seniors perform better in the afternoon than in the morning on vigilance tests, symbol copying, visual search tasks, and logical reasoning].)


Implicit Recommendations


On January 26, 2012, Brown University Professor of Medicine Richard Millman encouraged a one hour delay in morning classes at Barrington High School. (Rupp, Barrington Studies Later School Start Time For Teens (Jan. 27, 2012) East Greenwich Patch.) The present start time is 7:40 a.m. (Rupp, Moving School Start Time Gets Push (Oct. 21, 2011) Barrington Patch). The district has posted a video of Professor Millman‘s presentation; the professor notes the value of a one hour delay at approximately 1:18:20, 1:23:00, and 1:53:00.


In 2008, following a presentation by Cornell University Professor of Psychology James Maas concerning the “conflict” between “academic clocks” and “teenagers’ body clocks,” Deerfield Academy delayed start times from 7:55 a.m. to 8:30 a.m. (Lim, Maas Pushes for Later Start Time at Schools, supra, Cornell Daily Sun.)


“Of all the arguments I’ve heard over school start-times, not one person has argued that children learn more at 7:15 a.m. than at 8:30.”—Mark Mahowald, M.D., University of Minnesota, Neurology Department, Professor and Chair, Hennepin County Medical Center, Director, Minnesota Regional Sleep Disorders Center. (Bronson, Snooze or Lose (Oct. 7, 2007) N.Y. Magazine, web p. 3.)


In 2009, scientists writing in the journal Developmental Neuroscience succinctly stated the uniformly held position of sleep experts on school start times: “For policy makers, teachers and parents, these results provide a clear mandate. The effects of sleep deprivation on grades, car accident risk, and mood are indisputable. A number of school districts have moved middle and high school start times later with the goal of decreasing teenage sleep deprivation. We support this approach, as results indicate that later school start times lead to decreased truancy and drop-out rates.” (Hagenauer, Perryman, Lee, & CarskadonAdolescent Changes in the Homeostatic and Circadian Regulation of Sleep, supra, 31 Developmental Neuroscience 4, p. 282.)


Yours truly,

Dennis Nolan, J.D.

Certified specialist, juvenile law (child welfare)

Starting Time Committee

The Starting Time Committee is beginning its work to focus first on the following question:  Assess whether a later starting time for high school and middle school sudents would likely have any positive impact on academic achievement, attendance, student behavior, or otherwise for high school and middle school student, and if so, identify the nature of such positive impact (s).

The Committee will begin reviewing the potential positive impacts, then consider any negative impacts on all K-12 students.

The following website will be a source of material:

The Committee members will be invited to provide information to post on this blog.