If you have taught teenagers, then you know to expect sleepy students during the first periods of the day. While we may be apt to chide students for not getting enough sleep, researchers say this may be due to simple biology.
Teenagers need 8-10 hours of sleep and tend to stay up late. In contrast, adults require around 6 hours of sleep and tend to go to sleep earlier. While we may be bright-eyed and perky at 8 am, our students may be struggling to keep their systems active as they fight the biological tendencies of their own bodies; their circadian rhythms change during puberty.
In the linked article, one group of Kentucky high schools started school one hour later and the number of students getting 8 hours of sleep went up almost 15%. Automobile crash rates for teenagers in that area also declined while rising everywhere else in the state.
Obviously, student activities and diet can affect their sleep patterns at night and their behavior in the morning, but moving the starting times of high schools one hour could help students be more productive and more safe. My school starts at 8:15 am, but we also offer extra courses at 7:00 am though they are rarely run because of too few students enrolling. We also have Monday late starts beginning at 9:45 am for students (7:45 am for teachers), but Mondays ironically enough have the highest tardy rates.
Also, other effects would be felt. Sports and activities would run later, after-school jobs would be affected, and driving schedules could suffer for parents and students alike.
Still, I wouldn’t mind trying this.