Dr. Roger Thompson will address the need for later start times in Hamilton County middle and high schools when he addresses the Southeast Tennessee Commission on Children and Youth Legislative Breakfast on Friday, February 1.    The breakfast will be held at UTC.

Most Hamilton County middle schools and high schools begin the school day at 7:15 a.m.  The majority of magnet schools in Hamilton County are open from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Thompson, Professor of Criminal Justice at The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, will be one of three guest speakers at the event.  He will discuss a variety of studies that suggest the biological clocks of pre-teens and teenagers are different from adults.  These studies indicate students who begin school later in the day are more awake in the classroom, achieve higher grades, and have a better chance of avoiding negative behaviors.

If it were up to Thompson, Hamilton County pre-teens and teenagers would attend school from 10 a.m.-6 p.m. He considers this the ideal timeframe for these age groups to be most functional in the classroom.

Later start times would affect the schedule of student bus transportation, so changes would require the cooperation of many in the school system, Thompson acknowledged.

“Is it time we raise the question?  And now can we begin to experiment?” Thompson asked.

At the SETCCY Legislative Breakfast, Thompson will talk about a discussion paper written by Brian A. Jacob and Jonah E. Rockoff for the Brookings’ Hamilton Project, “launched in 2006 as an economic policy initiative to create a growing economy that benefits more Americans.”

The paper references a study of freshmen academic performance at the U.S. Air Force Academy by Carrell, Maghakian, and West (2011).  The research was focused on young students who must take assigned classes beginning anywhere from 7-8:30 a.m.

“Carrell and his colleagues (2011) found that students assigned to start classes prior to 8:00 a.m. performed worse not only in their first-period course, but in all of their courses. Moreover, the size of the effect was substantial, with a one-hour delay associated with a 0.15 standard deviation increase in performance…

“Do the results from the Air Force study have broader implications? We think so. College freshmen are just slightly older than high school students and share many of the biological characteristics associated with their sleep cycles.”

For more information about the SETCCY Legislative Breakfast, call Rosalyn Leavell-Rice, Southeast Tennessee Regional Coordinator, Tennessee Commission on Children and Youth, 423/510-9153 or email Rosalyn.Leavell-Rice@tn.gov.

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