Thank you for your article highlighting the issues and research around high school schedules. As a high school teacher, this has been a major concern for me.
The reasons for early starts are not easily dismissed — bus schedules, and the expense of providing transportation directly impacts all taxpayers, not just parents. Students’ ability to participate in school sports and activities, which promotes student achievement, dictates an early schedule.
I believe an answer might lie in considering staggered start times at the high school level, coupled with a seven, or even an eight-period day, This would allow students, teachers and families to individualize schedules, based on their needs. Student athletes and kids who are working or caring for younger siblings could start earlier. Those who have later family schedules could get more sleep, and more family time. It would also allow kids who are behind in credits to take additional classes within the school day to catch up, and eliminate the need for summer school classes.
This proposal is costly, and would complicate the scheduling of classes and student activities outside of our current school times. It would require a community that is willing to bear those complications, and the costs of increased budgets for transportation and supervision/ staffing required for a longer day. Without community support for more flexibility in scheduling, nothing will change. We will continue to see fractured family schedules, and my colleagues and I will continue to have sleep-deprived students who under-perform/lose credit for non-attendance in their early classes.