School Start Times Study

Introduction:

The School Committee is currently considering the implications of Andover school schedules on adolescents’ mental health and well-being, and potential impacts of changing school start times within the district.

This webpage will serve as a place for resources and information for parents, faculty and staff. We encourage you to visit often. As the conversation continues, we will share updates here.

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Background: 

Over the past several years, Andover Public Schools, under the leadership of Dr. Berman, has built a formal strategic plan called the “Theory of Action.” 

The “Theory of Action” has a number of elements including a commitment that Andover students study a rigorous curriculum that drives academic growth. It also calls for consideration of students’ social, physical and emotional growth – in addition to academics.

Organizations including the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Medical Association, the National Education Association, American Academy of Sleep Medicine, and the Centers for Disease Control all recommend school not start before 8:30 AM for middle and high school students.

These organizations’ research concludes that sleep impacts brain function, which helps us perform better whether we’re taking a test, driving a car, or regulating our emotions. Well-rested students perform better academically, make better judgments, and have less physical and mental health problems.

In Andover, our current start times are:

  • High School – 7:44 AM
  • Middle Schools- 7:45 AM
  • Elementary Schools- 8:45 AM
  • Shawsheen- 9 AM

The School Committee has asked district leadership to evaluate the impact of making a change to school start times that would allow middle & high school students more sleep.

A small working group has been assembled to come up with logistical options, with the goal of making an overall positive impact on student well-being.

We understand and appreciate that scheduling changes are hard, and a decision to move start times would impact the lives of every Andover school family and staff member.

Of course, there will be pros and cons to every schedule, and we will look forward to gaining feedback from the community once options are developed.

To begin our public outreach, in November 2018 we held a community discussion around this issue, joined by Dr. Judith Owens, director of Sleep Medicine at Boston Children’s Hospital and professor in Neurology at Harvard Medical School. Her presentation can be found here.