Later school start time may produce benefits but more evidence is needed
Many studies have been conducted to examine the impact for students of later school start times, some of which can be found in previous issues of Best Evidence in Brief. ThisCampbell systematic review summarizes the findings from 17 studies to examine the evidence on the impact of later school start times on students' mental health and academic performance.
The studies included in the review were randomized controlled trials, controlled before-and-after studies, and interrupted time series studies with data for students aged 13 to 19 and that compared different school start times. The studies reported on 11 interventions in six countries, with a total of almost 300,000 students.
The main results of the review suggest that later school starts may be associated with positive academic benefits and psychosocial outcomes. Later school start times also appear to be associated with an increase in the amount of sleep children get. Effect sizes ranged from +0.38 to +2.39, equivalent to an extra 30 minutes to 2 hours of sleep each night. However, the researchers point out that, overall, the quality of the body of evidence is very low, and so the effects of later school start times cannot be determined with any confidence.
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