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Start High School Later for Better Academic Outcomes

Education Next – David Figlio

“Many proposals for improving student performance involve very costly interventions. And while quite a few of these costly interventions surely pass benefit-cost tests, they can be extremely challenging, politically or financially, to implement. One possible source of “low-hanging fruit” involves changing the ways in which schools are organized. As one example, in a very useful recent policy proposal, Jacob and Rockoff propose three low-cost ways to organize schools to maximize student performance: combining elementary and middle schools into single buildings; optimizing teacher assignment policies; and starting school later in the day for middle and high school students. [1] Of Jacob and Rockoff’s proposals, this third idea seems particularly actionable: New buildings need not be built or retrofitted, and the nature of teachers’ jobs would not appreciably change. School districts that start elementary schools later and high schools earlier could potentially swap these schedules without major transportation disruptions. This would permit adolescents to sleep later and therefore arrive at school more ready to learn.”(more)

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