ZZZ's to A's
What Happened in Minneapolis
by Sarah Umberger
What they Did
Administrators in Minneapolis decided to change the start times of the 7 high school, 7 middle school and 71 elementary schools to allow for the sleep needs of the students.
High schools now begin at 8:40 a.m with a 3:20 p.m. dismissal, where they previously began at 7:15 a.m. with a 1:45 p.m. dismissal. Students were also given the option of attending a "zero hour" class that started at 7:40 a.m. in order to leave school earlier in the day.
Middle schools now begin at 9:40 a.m. where they previously began at 7:40 a.m., experiencing the most dramatic shift in time in the school system.
And the elementary schools start at one of three times: 7:40, 8:40 or 9:40 a.m.
The changes saw successful results within the first year of implementation in a variety of ways. Most importantly, the high school students gained an average of 5 hours of sleep each week. Attendance improved, with the greatest gains shown in students who had previously been attending a different school within the previous 1-2 years.
Continuous enrollment in the 10th grade was also significantly effected. The percentage of those who were continuously enrolled swelled to 67% in the 1999-2000 school year from 55% in 1995-96.
Teachers began to report that their students were more alert and more engaged in class discussions. After the change was implemented, 57% of teachers believed the new schedule improved alertness and sleepiness during the first two class periods of the day.
The students also gave positive reactions to the changes. They reported that they felt more awake during the day and felt less likely to fall asleep doing their homework, working on the computer or watching tv.
The comments of students at Edina High School are prime examples of how the changes positively influenced their outlook on their education.