Early to Rise? The Influence of School Start Times on Adolescent Student Achievement in the Clark County School District, Nevada

Okuda-Lim, Zhan [Browse]
Senior thesis
107 pages


Paluck, Elizabeth [Browse]
Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs [Browse]
Class year
Summary note
There is extensive evidence in the literature suggesting that because of early start times for middle schools and high schools, adolescents are not obtaining an optimal amount of sleep because changes in adolescents’ circadian rhythms during puberty cause adolescents to prefer sleeping later at night. Furthermore, this evidence indicates that the resulting chronic sleep loss among adolescents has negative effects on their cognitive function and health and wellness. Positive gains in student achievement associated with delayed middle school and high school start times have been less consistently demonstrated in the literature. However, there is more recent literature documenting gains in student academic achievement with delayed middle school and high school start times. This thesis, focused on the Clark County School District (CCSD) in Nevada, contributes to this literature by investigating whether a later schools tart time predicts higher achievement of middle school and high school students as measured by standardized test scores. The hypothesis was that there is a statistically significant and positive difference in standardized test scores between middle school and high school students who start school later in the morning versus such students who start school earlier in the morning. Using regression analysis, I found that the results were inconclusive. Although some results suggested a positive, albeit small, difference in standardized test scores associated with delayed school start times, the results were both positive and negative, and most results were not statistically significant to at least the 0.05 significance level. Nevertheless, these results and the limitations in the analysis present opportunities for future study, especially given that CCSD has explored establishing a pilot start time project to delay the start times of certain middle schools and high schools. I conclude by discussing both policy implications for delaying middle school and high school start times and best practices from school districts that have delayed these start times.

Supplementary Information