Early Birds in Elementary School? School Start Times and Outcomes for Younger Students
Early Birds in Elementary School? School Start Times and Outcomes for Younger Students

Published Online in:
Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis
October 13, 2022

Kevin C. Bastian, University of North Carolina
Sarah Crittenden Fuller, University of North Carolina

While research supports later start times for secondary schools, there is little evidence regarding start times for elementary schools. We address this gap with a statewide examination of elementary schools and a quasi-experimental analysis of an urban district that recently changed its elementary start times. We find that earlier start times predict less sleep for students. Regarding academic outcomes, our estimates are small in magnitude and suggest that earlier elementary start times have near-zero effects. Earlier start times predict a slight increase in absences and modestly higher math scores, especially for traditionally disadvantaged students. In districts that need to stagger start times, it may be advisable for elementary schools to start earlier to accommodate later secondary school start times.

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Read the press release: "Research Finds Earlier Start Times Have Little Effect on Elementary School Outcomes​"

Video: Co-authors Kevin C. Bastian and Sarah Crittenden Fuller discuss major findings and implications of their research

Study citation: Bastian, K.C, & Fuller, S.C. (2022). Early birds in elementary school? School start times and outcomes for younger students. Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis. Prepublished October 13, 2022. https://doi.org/10.3102/01623737221121799.

The Authors Discuss Their Findings