Teenagers are notoriously hard to rouse in the morning. Most schools are not very sympathetic to adolescent biorhythms, however. A new study from Rhode Island suggests that strict adherence to a traditional early-morning schedule is counterproductive. St. George’s School, a boarding school, pushed class start times back half an hour during the spring 2009 semester. The head of the school had promised skeptical faculty that they would return to an 8 am start time if the experiment didn’t pan out. But the results were dramatic.
Students were more likely to get to breakfast and less likely to fall asleep in class. Fewer were late to class, and most students reported being more motivated. The study was not long enough to judge changes in academic performance, but it does suggest that minor changes to make school schedules more teen friendly could have measurable benefits.