Im­prove at­ten­dance with later school start times

Baltimore Sun - - MAYLAND VOICES - Deb Jung, Columbia Lisa Van­Buskirk, Edge­wa­ter The writ­ers are, re­spec­tively, Howard County co-chap­ter leader and Mary­land chap­ter leader of Start School Later.

Howard County Public Schools’ proac­tive ap­proach to school at­ten­dance is ad­mirable (“Howard schools keep stu­dents in class by help­ing them to over­come chal­lenges,” Sept. 19). Omit­ted from the ar­ti­cle is the neg­a­tive im­pact of early school start times on mid­dle and high school at­ten­dance. If due to bi­ol­ogy and chang­ing sleep pat­terns, ado­les­cents miss their early morn­ing bus stop, they may not have al­ter­na­tive trans­porta­tion op­tions to make it to school, miss­ing part or all of the school day.

We’ve an­a­lyzed data from the Mary­land Re­port Card on the Mary­land State Depart­ment of Ed­u­ca­tion’s web­site. In school sys­tems where there are both early- and late-stat­ing mid­dle and high schools such as Wash­ing­ton and Charles coun­ties, there is a marked dif­fer­ence in chronic ab­sen­tee rates be­tween early- and later-start­ing schools. The dif­fer­ence is more dra­matic when look­ing at mi­nor­ity stu­dents or those who qual­ify for free and re­duced-price meals. This matches na­tional trends and re­search that found there is a de­crease in tar­di­ness and ab­sen­teeism with ad­just­ments to later school start times. Dis­ad­van­taged stu­dents ben­e­fit twice as much as the av­er­age stu­dent from ad­just­ments in school start times.

Howard County’s stu­dents will have even more sys­tem­atic sup­port to at­tend school with the school board’s April 28 rec­om­men­da­tion to ad­just mid­dle and high school start times (cur­rently as early as 7:40 a.m. for mid­dle schools and 7:25 a.m. for high schools), for the 2017-2018 school year. Other Mary­land coun­ties should sim­i­larly look at mov­ing their mid­dle and high school start times to match ado­les­cent bi­ol­ogy and ex­pert rec­om­men­da­tions, thereby po­ten­tially de­creas­ing their chronic ab­sen­tee rates.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.