Start Ridgefield High School Later
Ridgefield BOE and Superintendent of Ridgefield Public Schools
First Wilton (2003) and now Greenwich (approved for 2017-18).
Westport, Guilford, New Canaan, Darien, Newtown and others actively discussing the issue.
What about Ridgefield?
On 10/23, the Ridgefield BOE unanimously approved a shift in school start times for the 2019-20 academic year to more closely align with research on student sleep and health.
UPDATE 6/14/17. The BOE has created a School Start Times Steering Committee :
"Overall wellness of our students is essential to teaching and learning. Through a process of deep review of research, transportation parameters and costs, stakeholder feedback, and policy impact, the Board of Education plans to make an implementation decision by the end of October 2017. If approved, the new start times would be implemented with the 2018-19 school year."
UPDATE: On 2/27/17, the Ridgefield BOE passed a motion regarding implementation for the 2018/19 school year. The BOE strategic planning committee is actively working on that plan.
By signing this petition, we respectfully request that the Board of Education and the Ridgefield Public Schools Administration actively investigate later start times as part of the Strategic Planning process. By prioritizing for the 2017 school year, the BOE would demonstrate that the health, well-being, and success of our children remain of paramount importance.
We recognize there are obstacles, but as we have seen with other districts they can be overcome in the interest of the health and well-being of our teens.
Science clearly demonstrates that teens who get 8 or more hours of sleep:*
- Experience improved grades and score higher on achievement tests. In one study, SAT scores for the top 10% improved by more than 200 points.
- Have better rates of attendance and are tardy less often.
- Experience up to 70% fewer car accidents (the later the school start time, the fewer accidents).
- Are 68% less likely to suffer sports-related injury.
- Are less likely to engage in risky behaviors, are less often depressed and irritable, and less likely to struggle with being overweight.
In teens, the secretion of the sleep hormone melatonin begins at about 10:45 p.m. and continues until about 8 a.m., making it difficult to fall asleep before 11 p.m. and to wake early. In other words, the biology of adolescents is in conflict with early start times. A 3 year study of 8 public schools in 3 states shows that schools starting later allow for more than 60% of students to obtain at least 8 hours of sleep per school night, whereas fewer than 34% of students sleep for 8 hours when school starts at 7:30 or earlier.
The American Academy of Pediatrics, American Medical Association, and the Centers for Disease Control (among many others) recommend that teens start school no earlier than 8:30 AM. The Connecticut Interscholastic Athletic Conference (CIAC) concurs, stating that “later start times… improve student achievement…and [the CIAC] will continue to offer student-athletes the same opportunities for sports participation… regardless of individual district decisions on school starting times.”
As signers of this petition, we are NOT endorsing any particular solution to this problem or any specific start time. We are asking that the Ridgefield BOE and Strategic Planning Committee investigate and prioritize for the 2017 school year viable options for a later start time as recommended by sleep experts for Ridgefield adolescents.
S.E. Carrell, et al. A’s from Zzzz’s? The Causal Effect of School Start Time on the Academic Achievement of Adolescents . American Economic Journal: Economic Policy 3 (August 2011): 62–81.
Wahlstrom, K., Dretzke, B., Gordon, M., Peterson, K., Edwards, K., & Gdula, J. (2014). Examining the Impact of Later School Start Times on the Health and Academic Performance of High School Students: A Multi-Site Study. Center for Applied Research and Educational Improvement . St Paul, MN: University of Minnesota.
Wheaton AG, Chapman DP, Croft JB.
School start times, sleep, behavioral, health, and academic outcomes: A review of the literature
. Journal of School Health. 2016;86(5):363–381.Accessed on May 27, 2016 Review of 38 reports examining the association between school start times, sleep, and behavioral, health and academic outcomes among adolescent students
American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP). Let them sleep: AAP recommends delaying start times of middle and high schools to combat teen sleep deprivation . 2014.Accessed on May 27, 2016
AAP Sleep and Athletic Injury Matthew D. Milewski, MD1, James L. Pace, MD1, David A. Ibrahim, BA1, Greg Bishop, MS2, Audrius Barzdukas, M.Ed.2 and David L. Skaggs, MD1, (1)Children's Orthopaedic Center, Children's Hospital of Los Angeles, Los Angeles, CA, (2)Athletics, The Institute for Scholastic Sport Science and Medicine, Harvard-Westlake School, Studio City, CA
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Schools start too early: Starting school later can help improve an adolescent’s health, academic performance, and quality of life. Accessed on May 27, 2016
AMA Supports Delayed School Start Times to Improve Adolescent Wellness.
Accessed on June 14, 2016
CIAC statement Connecticut Interscholastic Athletic Conference Handbook, p 221. Strong support of later school start times.
Start School Later, Inc., is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization that works at local, state, and national levels to raise awareness about and advocate for safe and healthy school hours. Start School Later, StartSchoolLater.net, and the Start School Later logo are the trademarks of Start School Later, Inc. and are used here with permission. The statements made here by the Ridgefield, Connecticut, chapter are not necessarily those of Start School Later, Inc.
Ridgefield BOE and Superintendent of Ridgefield Public Schools
From: [Your Name]
The scientific research on adolescent sleep patterns and the problems associated with not getting enough sleep clearly indicate that RPS's school start times are hurting the health of our children. We're asking that the Ridgefield BOE align the start time for RHS to the recommendations from the CDC, AMA, and AAP (among many others).
We respectfully request that the Board of Education and the Ridgefield Public Schools Administration actively investigate later start times as part of the Strategic Planning process. By prioritizing for the 2017 school year, the BOE would demonstrate that the health, well-being, and success of our children remain of paramount importance.
Many districts have already changed, and this issue is actively being discussed and addressed in many districts in our part of the country. We recognize there are obstacles, but as we have seen with other districts they can be overcome in the interest of the health and well-being of our teens.
Thank you for your consideration.