School Start Times
Robbinsdale School Start Times to Change for the 2022-23 School Year
The Board has engaged in a comprehensive process to explore the benefits of changing school start times since the 2017-2018 academic year. The Board’s goal was to shift high schools to a later start time while minimizing additional transportation costs.
In December 2020, the School Board voted to change school start times, but didn’t determine when the change would happen. The Board voted Monday, April 19 to change school start times beginning with the 2022-2023 school year. The vote reflected approval of an alternative bell time schedule.
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Projected Start Times
2022-2023 School Year
Our School Board, in partnership with District administration, strives to meet the social-emotional needs of our students with a commitment to academic excellence for all, as outlined by our Unified District Vision.
Through a bell time analysis, seven possible schedules were brought forward to the Board during the 2019-2020 school year. The Board chose two of the seven scenarios (scenario six and seven) to move forward. On Dec. 7, 2020, the Board passed scenario six by a vote of five to two. This option would require 123 routes, with $53,000 in potential reduced annual spend. In general, routes would be split into three tiers.
On April 19, 2021, the Board voted to change school start times with the 2022-2023 school year with approval of an alternative bell time schedule of scenario six.
Alternative Projected Bell Times
Approved April 19, 2021
8 a.m. to 2:20 p.m. -- elementary schools except RSI/SEA
8:05 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. -- FAIR Pilgrim Lane
8 a.m. to 2:45 p.m. -- FAIR Crystal
8:30 a.m. to 3:20 p.m. -- high schools
9:15 a.m. to 4 p.m. -- middle schools
9:20 a.m. to 3:40 p.m. -- RSI and SEA
|2017-2018 School Year||Dates|
Together with the administration, the School Board reviewed and evaluated numerous research articles.
|2018-2019 School Year||Dates|
|Survey emailed to parents, secondary students and staff||January 2019|
|‘World Cafe’ community discussion||Feb. 26, 2019|
|School Board Work Session - overview of the World Cafe community discussion and memo with two scenarios outlined||March 4, 2019|
|‘World Cafe’ community discussion||March 19, 2019|
|School Start Time Advisory Committee meeting||April 16, 2019|
|School Board Work Session - overview of the second World Cafe community discussion, April subcommittee meeting and quantitative responses from surveys.||May 6, 2019|
|2019-2020 School Year||Dates|
|School Board Work Session - First Transportation Solutions provided an overview and data requirements of a bell time analysis process, and the Board discussed the benefits of a school start time change.||Sept. 9, 2019|
|School Board Work Session - Student Advisory to the Board of Education (SABE) annual meeting with the Board, with discussion of changing start times and impact on students.||Nov. 12, 2019|
|School Board Work Session - After comparing cost on the first three options (presented at the Sept. 9, 2019 Work Session), the First Transportation Solutions routing team was asked find a scenario that would provide a later start time for high school students while not negatively impact the budget. The new options are listed as option four and five in the presentation.||Dec. 2, 2019|
|School Board Work Session - First Transportation Solutions gave another presentation with addition of two scenarios (6 and 7).||Feb. 3, 2020|
|Survey sent to district families, secondary students (6-11) and staff.||Feb. 20-28|
|School Board Work Session - School Start Time survey data review||May 4, 2020|
|Start Time Advisory Committee virtual meeting||May 28, 2020|
|School Board Work Session - Update and next steps; discussed advisory committee notes and survey data review; recommendation on August’s agenda.||June 1, 2020|
|2020-2021 School Year||Dates|
|School Board Work Session - Summary about school start times||Aug. 3, 2020|
|School Board Regular Meeting - Approval of next steps toward changing school start times for school year 2021-2022. The Board voted to reaffirm its commitment to school start times. Motion passed 5 to 2, with Tyrrell and Lindberg voting no; Vento, Boone, Bassett, Herring and Sant voting yes.||Aug. 17, 2020|
|School Board Work Session - the Board looked at cost/benefits of bringing transportation in house, as it related to scenario 6 and 7. The Board reviewed school start times, potential impact on a transportation RFP for next year and discussed the potential of developing 'in-house' transportation instead of contracting that service.||Nov. 16, 2020|
|School Board Business Meeting - the Board voted on scenario 6 and 7, with scenario 6 successfully passing by a vote of 5-2.||Dec. 7, 2020|
|Development of School Start Time Steering Committee and subcommittees||December 2020 - January 2021|
|Steering Committee and Subcommittee meetings||January - March 2021|
|School Board Work Session - subcommittee report||April 6, 2021|
|School Board Regular Meeting - the Board voted to change school start times beginning with the 2022-2023 school year. Additionally, the vote reflected approval of an alternative bell time schedule to scenario 6.||April 19, 2021|
Alternate Projected Times for Scenario Six
Approved by the School Board April 19, 2021
- 8 a.m. to 2:20 p.m.
Forest, Lakeview, Meadow Lake, Neill, Noble, Northport, Sonnesyn, Zachary Lane
- 8 a.m. to 2:45 p.m.
FAIR School Crystal
- 8:05 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.
FAIR School Pilgrim Lane
- 8:30 a.m. to 3:20 p.m.
Armstrong, Cooper, Robbinsdale Academy-Highview
- 9:15 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Plymouth Middle School, Robbinsdale Middle School, Sandburg Middle School
- 9:20 a.m. to 3:40 p.m.
- No change to New Hope Early Childhood and Robbinsdale Transition Center
Initial Projected Times for Scenario Six
- 7:45 a.m. to 2:05 p.m.
Forest, Neill, Noble, Northport, RSI, SEA , Sonnesyn, Zachary Lane
- 8:35 a.m. to 3:25 p.m.
Armstrong, Cooper, Robbinsdale Academy-Highview
- 9:05 a.m. to 3:25 p.m.
Lakeview, Meadow Lake
- 9:20 a.m. to 4:05 p.m.
Robbinsdale Middle School, Sandburg Middle School
- 9:30 a.m. to 4:15 p.m.
FAIR School Crystal, Plymouth Middle School
- 9:35 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.
FAIR Pilgrim Lane
- No change to New Hope Early Childhood and Robbinsdale Transition Center
February 2020 Survey Results
In February 2020, the District surveyed parents/guardians, secondary students (grades 6-11) and staff about Scenario 6 and 7.
Parent/guardian survey results
Adjust start times at all levels (scenario 6): 1st choice for 31 percent
- Parents who do not have an elementary-aged student were more likely to respond favorably to adjusting start times at all levels.
- More than half (52%) of parents who do not have a high school aged student indicate that this option would be difficult for their family.
Adjust start times for secondary schools (scenario 7): 1st choice for 29 percent
- Generally, parents who have at least one high school students were more likely than other parents to respond favorably to adjusting start times at all levels.
Keep current start times: 1st choice for 39 percent
- Generally, parents who have at least one elementary-aged student were more likely than other parents to respond favorably keeping current start times.
Secondary students survey results
Adjust start times at all levels (scenario 6): 1st choice for 28 percent
Adjust start times for secondary schools (scenario 7): 1st choice for 41 percent
Keep current start times: 1st choice for 30 percent
Staff survey results
Adjust start times at all levels (scenario 6): 1st choice for 40 percent
Adjust start times for secondary schools (scenario 7): 1st choice for 21 percent
Keep current start times: 1st choice for 38 percent
Research Articles/Literature Review
Updated March 21, 2018
Policy Statement on School Start Times for Adolescents
American Academy of Pediatrics (2014)
The American Academy of Pediatrics recognizes insufficient sleep in adolescents as an important public health issue that significantly affects the health and safety, as well as the academic success, of our nation's middle and high school students. Although a number of factors, including biological changes in sleep associated with puberty, lifestyle choices, and academic demands, negatively affect middle and high school students' ability to obtain sufficient sleep, the evidence strongly implicates earlier school start times (i.e. before 8:30 AM) as a key modifiable contributor to insufficient sleep, as well as circadian rhythm disruption, in this population Furthermore, a substantial body of research has now demonstrated that delaying school start times is an effective countermeasure to chronic sleep loss and has a wide range of potential benefits to students with regard to physical and mental health, safety, and academic achievement. The American Academy of Pediatrics strongly supports the efforts of school districts to optimize sleep in students and urges high schools and middle schools to aim for start times that allow students the opportunity to achieve optimal levels of sleep (8.5-9.5 hours) and to improve physical (e.g. reduced obesity risk) and mental (e.g. lower rates of depression) health, safety (e.g. drowsy driving crashes), academic performance, and quality of life.
Despite the many benefits associated with more sleep when schools delay start times, the net impact on student achievement has not consistently been found to be statistically significant.
Start High School Later for Better Academic Outcomes
Brookings Institute (2017)
Jacob and Rockoff propose three low-cost ways to organize schools to maximize student performance: combining elementary and middle schools into single buildings; optimizing teacher assignment policies; and starting school later in the day for middle and high school students. Of Jacob and Rockoff’s proposals, this third idea seems particularly actionable: New buildings need not be built or retrofitted, and the nature of teachers’ jobs would not appreciably change. School districts that start elementary schools later and high schools earlier could potentially swap these schedules without major transportation disruptions. This would permit adolescents to sleep later and therefore arrive at school more ready to learn.
The positive findings associated with changing start times include:
- Small increases in achievement on standardized tests;
- Positive health and safety benefits due to physiology of teenagers; and
- Potentially more alert teenage drivers in the morning.
The negative findings associated with changing start times include:
- Safety and childcare issues associated with elementary children having days starting two hours earlier;
- Coordination issues for after-school sports and co-curricular activities for high school students; and
- Increased transportation costs if the start time change is not a flip-flop between elementary school and high school.
Insufficient Sleep and the Socioeconomic Status Achievement Gap
Buckhalt, J. (2011)
Research with adults and children has shown that sleep plays a vital and complex role in multiple physiological systems that maintain health and promote optimal functioning across many domains. For children, school is an important domain of functioning, and emerging research links sleep to academic achievement. Many children from lower socioeconomic status (SES) families sleep poorly, and when their sleep is compromised, the effects on cognitive functioning and academic achievement may be greater than for less disadvantaged children. Understanding how sleep affects performance may enrich theory relating to the achievement gap between groups of children differing in SES, and constitutes a new focus for prevention and intervention.
Sleep is part of a multisystem dynamic, but if it can be shown to account for any significant part of relations between SES and school performance, there are potentially important implications for enriching theory and formulating interventions. It has yet to be determined, however, if sleep interventions by themselves or coupled with direct academic interventions will be successful in improving achievement in all children and in narrowing the SES achievement gap.
Sleep, Sleepiness and School Start Times: A Preliminary Study
Dexter, D.; Bijwadia, J.; Schilling, D.; Applebaugh, G. (2003)
Background: High school students are reported to be excessively sleepy, resulting in decreased academic performance, increased psycho-social problems and increased risk of morbidity and mortality from accidents. Early school start times have been noted to contribute to this problem. This report attempts to confirm the relationship of early school start times with decreased sleep and increased sleepiness.
Methods: We examined sophomore and junior students in 2 local high schools with different start times and measured the amount of time slept and sleepiness.
Results: We found that students at the early start school reported reduced sleep time and more sleepiness than their counterparts at the later starting school.
Conclusion: Early school start times are associated with student reports of less sleep and increased sleepiness. Further studies in larger groups are recommended in view of the potential significant impact of sleep deprivation in this age group.
Later school start times moved students from the pathologically sleepy range to barely into the normal sleepiness range.
Early to Rise? The Effect of Daily Start Times on Academic Performance
Edwards, F. (2012)
Article link (PDF)
Local school districts often stagger daily start times for their schools in order to reduce busing costs. This paper uses data on all middle school students in Wake County, NC from 1999-2006 to study the impact of start times on academic performance. Using variation in start times within and across schools, I find that starting school one hour later leads to a three-percentile point gain in both math and reading scores. Using only variation in start times within schools over time, the effect is a two-percentile point gain. I find evidence that later start times are associated with decreased absences, less time spent watching television and a greater amount of time spent on homework, indicating that these factors may explain why later starting students have higher test scores.
Achievement gains of 2-3 percentile points can be expected for delaying school start times for an hour.
Why Are Parents Afraid of Later School Start Times?
Fattal, I. (2017)
Despite research demonstrating early school start times do not square with adolescents’ sleep needs, which negatively impacts mental and physical health as well as academic performance, many school districts have been mired in years-long debates over the issue. Sports, after-school activities, and transportation costs appear to be the primary obstacles to delaying school start times.
Sleep and school attendance in adolescence: Results from a large population-based study
Hysing, M.; Haugland, S.; Stormark, K.; Tormod, B.; Sivertsen, B. (2014)
Background: The aim of this study was to examine the link between adolescent sleep and non-attendance in school.
Methods: A large population-based study from Norway conducted in 2012, the youth@hordaland study, surveyed 8,347 adolescents aged 16–19 years (54% girls). Self-reported sleep measures included bedtime, rise time, sleep duration, sleep efficiency, sleep onset latency (SOL), wake after sleep onset (WASO), insomnia symptoms, tiredness, and sleepiness. School attendance was obtained from national administrative registries.
Results: Most sleep parameters were associated with increased risk of school non-attendance. After adjusting for gender and socioeconomic status, short sleep duration and sleep deficiency were the sleep measures with the highest odds of non-attendance (OR=4.61, CI 95% 3.29–6.46) and (OR=3.26, CI 95% 2.67– 3.99), respectively). Also, large bedtime discrepancies in weekend versus weekdays were associated with non-attendance (OR=2.43, CI 95% 1.93–2.02), as well as insomnia (OR=2.25, CI % 1.89–2.67) and daytime tiredness (OR=2.09, CI 95% 1.70–2.57). The associations were somewhat reduced after additional adjustment for depression, but remained significant in the fully adjusted model.
Conclusion: The demonstrated relationship between sleep problems and school absence suggests that careful assessment of sleep is warranted when adolescents present with extensive school absence. Future studies on how the sleep–school absence relationship in adolescence may impact later work affiliation in adulthood are needed.
The benefits of later start times were primarily found through reduced absences.
Organizing Schools to Improve Student Achievement: Start Times, Grade Configurations, and Teacher Assignments
Jacob, B.; Rockoff, J. (2011)
Education reform proposals are often based on high-profile or dramatic policy changes, many of which are expensive, politically controversial, or both. In this paper, we argue that the debates over these “flashy” policies have obscured a potentially important direction for raising student performance—namely, reforms to the management or organization of schools. By making sure the “trains run on time” and focusing on the day-to-day decisions involved in managing the instructional process, school and district administrators may be able to substantially increase student learning at modest cost.
In this paper, we describe three organizational reforms that recent evidence suggests have the potential to increase K–12 student performance at modest costs: (1) Starting school later in the day for middle and high school students; (2) Shifting from a system with separate elementary and middle schools to one with schools that serve students in kindergarten through grade eight; (3) Managing teacher assignments with an eye toward maximizing student achievement (e.g. allowing teachers to gain experience by teaching the same grade level for multiple years or having teachers specializing in the subject where they appear most effective).
We conservatively estimate that the ratio of benefits to costs is 9 to 1 for later school start times and 40 to 1 for middle school reform. A precise benefit-cost calculation is not feasible for the set of teacher assignment reforms we describe, but we argue that the cost of such proposals is likely to be quite small relative to the benefits for students. While we recognize that these specific reforms may not be appropriate or feasible for every district, we encourage school, district, and state education leaders to make the management, organization, and operation of schools a more prominent part of the conversation on how to raise student achievement.
Gains of approximately 0.15 standard deviations can be expected from delaying school start times in middle and high school, an effect nearly one-sixth the size of achievement gaps. Transportation costs and planning as well as outdoor sports, however, should be considered before moving to delay school start times.
Delayed school start times and adolescent sleep: A systematic review of the experimental evidence
Minges, K.; Redeker, N. (2016)
Many schools have instituted later morning start times to improve sleep, academic, and other outcomes in response to the mismatch between youth circadian rhythms and early morning start times. However, there has been no systematic synthesis of the evidence on the effects of this practice.
To examine the impact of delayed school start time on students’ sleep, health, and academic outcomes, electronic databases were systematically searched and data were extracted using the preferred reporting items for systematic reviews and meta-analyses (PRISMA) guidelines. Six studies satisfied selection criteria and used pre-post, no control (n = 3), randomized controlled trial (n = 2), and quasi-experimental (n = 1) designs. School start times were delayed 25-60 min, and correspondingly, total sleep time increased from 25 to 77 min per weeknight. Some studies revealed reduced daytime sleepiness, depression, caffeine use, tardiness to class, and trouble staying awake. Overall, the evidence supports recent non-experimental study findings and calls for policy that advocates for delayed school start time to improve sleep. This presents a potential long-term solution to chronic sleep restriction during adolescence. However, there is a need to rigorous randomized study designs and reporting of consistent outcomes, including objective sleep measures and consistent measures of health and academic performance.
Later school start times reduced tardiness and absenteeism; however, more systematic research on the effects on academic achievement needs to be conducted.
Changing Times: Findings from the First Longitudinal Study of Later High School Start Times
Wahlstrom, K. (2002)
In the early 1990s, medical research found that teenagers have biologically different sleep and wake patterns than the preadolescent or adult population. On the basis of that information, in 1997 the seven comprehensive high schools in the Minneapolis Public School District shifted the school start time from 7:15 a.m. to 8:40 a.m. This article examines that change, finding significant benefits such as improved attendance and enrollment rates, less sleeping in class, and less student-reported depression. Policy implications are briefly discussed, acknowledging this to be a highly charged issue in school districts across the United States.
Later school start times resulted in students getting more sleep, and lower levels of absence and tardiness. Sports were impacted somewhat, and the move caused uneasiness with many stakeholders.
Middle School Start Times: The Importance of a Good Night’s Sleep for Young Adolescents
Wolfson, A.; Spaulding, N.; Dandrow, C.; Baroni, E. (2007)
With the onset of adolescence, teenagers require 9.2 hr of sleep and experience a delay in the timing of sleep. In the “real world” with early school start times, however, they report less sleep, striking differences between their school-weekend sleep schedules, and significant daytime sleepiness. Prior studies demonstrated that high schoolers with later school starts do not further delay bedtimes but obtain more sleep due to later wake times. This study examined sleep-wake patterns of young adolescents attending urban, public middle schools with early (7:15 a.m.) versus late (8:37 a.m.) start times. Students (N = 205) were assessed at 2 time periods. Students at the late-starting school reported waking up over 1 hr later on school mornings and obtaining 50 min more sleep each night, less sleepiness, and fewer tardies than students at the early school. All students reported similar school-night bedtimes, sleep hygiene practices, and weekend sleep schedules.
Middle school students at schools with later start times slept more, and were less likely to be tardy or absent.
Current start times
The District currently has 124 transportation routes - 86 regular education and 38 special education. In general, routes are split into three tiers:
- High school (7:20 a.m. - 2:10 p.m.)
- Middle school (8 a.m. - 2:45 p.m.)
- Elementary school (9:25 a.m. - 3:45 p.m.)
School Start Times Panel Discussion
The Robbinsdale Area Schools community was invited to hear perspectives from other districts that changed school start times. Participating districts included Anoka-Hennepin Schools, Edina Public Schools, St. Louis Park Public Schools and St. Paul Public Schools.
The virtual event was held Thursday, Feb. 4, 2021.