Early to Rise: The Effect of Daily Start Times on Academic Performance

Finley Edwards

Baylor University - Department of Economics

July 18, 2012

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 identify the causal effect of daily start times on academic performance. Using variation in start times within schools over time, the effect is a two percentile point gain in math test scores - roughly fourteen percent of the black-white test score gap. I find similar results for reading scores and using variation in start times across schools. The effect is stronger for students in the lower end of the distribution of test scores. I find evidence supporting increased sleep as a mechanism through which start times affect test scores. Later start times compare favorably on cost grounds to other education interventions which result in similar test score gains.

Number of Pages in PDF File: 39

Keywords: Start Times, Test Scores, Education Production Function

JEL Classification: I2

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Date posted: November 6, 2010 ; Last revised: October 20, 2012

Suggested Citation

Edwards, Finley, Early to Rise: The Effect of Daily Start Times on Academic Performance (July 18, 2012). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1628693 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1628693

Contact Information

Finley Edwards (Contact Author)
Baylor University - Department of Economics ( email )
P.O. Box 98003
Waco, TX 76798-8003
United States
HOME PAGE: http://www.FinleyEdwards.com
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