Rise and Shine: The Effect of School Start Times on Academic Performance from Childhood Through Puberty
59 Pages Posted: 16 Oct 2015 Last revised: 9 Feb 2022
Date Written: April 13, 2017
We analyze the effect of school start time on academic performance. Sleep patterns are determined in part by sunrise times, which vary across time zones. Because school start times do not fully reflect this difference, we instrument for the hours of sunlight before school with the time zone boundary in Florida. We find that moving start times one hour later relative to sunrise increases test scores by 0.08 and 0.06 standard deviations for adolescents in math and reading, respectively. In math, the effect is larger for older children and co-varies with entry into an important pubertal stage. School districts can improve performance while maintaining the current distribution of start times by moving classes earlier for younger children and later for older children.
Keywords: school start times, puberty, academic performance
JEL Classification: I20
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation