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

See all articles by Jennifer Heissel

Jennifer Heissel

Naval Postgraduate School

Samuel Norris

University of Chicago

Date Written: April 13, 2017

Abstract

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

Heissel, Jennifer and Norris, Samuel, Rise and Shine: The Effect of School Start Times on Academic Performance from Childhood Through Puberty (April 13, 2017). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2674256 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2674256

Jennifer Heissel

Naval Postgraduate School ( email )

Graduate School of Business and
Naval Postgraduate School
Monterey, CA 93943
United States

HOME PAGE: http://sites.google.com/site/jheissel/home

Samuel Norris (Contact Author)

University of Chicago ( email )

1155 East 60th Street
Chicago, IL 60637
United States

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