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The Relationship Between School Start Times and Educational Outcomes


Purpose of Review

Evidence shows that adolescents need later wake times for sufficient sleep and that starting school later improves sleep outcomes. In recent years, there has been increased interest in the effect of school start times on educational outcomes. We aim to summarize recent studies, evaluate key findings, and identify limitations in the literature.

Recent Findings

Recent studies examined the relationship of school start times to attendance, discipline, grades, test scores, and other outcomes. Many studies found that later start times improved attendance and grades. The results for test scores and other outcomes were more mixed. Nascent evidence suggests the relationship between start times and educational outcomes exists for younger students as well.


While findings suggest that later school start times were associated with better educational outcomes, the methodological approaches employed have limitations. Few studies used rigorous methods to examine within school changes in start times.

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Fig. 1


  1. There are often common challenges to delaying school start times (e.g., transportation, afterschool activities, parent work schedules). The following websites summarize those obstacles and provide ideas/resources for parents and education officials interested in delaying start times.


Papers of particular interest, published recently, have been highlighted as: • Of importance •• Of major importance

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Correspondence to Sarah C. Fuller.

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Sarah C. Fuller and Kevin C. Bastian declare that they have no conflict of interest.

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All reported studies/experiments with human or animal subjects performed by the authors have been previously published and complied with all applicable ethical standards (including the Helsinki declaration and its amendments, institutional/national research committee standards, and international/national/institutional guidelines).

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This article is part of the Topical Collection on Sleep and Learning

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Fuller, S.C., Bastian, K.C. The Relationship Between School Start Times and Educational Outcomes. Curr Sleep Medicine Rep 6, 298–305 (2020).

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