# Greenspun

At the other college, however, things are … different. Harder. First of all, her professor never seems to explain anything. Instead, he’s constantly posing questions that seem deliberately vague, then he tells you to go find the materials and figure out the answer for yourself. She can’t skip class, even if it’s been a long day selling popcorn, because she’s part of a group of students who are all doing hands-on research and wrestling with tricky questions together; she doesn’t want to let them down. She feels like she’s learning a lot, sure, but she didn’t realize college would be so much work.

Yet Hayley’s experience of the comparative advantage of Cascadia (which is located next to the University of Washington) is borne out by hard data. Although its enrollees typically have less promising academic backgrounds than UW freshman, Cascadia graduates who then continue at UW earn better grades than their peers. It’s hard to imagine a clearer indication that the education students receive at Cascadia is superior.

Indeed, other measures of teaching quality suggest that Cascadia is the best community college in America. Using data from a well-respected survey of educational best practices, the Community College Survey of Student Engagement, the Washington Monthly has created the first-ever list of the nation’s top two-year colleges. (See America’s Best Community Colleges) Cascadia places number two overall, and in those measures most closely correlated with high grades and graduation rates-the extent to which teaching is active and collaborative-Cascadia tops the list.

Cascadia’s success is extraordinary. But the difference doesn’t depend on funding: the money spent per pupil at Cascadia is typical among community colleges, and about half that spent at the University of Washington. Nor is the college’s achievement the result of some secret formula not known to other educators. Not explaining things and making students work in teams to discover answers turn out to be precisely the kinds of teaching practices that decades of research say help students learn most. Yet the vast majority of four-year colleges and universities don’t teach their undergraduates this way. Instead, they rely far too often on the same old teaching methods nobody thinks are any good.

Unfortunately, there was a problem: the old model turned out to be a terrible way to teach most undergraduates. The standard lecture did little to engage students or push them to do the hard, hands-on work necessary to truly grasp college-level material. The doctoral programs that produced the nation’s college professors offered little or no instruction on the theory or practice of teaching. Instead, they trained and tenured PhDs in narrow areas of scholarship, who were then hired and promoted based wholly on their research, not their aptitude in the classroom.

The sharpest observers realized the mistake in expanding a system ill-suited for its primary mission, educating undergraduates. In 1963, Clark Kerr, the legendary architect of the California higher education system, delivered a historic lecture series at Harvard where he warned of the cruel paradox that a superior faculty results in an inferior concern for undergraduate teaching. As he later explained, the emphasis on research and the emphasis on teaching were not as compatible as we first assumed … the German Humboldt model assumed that teaching is always and in all ways improved by engagement with research. It is not. The upshot, as Kerr foresaw and others later came to realize, was that educational policy for undergraduates was neglected.

About the same time that the great expansion of higher education leveled off in the 1970s, a new wave of researchers studied and defined teaching methods superior to what most undergraduates actually received. Among the most famous was a seminal 1987 paper by researchers Arthur Chickering and Zelda Gamson, Seven Principles for Good Practice in Undergraduate Education. Synthesizing years of cognitive science and educational research, Chickering and Gamson mapped out the fundamental principles of effective teaching: The more students actively engage with subject matter, the better they master material and develop critical skills. Undergraduates learn most when they’re asked to solve problems, perform original research, work collaboratively-and receive regular feedback from the professor and their peers. The passive, impersonal lecture turned out to be the worst of all possible worlds.

It’s not often that a giant flaw in a vital public institution is known but almost completely ignored for decades on end. But that’s exactly what’s happened-Clark Kerr’s words ring as true today as they did in 1963. Chickering and Gamson’s seven principles were published twenty years ago, and now colleges like Cascadia offer proof positive that the ideas work in practice-not just in a class here or there, but college-wide. Yet poor teaching still abounds. As former Harvard President Derek Bok recently said, Colleges and universities, for all the benefits they bring, accomplish far less for their students than they should. That institutions built to educate and discover the truth refuse to implement the successful teaching practices that they themselves have discovered is a bitter and consequential irony.

Fixing this won’t be easy. New colleges and universities aren’t built very often, and we can’t just tear down the ones we have and replace them. There’s no reason, moreover, to believe that our institutions of higher education will voluntarily change on their own.

But there is at least one proven way to make many college presidents stand up, take notice, and rapidly implement reforms: alter their reputation in the marketplace. The U.S. News college rankings may be terribly flawed, but they’re undeniably influential. When the magazine began including alumni giving rates in the rankings equation, hundreds of call centers sprang up across the land to start bugging people at dinnertime for donations. If institutional reputations hung on measures of quality teaching, higher education leaders would finally have a strong reason to make the difficult choices they have for decades managed to avoid. Reliable measures of educational excellence for four-year schools do exist, but right now college administrators are the only ones who ever see t/hem. Students and parents need information before they can exert pressure for reform, and Washington should mandate that we all have access to it.

It made a lot of sense for professors to lecture in the 11th Century. What other means of broadcasting information from 1 person to 100 existed? Printing was very expensive and cumbersome. Having monks make 100 copies of a textbook by hand was not economically feasible.

The university incorporated an important quality control mechanism: student associations paid professors according to how well they taught, how many students were attracted to their lectures, and whether they showed up on time.

It made sense for students to show up to lecture and to do their homework. A student’s lodging might not have been heated. It might make sense to come to lecture simply to get warm. Students in 1088 had no television, no radio, no Internet, no email, no instant messaging, no mobile phone. A student might come to lecture for entertainment.

What about homework? Students in a pre-technological university would do homework either in the library or at home. Both places lacked television, video games, email, etc.

How has this changed the way classes are conducted? We still have lectures and homework, just as in 1088. What other industry could survive without adopting at least some of the technologies of the last 1000 years into its core processes?

Improved technology has rendered the traditional university instructional method far less effective. The student has a warm cozy apartment and will find sleeping late an attractive alternative to attending a lecture (or watching Good Morning America). The student sitting in lecture has some sort of device capable of browsing the Web, sending and receiving text messages, supporting games, displaying photos or video to an adjacent student.

Focusing on homework has become much tougher. A modern dorm room has a television, Internet, YouTube, instant messaging, email, phone, and video games. The students who get the most out of their four years in college are not those who are most able, but rather those with the best study habits.

No company would rely on this system for getting work done, despite the potential savings in having each employee work from home. Companies spend a fortune in commercial office space rent to create an environment with limited distractions and keep workers there for most of each day.

I was asked by Neumont University, a startup for-profit computer science school in Utah, for advice on how to structure the school. They didn’t know how unworkable these ideas were so they adopted most of them. Because their student body consists of kids from middle class families, there is no need for a long summer break for students to join their parents on a grand tour of Europe. Nor need the students take a month off in the winter to yacht around the Caribbean. Simply by being in session Monday through Friday, 8-5, for most of the year, Neumont is able to graduate CS majors in about 2.5 years. That’s 1.5 years in which the kid is not coming home to ask his parents for more money.

Neumont also adopted the idea of making most learning project-based. Neumont freshmen start with substantially lower SAT scores and high school grades than University of Utah freshmen. With brighter and better-prepared students plus a 150-year headstart, how does U. of Utah’s faculty do compared to Neumont’s? The graduate of U of U’s traditional lecture-and-homework CS program will be 1.5 years older than a Neumont graduate, start at a lower salary, and have fewer job offers.

How about lectures? You need to broadcast some information to 100 people. Printing was expensive and cumbersome in 1865. Telephone, television, and Internet did not exist. A lecture was probably indeed the most efficient way of getting some information to a large group, despite the fact that humans can read 3X faster than they can listen.. Compare to 2007, however, when you could simply email a list of those 100 people or provide them with a URL.

• Lecturing has been found to be extremely ineffective by all researchers. The FAA limits lectures to 20 minutes or so in U.S. flight schools.
• Lab and project work are where students learn the most. The school that adopted lab/projects as the core of their approach quickly zoomed to the first position among American undergrad schools of engineering (http://www.olin.edu).
• Engineers learn by doing progressively larger projects, not by doing what they’re told in one-week homework assignments or doing small pieces of a big project
• Everything that is part of a bachelor’s in CS can be taught as part of a project that has all phases of the engineering cycle, e.g., teach physics and calculus by assigning students to build a flight simulator
• It makes a lot of sense to separate teaching/coaching from grading and, in the Internet age, it is trivial to do so. Define the standard, but let others decide whether or not your students have met the standard.

Summer break badly affects learning and the learning of lower class kids the most http://www.rand.org/pubs/monographs/MG1120.html http://www.rand.org/content/dam/rand/pubs/monographs/2011/RAND_MG1120.pdf :

During summer vacation, many students lose knowledge and skills. By the end of summer, students perform, on average, one month behind where they left off in the spring. Of course, not all students experience average losses. Summer learning loss disproportionately affects low-income students. While all students lose some ground in mathematics over the summer, low-income students lose more ground in reading, while their higher-income peers may even gain. Most disturbing is that summer learning loss is cumulative; over time, the difference between the summer learning rates of low-income and higher-income students contributes substantially to the achievement gap.

• Cooper, Harris, Kelly Charlton, Jeff C. Valentine, and Laura Muhlenbruck, with Geoffrey D. Borman, Making the Most of Summer School: A Meta-Analytic and Narrative Review, Monographs of the Society for Research in Child Development, Vol. 65, No. 1, Malden, Mass.: Blackwell Publishers, 2000
• Cooper, Harris, Barbara Nye, Kelly Charlton, James Lindsay, and Scott Greathouse, The Effects of Summer Vacation on Achievement Test Scores: A Narrative and Meta-Analytic Review, Review of Educational Research, Vol. 66, No. 3, Fall 1996, pp. 227-268.
• Cooper, Harris, Jeffrey C. Valentine, Kelly Charlton, and April Melson, The Effects of Modified School Calendars on Student Achievement and on School and Community Attitudes, Review of Educational Research, Vol. 73, No. 1, Spring 2003, pp. 1-52.

We modeled our literature search approach after the work of Cooper, Nye, et al. (1996), using keyword searches of computerized reference databases, sifting through reference lists for relevant sources, and leveraging the expertise of education researchers who are leaders in the out-of-school-time (OST) field. Cooper, Nye, et al. (1996) provide a rigorous summary of the early evidence of summer learning loss through an extensive meta-analysis of the research published between 1975 and 1994. The literature included in Cooper, Nye, et al. (1996) was found through the computerized reference databases ERIC (Education Resources Information Center) and PsychLIT using the following keywords: summer loss, summer vacation, summer break, summer intercession, summer school, and summer variations.

We identified the work by Cooper, Nye, et al. (1996), Heyns (1978, 1987), and Entwistle and Alexander (1992) as the foundational studies on summer learning loss. We searched for studies that had referenced these pieces. Google Scholar indexed 294 publications that cited Cooper, Nye, et al. (1996); similar searches were performed for each of the other key articles. We reviewed each indexed publication citing one or more of these key articles for inclusion in our study, considering whether (1) the students represented in the research were between kindergarten and eighth grade and (2) whether summer loss was measured for an academic content area.

We also searched several computerized databases for articles published since 1994. The databases included in our search were ERIC, JSTOR, ISI Web of Knowledge, and Google Scholar. Wherever possible, we made use of thesaurus terms, such as summer programs, pairing them with the keywords loss, slide, or gap; ERIC identified 41, 47, and 29 publications, respectively (for a total of 117 citations). Through Google Scholar, we found 69 references that matched a search for summer program and academic achievement with the same sequence of loss-related keywords, and 23 of these references had been published between 2000 and 2010. JSTOR indexed 38 articles related to summer loss, and the ISI Web of Knowledge was used to find 19 articles that had been published since 2000. We reviewed the abstracts to determine whether each article contained some information or assessment of summer learning loss and whether it fit our inclusion guidelines. Chapter Two presents a more detailed discussion of the extent of summer learning loss, its cumulative effects, and differences by subject and grade level.

The loss of knowledge and educational skills during the summer months is cumulative over the course of a student’s career and further widens the achievement gap between low- and upper-income students, according to a RAND Corporation study issued today.

The study confirms that students who attend summer programs can disrupt the educational loss and do better in school than peers who do not attend the same programs.

It is becoming increasingly clear that the conventional six-hour, 180-day school year is insufficient to give many disadvantaged students the education they deserve, said Nancy Devine, director of communities at The Wallace Foundation. This long-awaited and timely RAND study, Making Summer Count, confirms the disproportionate impact of the summer slide on low-income students, and suggests that high-quality summer learning programs, though challenging to develop, are a promising path forward.

But The impact of year-round schooling on academic achievement: evidence from mandatory school calendar conversions, by McMullen & Rouse 2012 suggests redistributiong vacation may not work (undermining the spaced repetition interpretation):

In 2007, 22 Wake County, NC traditional-calendar schools were switched to year-round calendars, spreading the 180 instructional days evenly across the full year. This paper exploits this natural experiment to evaluate the impact of year-round schooling on student achievement. We estimate a multi-level fixed effects model to separate the impact of year-round schooling from the confounding impacts of other school, family, and individual characteristics. Results suggest year-round schooling has essentially no impact on academic achievement of the average student. Moreover, when the data is broken out by race, we find no evidence that any racial subgroup benefits from year-round schooling.

…Proponents of YRS calendars argue that they are beneficial to students because they help alleviate human capital loss during the long summer break (summer learning loss). Supporters further contend that the long break is particularly harmful for low-income, low-performing students who are less able to afford supplemental learning opportunities in the summer (Von Drehle, 2010). These assertions are largely supported by a wide literature on summer learning loss, which has found that student achievement stagnates over the summer, and that for low achieving and disadvantaged students especially, achievement can often decline while not in school (Cooper et al. 1996; Jamar 1994; Alexander et al. 2007).5 Alexander et al. (2007) finds that by the end of ninth grade, almost two-thirds of the socioeconomic achievement gap can be explained by differential summer learning loss. It is important to note, however, that the ability of YRS to address this problem depends crucially upon the nature of the human capital accumulation process. In this paper, we present a simple model that illustrates YRS can only improve achievement if learning loss accelerates with the number of days out of school or if there are diminishing returns to learning.6 Thus, even if disadvantaged students lose more human capital than their wealthier counterparts over summer, YRS cannot alleviate the problem unless there are specific non-linearities in the human capital process. If YRS acts largely as a remedy for summer learning loss, the impact should be no greater than the documented negative impact of a summer vacation away from school, which is rarely larger than a loss of 0.1 standard deviations of student achievement per year, and often close to zero (Downey et al. 2004; Cooper et al. 1996).

Our study adds to a body of literature, primarily coming from outside of the field of economics, that is well-summarized by the meta-analysis performed by Cooper et al. (2003). The general consensus coming out of that review is that the impact of year-round education on student achievement is, on average, nearly negligible. On the other hand, the evidence suggests the modified calendar does benefit low performing and economically disadvantaged students. McMillan (2001) finds similar results using a cross-sectional dataset from North Carolina. The primary drawback of these early studies is their failure to account for non-random student and school selection. The studies included in Cooper et al. (2003) do not adequately control for student and school characteristics, and none attempt to control for both unobserved student and school heterogeneity. Cooper et al. (2003) thus concludes that it would be difficult to argue with policymakers who choose to ignore the existent database because they feel that the research designs have been simply too flawed to be trusted (p. 43). …Most recently, Graves (2010) uses detailed longitudinal school-level data from California to estimate the impact of the multi-track year-round calendar on academic achievement. By including school fixed effects and school-specific time trends, Graves is able to mitigate concerns over non-random year-round calendar implementation. In contrast to much of the prior research on YRS, Graves finds achievement in multi-track year-round schools is 1 to 2 percentile points lower than that in traditional calendar schools. However, without student-level data, she is not able to control for non-random student selection into YRS or to estimate the impacts separately by race.

…Results from these models are presented in columns (c) and (f) of Table 6. The results from these model specifications tell a very different story. In contrast to the results reported in columns (a), (b), (d) and (e), which indicate a positive, statistically significant impact of YRS on both math and reading test score levels and growth, estimates from columns (c) and (f) imply that YRS has essentially no impact on either math or reading achievement. Nearly every estimate is close to zero in magnitude and in all growth models is slightly negative. The primary conclusion coming out of these models is that failure to control for school-level unobserved heterogeneity leads to estimates that largely over-state the impact of YRS on student achievement. This is consistent with the hypothesis that year-round schools are placed in high-growth and possibly high achieving areas.

Homework is wasted? Are we wasting our children’s time by giving them more homework?

Following an identification strategy that allows us to largely eliminate unobserved student and teacher traits, we examine the effect of homework on math, science, English and history test scores for eighth grade students in the United States. Noting that failure to control for these effects yields selection biases on the estimated effect of homework, we find that math homework has a large and statistically meaningful effect on math test scores throughout our sample. However, additional homework in science, English and history are shown to have little to no impact on their respective test scores.

It is a sad story indeed when the astonishing linguistic incapacity of U.S. military forces and intelligence organizations is contrasted with the abundance of American civilians who speak all known foreign languages, and the brilliant record of foreign-language education in the U.S. Army and Navy, which used to produce as many good Chinese and Japanese speakers as they wanted by selecting for natural aptitude in the recruit pool, giving them a year of intensive courses (eight hours a day, six days a week), and quickly sending away those who failed to keep up with their classes. Nothing prevents the military from doing the same for Arabic, Persian and, say, Azeri now, except for an unwillingness to invest in the future, and probably a lack of disciplined volunteers willing to learn a language eight hours a day, six days a week, for a whole year or more.

http://www.harpers.org/archive/2007/02/0081384

Public school teachers are in much the same position as prison wardens. Wardens’ main concern is to keep the prisoners on the premises. They also need to keep them fed, and as far as possible prevent them from killing one another. Beyond that, they want to have as little to do with the prisoners as possible, so they leave them to create whatever social organization they want. From what I’ve read, the society that the prisoners create is warped, savage, and pervasive, and it is no fun to be at the bottom of it….If I could go back and give my thirteen year old self some advice, the main thing I’d tell him would be to stick his head up and look around. I didn’t really grasp it at the time, but the whole world we lived in was as fake as a Twinkie. Not just school, but the entire town. Why do people move to suburbia? To have kids! So no wonder it seemed boring and sterile. The whole place was a giant nursery, an artificial town created explicitly for the purpose of breeding children. And as for the schools, they were just holding pens within this fake world. Officially the purpose of schools is to teach kids. In fact their primary purpose is to keep kids locked up in one place for a big chunk of the day so adults can get things done. And I have no problem with this: in a specialized industrial society, it would be a disaster to have kids running around loose. What bothers me is not that the kids are kept in prisons, but that (a) they aren’t told about it, and (b) the prisons are run mostly by the inmates. Kids are sent off to spend six years memorizing meaningless facts in a world ruled by a caste of giants who run after an oblong brown ball, as if this were the most natural thing in the world. And if they balk at this surreal cocktail, they’re called misfits.

–Paul Graham, Why Nerds Are Unpopular

# Spaced repetition

Spaced repetition is not in use in school systems except accidentally or by primitive experience & intuition. Even though tremendous amounts of lower education is memorization (and some areas - like foreign languages - are almost entirely based on memorization), and the principle has been scientifically proven for literally centuries.1

# School hours

That school schedules are so perverse in a way obvious to any teenager - the people who need to get up last have to get up first - is one of the best proofs, I feel, that quality education is only a secondary goal of public education.

http://www.overcomingbias.com/2010/02/do-larks-repress-owls.html#comment-443100

Ask any current college student: many dread 8 AM classes. If you’re a lark, try looking in on some 8 AM classes at 8:30 or 9 or so, and see how many of the students struggle to pay attention or stay awake. You don’t see very many faces flat on the desk in afternoon classes… http://www.overcomingbias.com/2010/02/do-larks-repress-owls.html#comment-443555

In my school, there were two offered justifications for the obscene 7:40 starting time:

1. Students have to travel for extracurricular activities, such as sports, scheduled in the early afternoon. If the school starts later, they have to miss class to participate in them.

2. Students prefer to leave school earlier so they can get to their jobs.

Both prompt a big WTF from me.

http://www.overcomingbias.com/2010/02/do-larks-repress-owls.html#comment-443109

monophasic sleep highly artificial: http://www.historycooperative.org/journals/ahr/106.2/ah000343.html

Stampi quote on primitives not monophasic: http://blog.myzeo.com/forum/polyphasic-sleep-experiment-discussion/evolutionary-sleep-more-polyphasic/

we revert to biphasic naturally: http://jdmoyer.com/2010/03/04/sleep-experiment-a-month-with-no-artificial-light/

hard to make up deficits: http://www.futurepundit.com/archives/007378.html

kids who go to bed late the smarter ones: http://www.quora.com/Are-night-owls-generally-more-intelligent-than-other-people (so early school hurts those who could benefit most from schooling) http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-1173028/How-night-owls-cleverer-richer-people-rise-early.html http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/S0191-8869(99)00054-9

lack of sleep harmful: http://ngm.nationalgeographic.com/print/2010/05/sleep/max-text

later school hours help grades: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/education/8579951.stm drop out rates, savings (!), easy schedule change, parental support etc.: http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=6896471 and help mood, health, and sleep quality: http://archpedi.ama-assn.org/cgi/content/short/164/7/608?rss=1

correlation: >9 hours is best for 6-7-year-olds? http://dialnet.unirioja.es/servlet/articulo?codigo=3425319

TODO: what was on http://blog.myzeo.com/back-to-school-sleep-college-edition/ ?

By the time they enter sixth grade, many middle-class children sleep so little during the school week that daytime drowsiness may compromise their ability to pay attention and learn, a new study suggests.

This situation derives from a combination of factors, say psychologist Avi Sadeh of Tel Aviv University in Israel and his colleagues. Children tend to fall asleep at increasingly later times as they move from the second to the sixth grade, while continuing to be awakened at the same time for school.

Our study suggests that the sleep behavior of the older children may not be in accordance with their physiological needs, they contend. These children are thus at risk of being chronically sleep deprived.

What’s more, Sadeh’s team finds that nearly 20 percent of kids in the second, fourth, and sixth grades have serious sleep problems that typically aren’t perceived by either the children or their parents. In the study, sleep disturbances consisted of regularly being awake for at least 10 percent of the night after falling asleep or waking three or more times during the night for at least 5 minutes each time.

Children fell asleep at later times as they got older regardless of their supposed bedtimes. Sixth graders drifted into slumber slightly more than 1 hour after second graders did and about 25 minutes after fourth graders did, the researchers report in the May DEVELOPMENTAL PSYCHOLOGY. Sleep quality, such as the number of night wakenings and length of sleep periods, was similar at all grades.

shallow sleep linked with worse glucose processing & diabetes: http://www.sciencenews.org/view/generic/id/9302/title/Sleep_disruption_and_glucose_processing

little sleep linked with obesity (elementary school): http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m1200/is_20_172/ai_n27458933/ http://www.sciencenews.org/view/generic/id/9119/title/Too_little_sleep_may_fatten_kids

bad sleep (sleep apnea) linked with low IQ & grades in kids: http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m1200/is_11_170/ai_n26705324/ http://www.sciencenews.org/view/generic/id/7729/title/Sleep_disorder_tied_to_brain_ills_in_kids

A modest but constant sleep shortage undermines alertness and other mental faculties in a matter of days, according to according to a report in the March 15 Sleep. Moreover, people who get by on a modest sleep deficit are often not aware of their shrinking thinking capabilities and don’t feel particularly drowsy drowsy, say Hans P.A. Van Dongen http://www.thefreelibrary.com/Sleep+debt+exacts+deceptive+cost.+%28Behavior%29.-a0100110931 http://www.sciencenews.org/view/generic/id/3735/title/Sleep_debt_exacts_deceptive_cost

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. … The differences in start time across schools is generated by bus scheduling concerns, while the differences within schools are driven by population growth. … I ﬁnd that a one hour later start time increases standardized test scores on both math and reading test by three percentile points. Since start times may be correlated with other determinants of test scores, I also estimate the effect using only variation in start times within schools over time and ﬁnd a two percentile point improvement. The effect of start times on academic performance is robust to different specifications and sources of variation. The magnitude of the effect is similar to the difference in test scores for one additional year of parental education.

The impact of later start times on test scores is persistent. Conditional on a high school ﬁxed effect, a one hour later start time in grade eight is associated with an increase in test scores in grade ten similar in magnitude to the increase in grade eight. … The impact of start times is greatest in grade eight (who are more likely to have begun puberty than those in the sixth or seventh grade). … Students who begin school later have fewer absences and spend more time on homework each week. … Over the seven years examined in this paper, [this school district] grew from 20,530 student enrolled in twenty-two middle schools … to 27,686 students enrolled in twenty-eight middle schools

https://netfiles.uiuc.edu/fedward2/www/Edwards%20Start%20Times.pdf

practical challenges to shifting school times: http://www.icsd.k12.ny.us/redistricting/startend.html review of research: http://www.icsd.k12.ny.us/redistricting/startend/starttimesummary.pdf

overview: http://www.icsd.k12.ny.us/redistricting/startend/starttimesummary.pdf list of some schools who have changed: http://www.icsd.k12.ny.us/redistricting/startend/StartTimeChanges-v3.pdf

Attendance rates for all students in grades 9, 10, and 11 in the district have shown to have improved statistically significantly in the years from 1995-2000. The greatest rate of improvement is for 9th grade students, where the daily rate of attendance went from 83%-87% after the later start was initiated. The probability that this would occur by chance is less than one in a thousand.

…Given the numerous obstacles to obtaining clean data, it required nearly a year of time to conduct this analysis. The ultimate findings from the analysis of the letter grades earned by students in grades 9-12 in the three years prior to the change (starting time of 7:15 AM) versus the grades earned in the three years after the change (starting time of 8:40 AM) reveal a slight improvement in grades earned overall, but the differences were not statistically significant. A finding from this time-consuming and intensive data analysis is that the difficulty of making comparisons and subsequent judgments is likely to be a problem for any district attempting to judge the efficacy of a change using the letter grades earned as the primary indicator.

…Minneapolis high school students continue to get an hour’s more sleep each school night or obtain five more hours’ sleep per week than students whose high schools begin an hour earlier than Minneapolis schools. This finding supports the medical researchers’ finding that nearly all teenagers become sleepy at about 11:00 PM. It also lays to rest the fears and expectations that a later start would mean that Minneapolis students would just end up staying up an hour later on school nights.

[abstract] 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.

…[page 10] Before the later school start time was instituted, many parents and administrators expressed a fear that students would merely use the later morning start time as an excuse to stay up an hour later on school nights. The data, however, show that this did not happen. Students continued to go to bed at the same time (approximately 15 minutes before 11 p.m.). This finding makes sense from a biological perspective, as it is likely that nighttime circadian rhythms were contributing to feelings of sleepiness around 11 p.m, regardless of what time the students woke up in the morning. Minneapolis students slept about an hour more each school night (due to the later school start time) than their peers whose school began at 7:30 a.m.

…[page 12] The students whose high schools started at 8:30 a.m. or later reported statistically significant less depressive feelings on those questions than did the early start students (p ranged from < .05 to < .001.)

Similarly, scores on questions measuring daytime sleepiness, the struggle to stay awake in class, and sleepiness while doing homework all showed statistically significant better outcomes for the students whose school day started later. For example, students in late-start schools reported being less likely to arrive late to class because of oversleeping, or to fall asleep in a morning or afternoon class, or to feel sleepy while taking a test. They also reported statistically significant fewer feelings of sleepiness when at a computer, reading, or studying.

…Many of the benefits of the later start time were similar for both urban and suburban students, with their actual scores being nearly identical despite the differences in their local economic conditions. Again, if the need for and the benefits of more sleep are a biological phenomenon of the human body during the adolescent years, then one would expect those kinds of results, which are not related in any way to socioeconomic status.

Up All Night: The science of sleeplessness, New Yorker:

According to Roenneberg, age also has a big influence on chronotype. Toddlers tend to be larks, which is why they drive their parents crazy by getting up at sunrise. Teen-agers are owls, which is why high schools are filled with students who look (and act) like zombies. Roenneberg advocates scheduling high-school classes to begin later in the day, and he cites studies showing that schools that delay the start of first period see performance, motivation, and attendance all increase. (A school district in Minnesota that switched to a later schedule found that the average S.A.T. scores for the top ten per cent of the class rose by more than two hundred points, a result that the head of the College Board called truly flabbergasting.) But, Roenneberg notes, teachers and school administrators generally resist the change, preferring to believe that the problem is insoluble.

Changing Times: Findings From the First Longitudinal Study of Later High School Start Times

Between childhood and adulthood, we go through puberty and adolescence. While the end of puberty is defined as the point of cessation of bone growth (epiphyseal closure; girls: 16 y; boys: 17.5 y), the end of adolescence (∼19 y) is defined less clearly, by a mixture of physical, psychological, social, and mental measures [[1]]. One conspicuous property of adolescence is the apparently unsaturable capacity to stay up late and to sleep in. Investigating chronotypes we observed an abrupt change in the timing of sleep at around the age of 20 and propose this change as the first biological marker of the end of adolescence.

http://www.cell.com/current-biology/abstract/S0960-9822%2804%2900928-5

Most studies show a fairly consistent 9 1/4 hours sleep requirement, says Emsellem. So there’s a huge gap between what they’re getting on an average school night and what they require.

An adolescent’s biology bears some of the blame for this sleep problem. As teens progress through puberty, unprecedented growth occurs in body and brain that requires a lot of sleep.

In addition, something else is changing: The very brain chemical that makes one feel sleepy - a hormone called melatonin - is released later and later in the evening as teens get older.

Because of this shift in the onset of melatonin, teenagers don’t feel sleepy until later at night, says Stephanie Crowley, a sleep researcher at Rush University Medical Center in Chicago.

A 16- or 17-year-old might be able to stay awake later compared to a 10-year-old who will likely fall asleep on the couch watching TV, Crowley explains.

…But this sleep-wake pattern makes things worse for the teen, not better, Emsellem says.

Even if you catch up by sleeping in late on your weekend mornings, she says, by doing so, it makes it harder for you to fall asleep by 10 or 10:30 on Sunday night. And you start all over again, sleep restricted.

http://www.npr.org/2011/05/16/136275658/late-to-bed-early-to-rise-makes-a-teen-sleepy

The 18 studies were performed in different contexts. Five studies were done only on school days,53,58,60-62 3 studies were performed on week ends or during summer time,54,52,59 and 2 studies included both school days and nonschool days.57,64 Eight studies did not specify the time of the year.

…In children and adolescents, the relation between age and TST [total sleep time] was moderated by the recording methods; studies that used in-laboratory PSG found significantly larger correlations than those using actigraphy (z statistic for contrast: -7.92; P < .0001). Similarly, the relation between age and TST was moderated by the time of recording. Studies that took place during school days (z statistic for contrast: -7.60; P < .0001) had larger correlations than those that were done on nonschool days. The results showed that TST decreased with age only when recordings took place on school days. On nonschool days, TST remained the same from childhood to the end of adolescence.

In response to recent sleep studies with students, Battle Ground schools will start and end the school day 30 minutes later beginning this fall. Multiple experts and studies show teenagers need more sleep at night to be successful learners in the morning. Kyla Wahlstrom, director of the Center for Applied Research and Education Improvement in St. Paul, Minn., says, From the onset of puberty until late teen years, the brain chemical melatonin, which is responsible for sleepiness, is secreted from approximately 11 p.m. to 8 a.m.

http://www.kptv.com/story/15084456/battle-ground-schools-let-students-sleep-in

Recent sleep research finds that many adolescents are sleep-deprived because of both early school start times and changing sleep patterns during the teen years. This study identifies the causal effect of school start time on academic achievement by using two policy changes in the daily schedule at the US Air Force Academy along with the randomized placement of freshman students to courses and instructors. Results show that starting the school day 50 minutes later has a significant positive effect on student achievement, which is roughly equivalent to raising teacher quality by one standard deviation.

A’s from Zzzz’s? The Causal Effect of School Start Time on the Academic Achievement of Adolescents

To Study or to Sleep? The Academic Costs of Extra Studying at the Expense of Sleep, Gillen-O’Neel et al 2012:

This longitudinal study examined how nightly variations in adolescents’ study and sleep time are associated with academic problems on the following day. Participants (N=535, 9th grade Mage=14.88) completed daily diaries every day for 14 days in 9th, 10th, and 12th grades. Results suggest that regardless of how much a student generally studies each day, if that student sacrifices sleep time in order to study more than usual, he or she will have more trouble understanding material taught in class and be more likely to struggle on an assignment or test the following day. Because students are increasingly likely to sacrifice sleep time for studying in the latter years of high school, this negative dynamic becomes increasingly prevalent over time.

…Socializing with peers and working for pay, for example, both increase across the course of high school (Shanahan & Flaherty, 2001; Wight, Price, Bianchi, & Hunt, 2009). As they advance through high school, adolescents’ academic obligations also intensify and often require more time and effort (Eccles, et al., 1993). As a result, many high school students end up with irregular study schedules, often facing nights in which they need to spend substantially more time than usual studying or completing school work.

• Shanahan, M. J., & Flaherty, B. P. (2001). Dynamic patterns of time use in adolescence. Child Development, 72, 385-401
• Wight, V. R., Price, J., Bianchi, S. M., & Hunt, B. R. (2009). The time use of teenagers. Social Science Research, 38, 792-809
• Eccles, J. S., Midgley, C., Wigfield, A., Buchanan, C. M., Reuman, D., Flanagan, C., et al. (1993). Development during adolescence: The impact of stage-environment fit on young adolescents’ experiences in schools and in families. American Psychologist, 48, 90-101. doi: 10.1037/0003-066x.48.2.90

…In high school, sacrificing sleep to study may be especially problematic because, in general, high-school age adolescents are chronically sleep-deprived (Carskadon, 1990). Although the optimal amount of sleep varies somewhat across individuals, most adolescents need just over 9 hours of sleep each night (Wolfson & Carskadon, 1998). Only about 9% of high school students, however, sleep for at least the requisite 9 hours per night (National Sleep Foundation, 2006). One-fourth of high school students get a borderline amount of sleep (between 8 and 9 hours per night), and the vast majority of high school students (62%) get insufficient sleep (less than 8 hours per night; National Sleep Foundation, 2006).

• Carskadon, M. A. (1990). Patterns of sleep and sleepiness in adolescents. Pediatrician, 17, 5-12.
• Wolfson, A. R., & Carskadon, M. A. (1998). Sleep schedules and daytime functioning in adolescents. Child Development, 69(4), 875-887. doi: 10.2307/1132351
• National Sleep Foundation. (2006). Sleep in America poll. Retrieved February 18, 2011, from http://www.sleepfoundation.org

…Across the course of high school, the biologically-needed hours of sleep remain constant, yet the average amount that students sleep declines (Carskadon, Acebo, & Jenni, 2004). In 9th grade, the average adolescent sleeps for 7.6 hours per night, and this time decreases to 7.3 hours in 10th grade, 7.0 hours in 11th grade, and 6.9 hours in 12th grade (National Sleep Foundation, 2006). Thus, adolescents start high school sleeping for fewer hours than they need, and this sleep deprivation worsens over the course of high school (Fukuda & Ishihara, 2001).

• Carskadon, M. A., Acebo, C., & Jenni, O. G. (2004). Regulation of adolescent sleep: Implications for behavior. Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences, 1021, 276-291. doi: 10.1196/annals.1308.032
• Fukuda, K., & Ishihara, K. (2001). Age-related changes of sleeping pattern during adolescence. Psychiatry and Clinical Neurosciences, 55, 231-232

…this troublesome association becomes even stronger in 12th grade. The association between [more] study time and [more] academic problems occurs regardless of whether or not students have a test coming up, and therefore, is not simply an artifact of studying for and taking a difficult test. Although we expected that nights of extra studying might not be as effective as students suppose (Pilcher & Walters, 1997), it was somewhat surprising that nights of extra studying would be associated with worse academic functioning the following day. This surprising finding, however, made more sense once we examined extra studying in the context of adolescents’ sleep. As other studies have found, our results indicate that extra time spent studying cuts into adolescents’ sleep on a daily basis (Adam et al., 2007). This tradeoff between studying and sleeping occurs in 9th grade and becomes more dramatic in the latter years of high school. Our mediation results suggest that the reduced sleep that tends to occur on nights of extra studying is what accounts for the increase in academic problems that occurs the next day.

• Adam, E. K., Snell, E. K., & Pendry, P. (2007). Sleep timing and quantity in ecological and family context: A nationally representative time-diary study. Journal of Family Psychology, 21, 4-19. doi: 10.1037/0893-3200.21.1.4
• Adam, E. K., Snell, E. K., & Pendry, P. (2007). Sleep timing and quantity in ecological and family context: A nationally representative time-diary study. Journal of Family Psychology, 21, 4-19. doi: 10.1037/0893-3200.21.1.4

Total Sleep Time Severely Drops during Adolescence, Leger et al 2012: g > Data from 9,251 children aged 11 to 15 years-old, 50.7% of which were boys, as part of the cross-national study 2011 HBSC were analyzed…A serious drop of TST [total sleep time] was observed between 11 yo and 15 yo, both during the schooldays (9 hours 26 minutes vs. 7 h 55 min.; p<0.001) and at a lesser extent during week-ends (10 h 17 min. vs. 9 h 44 min.; p<0.001). Sleep deprivation concerned 16.0% of children aged of 11 yo vs. 40.5% of those of 15 yo (p<0.001). Too short sleep was reported by 2.6% of the 11 yo vs. 24.6% of the 15 yo (p<0.001).

Adolescent sleep and fluid intelligence performance, Johnstone et al 2010; abstract:

Fluid intelligence involves novel problem-solving and may be susceptible to poor sleep. This study examined relationships between adolescent sleep, fluid intelligence, and academic achievement. Participants were 217 adolescents (42% male) aged 13 to 18 years (mean age, 14.9 years; SD = 1.0) in grades 9-11. Fluid intelligence was predicted to mediate the relationship between adolescent sleep and academic achievement. Students completed online questionnaires of self-reported sleep, fluid intelligence (Letter Sets and Number Series), and self-reported grades. Total sleep time was not significantly related to fluid intelligence nor academic achievement (both p>0.05); however, sleep difficulty (e.g. difficulty initiating sleep, unrefreshing sleep) was related to both (P < 0.05)…

VB high schools start 75-80 minutes earlier than Chesapeake’s. We hypothesized that VB teens would manifest a higher crash rate than Chesapeake teens…For VB and Chesapeake, teen drivers’ crash rates in 2008 were 65.8/1000 and 46.6/1000 (p<0.001), respectively, and in 2007 were 71.2/1000 and 55.6/1000. Teen drivers’ crash peaks in the morning occurred one hour earlier in VB than Chesapeake, consistent with school commute time. Congestion data for VB and Chesapeake did not explain the different crash rates….Based on our own 2008 results, we estimate that 16 crashes could be prevented yearly if the crash rate in Virginia Beach approximated the rate in Chesapeake…We did not assess crash severity. Future studies might explore whether the earlier high school start times in Virginia Beach were also related to vehicular crashes marked by increased injury or mortality rates.

…Early high school start times could contribute to insufficient sleep in teenagers10 and increased motor vehicle crashes. One study found start time to be the main determinant of wake times in adolescents.11 A recent study revealed that a 30-min delay in high school start time was associated with 45 min of additional sleep on weekday nights and reduced sleepiness.12…previous data indicate that earlier rise times in teens are not correlated with earlier bedtimes.3…One recent study by Danner and Phillips did demonstrate that delaying high school start times reduced vehicle crashes in teens. In Lexington Kentucky, a 1-h delay in high school start times was associated with a 16.5% decline in teen crashes in the ensuing 2 years.13 3,10-13

• . Carskadon MA, Wolfson AR, Acebo C, Tzischinsky O, Seifer R. Adolescent sleep patterns, circadian timing, and sleepiness at a transition to early school days. Sleep 1998;21:871-81
• 0. Hansen M, Janssen I, Schiff A, Zee PC, Dubocovich ML. The impact of school daily schedule on adolescent sleep. Pediatrics 2005;115:1555-61.
• 1. Knutson KL, Lauderdale, DS. Sociodemographic and behavioral predictors of bed time and wake time among US adolescents aged 15 to 17 years. J Pediatr 2009;154:426-30.
• 2. Owens JA, Belon K, Moss P. Impact of delaying school start time on adolescent, sleep, mood and behavior. Arch Pediatr Adolesc Med 2010;164:608-14.
• 3. Danner F, Phillips B. Adolescent sleep, school start times, and teen motor vehicle crashes. J Clin Sleep Med 2008;4:533-5.

TODO: how many such teen crashes are fatal?

Sample. The sample comprised 272 students attending 9th and 10th grades at five German high schools. Data was also obtained from 132 parents of these students. Method. Students were assessed in class via self-report questionnaires and a standardized cognitive test. Parents filled out a questionnaire at home. The incremental validity of chronotype was investigated using hierarchical linear regression. Validity of the chronotype questionnaire was assessed by correlating student ratings of their chronotype with behavioural data on sleep, food intake, and drug consumption and with parent ratings of chronotype.

Results. Eveningness was a significant (negative) predictor of overall grade point average (GPA), math–science GPA, and language GPA, after cognitive ability, conscientiousness, need for cognition, achievement motivation, and gender were held constant. Validity evidence for the chronotype measure was established by significant correlations with parent-ratings and behavioural data.

…Recent research has documented statistically meaningful relationships between chronotype and academic performance and demonstrated that eveningness and academic performance are negatively related, whereas morningness and academic performance are positively related (e.g., Giannotti, Cortesi, Sebastiani, & Ottaviano, 2002; Kirby & Kirby, 2006; Randler & Frech, 2006; for a meta-analysis see Preckel, Lipnevich, Schneider, & Roberts, 2011)…Children usually have elevated morningness relative to other age groups. During adolescence a delay of phase preference is usually observed (Carskadon, Wolfson, Acebo, Tzischinsky, & Seifer, 1998; Crowley, Acebo, & Carskadon, 2007) reaching a maximum in lateness at around the age of 20 (Roenneberg et al., 2004). After the age of 50, studies document a fast increase in morningness (Diaz-Morales & Sorroche, 2008; Roenneberg et al., 2007). In regards to gender, it appears that women tend to have more morning characteristics than men (see Kerkhof, 1985; Tankova, Adan, & Buela-Casal, 1994 for reviews). Thus, a recent meta-analysis suggests a weak but significant effect of gender on morningness consistent with this assertion (Randler, 2007).

…Researchers consistently show that eveningness and academic performance are strongly and inversely related, whereas morningness and performance in school are positively related. These patterns hold for both school children (Giannotti, Cortesi, & Ottaviano, 1997; Giannotti et al., 2002; Randler & Frech, 2009) and university students (e.g., Besoluk, 2011; Besoluk, Onder, & Deveci, 2011; Randler & Frech, 2006). Preckel et al.’s (2011) meta-analysis also found small but significant and homogenous correlations between morningness and academic achievement (r = .16, 13 studies) and eveningness and academic achievement (r = −.14, 6 studies).

…Students with a proclivity towards eveningness are likely to collect sleep debts over the week (Gau & Soong, 2003; Gau et al., 2004): Students with a proclivity towards eveningness go to bed later than students with a proclivity towards morningness but they all have to get up at the same time due to the school schedule. Therefore, students with a proclivity towards eveningness report greater daytime sleepiness, which is by itself associated with lower school achievement (Kirby & Kirby, 2006; Meijer, 2008).

…Klein (2004) investigated 850 seventh to ninth grade students in Israel and found a gradual increase for the level of academic performance from the morning to the afternoon hours. Similarly, Wahlstrom (2002) conducted a 4-year longitudinal study of the impact of changing start time in seven comprehensive high schools from 7:20 a.m. to 8:40 a.m., without changing the length of the school day. The study revealed that students gained an hour’s more sleep each school night, with improvements related to daytime sleepiness and attendance. Grades improved, but not significantly. School districts in other US states have implemented similar start time changes, with similar and consistently positive outcomes (Fairfax County School Board Transportation Task Force, 2008). However, starting school later is often not possible due to the organization of the work life in our society and concerns related to student participation in extracurricular activities.

Extra hour in bed boosts pupils exam results’: A school experiment that allowed pupils an extra hour in bed has boosted exam results and slashed absenteeism, The Telegraph 21 Mar 2010 (TODO followup):

The usual 9am start for lessons at Monkseaton High School, North Tyneside, was pushed back to 10am as part of the trial…The data are only preliminary but show lateness has dropped eight per cent and long-term absence 27 per cent because of the changes to the start of the school day. Our GCSE results in maths and English in January are significantly improved on the scores in January 2009, Paul Kelley, the headmaster, told The Sunday Times…Prof Foster and other academics found that teenagers have a biological predisposition to go to bed late and get up late, and may not begin to function fully until 10am, two to four hours later than adults. The research also suggests that the most difficult lessons should take place in the afternoon, when pupils will be at their most alert.

Other countries with the most sleep-deprived youngsters were New Zealand, Saudi Arabia, Australia, England, Ireland and France. High-performing Finland is also among the most lacking in sleep…The researchers uncovered regional trends that bucked expectations. Asian countries are the highest-performing in maths tests - and Mr Minnich says this has often been associated with long hours and cramming in after-school classes. One would assume that they would be extremely tired, he said. And yet when we look at the sleep factor for them, they don’t necessarily seem to be suffering from as much sleep deprivation as the other countries.…There are also big changes as pupils get older. Younger pupils in South Korea have among the lowest levels of sleep deprivation in the world, but in secondary school they have some of the worst problems.

So what are the facts about teenage slumber, and how should society adjust to these needs? The biology of human sleep timing, like that of other mammals, changes as we age. This has been shown in many studies. As puberty begins, bedtimes and waking times get later. This trend continues until 19.5 years in women and 21 in men. Then it reverses. At 55 we wake at about the time we woke prior to puberty. On average this is two hours earlier than adolescents. This means that for a teenager, a 7 a.m. alarm call is the equivalent of a 5 a.m. start for people in their 50s. Precisely why this is so is unclear, but the shifts correlate with hormonal changes at puberty and the decline in those hormones as we age. However, biology is only part of the problem. Additional factors include a more relaxed attitude to bedtimes by parents, a general disregard for the importance of sleep, and access to TVs, DVDs, PCs, gaming devices, cellphones, and so on, all of which promote alertness and eat into time available for sleep.

…Mary Carskadon at Brown University, who is a pioneer in the area of adolescent sleep, has shown that teenagers need about nine hours a night to maintain full alertness and academic performance. My own recent observations at a U.K. school in Liverpool suggested many were getting just five hours on a school night. Unsurprisingly, teachers reported students dozing in class. Evidence that sleep is important is overwhelming. Elegant research has demonstrated its critical role in memory consolidation and our ability to generate innovative solutions to complex problems. Sleep disruption increases the level of the stress hormone cortisol. Impulsive behaviors, lack of empathy, sense of humor, and mood are similarly affected.

1. It was discovered and published in 1885, so that makes it 3 centuries old.