On April 25, the N.J. Department of Education (NJDOE) released its report on later school start times. The report was completed following the enactment of a law that required the NJDOE to study and make recommendations on the issue.
As part of its investigation of later school start times, the NJDOE convened a group of stakeholders, including John Burns, counsel in NJSBA’s government relations department, to examine the issues involved in creating later start times in middle schools and high schools. The study group was charged with making recommendations on the viability of later school start times. The report made the following recommendations:
- School start times should not be mandated by the New Jersey Legislature or the NJDOE. Any decision to pursue later school start times must be determined solely by local school districts and must be driven by locally-determined situations, conditions, and needs. Given the myriad characteristics, factors, and variables that distinguish school districts and schools from one another, communities should not be confronted with a “one-size fits all” school start time mandate. The study group does, however, strongly recommend that school districts carefully review the issues attendant to later start times for middle schools and high schools.
- The study group has determined that there is a sufficient number of middle schools and high schools currently implementing a later start time for the NJDOE to obtain ample implementation information without conducting a formal pilot study.
- NJDOE should spend its time and resources gathering and providing information from districts/schools already implementing later start times and providing it to educators and families to guide their decision-making and implementation.
- The NJDOE should publicize both this report, as well as its accompanying research on its website, so that parents and educators are informed about the negative impact of chronic sleep deprivation on adolescents.