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Research by Brian A. Jacob quoted in Muskegon Chronicle article on school start times

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

The Muskegon Chronicle reported on a study co-authored by Brian A. Jacob that suggested pushing back middle school and high school start times would improve student performance.

The Hamilton Project, a Brookings Institution study Jacob co-authored with Jonah E. Rockoff of the Columbia School of Business, encourages schools to make start times a "prominent part of the conversation on how to raise student achievement."

"As any parent knows, it is very difficult to wake a sleeping teenager," Jacob and Rockoff wrote. "Not only is it difficult to rouse them early in the morning, there is mounting evidence that it is also difficult to educate them early in the day."

Jacob and Rockoff studied a district in North Carolina where math and reading scores improved after students began attending school an hour later due to a busing conflict.

The study found improved performance could translate into lifetime earning gains of $17,500 per student, with disadvantaged students benefiting most from the later start.

Among the mentioned barriers to a later start time were a potential backlash from parents, conflicts with extracurricular activities and busing logistics.

Jacob and Rockoff proposed the U.S. Department of Education offer grants as an incentive for districts to start later.

Later start times are "'low-hanging fruit' that have the potential to increase student achievement at relatively low cost," Jacob and Rockoff wrote.