Teens need an average of 9 ¼ hours of sleep every night. Our internal circadian biological clocks regulate the time periods of sleepiness and wakefulness throughout the day by having dips and rises in circadian rhythms at different times of the day. Changes to this rhythm occur during adolescence, causing teens to experience a sleep phase delay. This shift in teens’ circadian rhythms causes them to naturally feel alert later at night, making it difficult to fall asleep before 11:00 pm. Since teens in the FWPS District start school at 7 am and also have other commitments such as jobs, sports, or clubs, this sleep phase delay can make it difficult to get the sleep teens need. This sleep deprivation can influence the circadian rhythm; for teens, the strongest circadian dips tend to occur between 3:00 am-7:00 am and 2:00 pm- 5:00 pm, but the morning dip (3:00 am-7:00 am) can be even longer if teens haven’t had enough sleep, and can even last until 9:00 am-10:00 am. Since school starts at 7 am, and it is naturally difficult for teens to sleep before 11 am, teens are limited to a short time window to get 9 ¼ hours of sleep. With that being said, the window between 11 pm-7 am is a maximum total of 8 hours; the actual sleeping window between those times are shortened when you have to account for the time it takes to get ready in the morning and the time it takes to travel to school. So, just based on my own getting ready and traveling times, there is about 1 hour and 10 minutes that would be taken out of our sleeping window. This makes our maximum sleeping time 6 hours and 50 minutes. This amount of sleep deprivation could very well cause circadian rhythm dips to last until 10 am, hindering our ability to focus during the first 3 hours of school, increasing grade drops which increases high school drop outs.
Here at Todd Beamer High School, we have a block schedule. This means that we have eight total classes that are split up into two separate days, and the periods are each about 1 hour and 30 minutes long. We also have three separate lunches that are 30 minutes each. Other schools in the FWPS District have six periods in one day that are only 1-hour long. As stated before, most teens’ circadian rhythm dips’ last until 10 am, this makes it difficult for teens to focus during the first few hours of school which can be 2-3 periods depending on the school. This can greatly impact students’ grades in a negative way. To fix this issue, I propose we combine some characteristics from both types of schools (block schedule and 1-hour long classes) and also apply a permanent late start for the school day. We would make school start at 10 am every day and make each period 1-hour long. This would mean 4 hours of classroom time for four different classes in one block day. If we started school at 10 am, and took out the lunch periods during school time, we would be out of school at 2:15 pm and continue days as normal; this time frame also accounts for three 5-minute periods after first, second, and third period. I also recognize that students that receive free and reduced lunch may have situations at home that are unknown and may not get food opportunities. With that being said, the lunching period would be between 9:30 am – 10 am before school starts, but is not mandatory to attend. This way students who receive free lunch will still be able to receive food. Shortening the periods to one hour each is possible because other schools in the FWPS District have one hour classes with six classes a day. If all schools converted to block schedules they would be able to have eight total classes with the same teaching time other schools are already used to. This would be a compromise between all the schools in the FWPS District using the block schedule and incorporating one hour long classes to give students more class options and opportunities while being able to remain focused from the extra time in the morning used to wake up, eat, and get your brain ready for more learning.
The main goal for this policy is to make learning more convenient for students, improve focus, improve attendance, and overall, improve grades. There are also rivals in every situation, some groups that would probably oppose would be teachers that feel that they have less time to teach in the classroom, or lunch staff that would not want to start working and hour earlier than normal. Some groups that support the policy would be students who feel they will be better in school due to the extra time in the morning and more time outside of school to do chores, homework, sports, and to work jobs. Other groups who would support the policy would be teachers who will have more focused students that are eager and ready to learn, and parents who will have more time to spend with their children in the morning, and will have kids who have more time to stay on top of their school work and chores. Along with Rivals come pros and cons. Some advantages of the policy would be that students will be more focused during class time, students will have more opportunity to stay on top of their work and could use the morning hours they usually have in school as a study period if they absolutely need it, students who do better in school are less likely to drop out and less high school drop outs will reduce crime rates, and students will be less persuaded to skip classes because school days are shorter and not so early in the morning and easier to last through. Some disadvantages would be that teachers (from some schools) will have less time to teach in the classroom and students would have less face-to-face time with their teachers for extra help or guidance.
Every policy needs a plan. This policy’s plan for implementation will be to start petitioning and to cooperate with superintendent, Tammy Campbell, of the FWPS District to make corrections, as she sees fit, and come up with a beneficial plan to put into action. The plan for enforcement will be to post the new changes to the FWPS District website and send letters to all families who are currently in the system and are enrolled at any of the schools in the district. After this policy is put into action, we can measure success by seeing the changes statistically in students’ attendance and grades and can change the policy to better the main aspect of the policy, improving grades of students.