Sleepy Students

(P1) More school districts around the U.S. are HEEDING the advice of scientists who say that expecting teens to show up to class before 8 a.m. isn’t good for their health or their grades.

(P2) The Seattle school board voted last month to adopt an 8:45 a.m. start time beginning next year for all of its high schools and most of its middle schools, joining 70 districts across the nation who adopted a later start time in recent years.

(P3) The MOVEMENT still HAS A LONG WAY TO GO: There are more than 24,000 U.S. high schools.

(P4) Supporters of later start times got a BOOST last year when the American Academy of PEDIATRICS said that while starting later isn’t a PANACEA for teen health and academic problems, it can improve students’ lives in many other ways.

(P5) Research studies have shown later start times help fight SLEEP DEPRIVATION in teens, who naturally fall asleep later than their parents would like, and improve academic success, attendance, and mental health as well as cutting the number of sleep-related car accidents.

(P6) The OBSTACLES to change are mostly financial. St. Paul, Minnesota, public schools delayed the adoption of later start times for all its high school students, even after seeing great results in a PILOT PROGRAM, because of transportation issues.

(P7) The district could not OVERCOME parent complaints about earlier start times for elementary students, which were made necessary because of the new later times for high school students. It would cost St. Paul about $8 million to add more buses, explained Jackie Statum Allen, assistant director for STRATEGIC PLANNING and policy.

(P8) In Seattle, officials encountered the same resistance. Some parents of younger children objected when bus schedules were flipped and their kids were put on an earlier bus schedule for next year. Some argued that later start times will INTERFERE with after-school activities like football.

(P9) An effort to move school start times in Chicago failed because the district tried to make the change without community INPUT.

(P10) Bridget Shelton, a FRESHMAN at Seattle’s Roosevelt High School, believes the change will help get 8 hours of sleep per night instead of 6 or 7.

(P11) “I know many students that come in and are just struggling to stay awake,” she said. “Many of my friends are falling asleep in class.”

(P12) Katie Benmar, a SOPHOMORE, doesn’t think the new start time will make anything better. She expects her life will just shift one hour later — from after-school activities to dinner to homework and bed.

(P13) “I’m going to bed at midnight and waking up at six,” Benmar said of her current schedule. “I’m really tired right now.”

WORDS: 443



If you found the passage difficult to read or had problems understanding specific words or idiomatic expressions, please discuss them with your tutor. The following discussion questions should be answered in your own words and with your own arguments.

  1. Briefly summarize the content of the article in your own words.
  2. Do you think this change is necessary, or should teenagers just go to bed earlier?
  3. What activities are teenagers participating in late at night – homework, socializing, video games?
  4. Did you have to ride a bus to get to school when you were a child?
  5. Are you a “morning person” or a “night person”?


What do the following expressions mean? Practice using each expression in a sentence; extra points if you can use it in conversation.

  • Have a long way to go
  • Sleep deprivation
  • Pilot program
  • Strategic planning

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