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Early to rise? The effect of daily start times on academic performance

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  • Edwards, Finley

Abstract

Local school districts often stagger daily start times for their schools in order to reduce busing costs. This paper uses data on all middle school students in Wake County, NC from 1999 to 2006 to identify the causal effect of daily start times on academic performance. Using variation in start times within schools over time, the effect is a two percentile point gain in math test scores – roughly fourteen percent of the black–white test score gap. I find similar results for reading scores and using variation in start times across schools. The effect is stronger for students in the lower end of the distribution of test scores. I find evidence supporting increased sleep as a mechanism through which start times affect test scores. Later start times compare favorably on cost grounds to other education interventions which result in similar test score gains.

Suggested Citation

  • Edwards, Finley, 2012. "Early to rise? The effect of daily start times on academic performance," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 31(6), pages 970-983.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:ecoedu:v:31:y:2012:i:6:p:970-983
    DOI: 10.1016/j.econedurev.2012.07.006
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Alan B. Krueger, 1999. "Experimental Estimates of Education Production Functions," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 114(2), pages 497-532.
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    5. Peter Hinrichs, 2011. "When the Bell Tolls: The Effects of School Starting Times on Academic Achievement," Education Finance and Policy, MIT Press, vol. 6(4), pages 486-507, October.
    6. Dills, Angela K. & Hernández-Julián, Rey, 2008. "Course scheduling and academic performance," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 27(6), pages 646-654, December.
    7. Fügenschuh, Armin, 2009. "Solving a school bus scheduling problem with integer programming," European Journal of Operational Research, Elsevier, vol. 193(3), pages 867-884, March.
    8. Cortes Kalena E. & Bricker Jesse & Rohlfs Chris, 2012. "The Role of Specific Subjects in Education Production Functions: Evidence from Morning Classes in Chicago Public High Schools," The B.E. Journal of Economic Analysis & Policy, De Gruyter, vol. 12(1), pages 1-36, June.
    9. Scott E. Carrell & Teny Maghakian & James E. West, 2011. "A's from Zzzz's? The Causal Effect of School Start Time on the Academic Achievement of Adolescents," American Economic Journal: Economic Policy, American Economic Association, vol. 3(3), pages 62-81, August.
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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Start times; Test scores; Education production function; Middle school; Sleep;

    JEL classification:

    • I2 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education

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