District/School: Douglas County School District
Location: Castle Rock, CO
Research Methodology: School Start Times Survey
As the third largest district in the state, Douglas County School District’s teachers and staff are leaders of public education in Colorado and prioritize implementing innovative educational approaches tailored to their students. A Douglas County School District (DCSD) Board of Education resolution called for the exploration of later school start times for secondary students. As part of this exploration, DCSD needed to gather feedback from diverse representation of affected employee groups, board committees, and other stakeholders, specifically parents.
“As part of our Board resolution, we wanted to hear from all stakeholders—students, parents and guardians, and staff—to learn how they feel about our current school start times and any concerns they might have about shifting to later start times,” said Matt Reynolds, Chief Assessment and Data Officer.
Hanover designed, administered, and analyzed a survey that assessed key stakeholders’ perceptions on potential changes to school start times and measured the effects of potential alternative start times.
- What are stakeholders’ opinions on the current and proposed school start times?
- What are parents’ perceptions of the potential impact on their/their child’s school experience if school start times shift?
- How would various proposed changes affect transportation, extracurricular activities, academics, work hours, and family obligations?
“DCSD wanted to assess how our current school start times are impacting our students’ sleep, readiness, mood, and emotional health. The insights from Hanover’s school start time study really impressed the Board; we have started to develop a strategic plan and the information provided from a global perspective is really helpful in the development of our strategic plan.”
Chief Assessment and Data Officer
Hanover designed, administered, and analyzed a survey distributed to students, parents, and staff members to collect information on their perceptions of potential school start time changes. The survey assessed areas such as stakeholder knowledge of how much sleep students should be getting each night per sleep expert recommendations; the impact of current start times on students’ after-school activities, academic performance, and health; and how parents and guardians feel later school start times would affect transportation and child care.
Hanover’s survey found that the majority of respondents (55%) support changing school start times, with 75% of students believing later start times would positively impact their physical and emotional well-being. While students themselves are more likely to support changing school start times, parents and staff are more likely to think the current school start times work more advantageously for students. However, all stakeholders feel the current schedule is more convenient for students to participate in after-school activities and for parents and staff to coordinate after-work duties and transportation.
Because student and parent/staff opinions differed on which start time is most beneficial, Hanover recommends that DCSD continue to explore which school start times would best support both students’ well-being and their after-school duties and activities.
Informed by Hanover’s stakeholder survey, Douglas County School District plans to:
- Continue to investigate which start times would be most beneficial for students’ well-being and participation in after-school activities
- Consider the development of knowledge sharing tools on both sleep study research for students and the survey results to help stakeholders learn how to best support students’ health
- Work with after-care providers to assess staffing needs, space, and other resources to meet a potential increase in need if school start times were adjusted