Two New Reports Look at the Impact of Educational Practices on Student Health

As the debates on standards continue, two reports look at school practices and the effect on the health of students. Examining data for school start times and time spent on homework, both reports find that schools are not implementing recommendations from key agencies.

Homework and Family Stress

In a study published in the American Journal of Family Therapy, researchers found that on average schools are not following the rule of 10 minutes of homework per grade per night. (The rule is endorsed by both the National Education Association and the National PTA.)  In fact, first and second graders had three times the recommended amount. Furthermore, homework time spikes in sixth and seventh grade and then peaks in tenth grade. High school students are only spending about hour on homework each night. 

The researchers also looked at the impact of homework on family stress. Not only did they find that it contributes to household tension, but “the case for having parental involvement at the instructional level with a child's homework appears to be outweighed by negative sociological, emotional, and educational consequences.”

Middle and High School Start Times Too Early

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reviewed middle and high school start times and found that most schools are not adhering to guidelines from the American Academy of Pediatrics to begin school no earlier than 8:30 am. “Getting enough sleep is important for students’ health, safety, and academic performance,” said Anne Wheaton, Ph.D., lead author and epidemiologist in CDC’s Division of Population Health. “Early school start times, however, are preventing many adolescents from getting the sleep they need.” 

Key findings

  • 42 states reported that 75-100 percent of the public schools in their respective states started before 8:30 AM.
  • The average start time was 8:03 AM.
  • The percentage of schools with start times of 8:30 AM or later varied greatly by state. No schools in Hawaii, Mississippi, and Wyoming started at 8:30 AM or later; more than 75 percent of schools in Alaska and North Dakota started at 8:30 AM or later.
  • Louisiana had the earliest average school start time (7:40 AM), while Alaska had the latest (8:33 AM).


Education Policy