Today I bring you two inexpensive and obvious ways to improve student performance.
Part One: Sleep in
Yet another study shows that starting the school day a little later — 8:30 instead of 8:00 — increased the number of students that got adequate sleep, improved the mood of students during the school day, and slightly improved grades. Attendance improved and visits to the school health office (what used to be the Nurse’s Office) declined. In fact, the teachers who had been against the change at the beginning of the study supported keeping the later start time by the end!
Locally, high schools start around 7 AM and kids are back in the neighborhood by around 1:30. I can’t help but think that a later start time would reduce not only car accidents, but juvenile delinquency, crimes against teenagers, gang participation, teenage pregnancy, and teenage drug/alcohol abuse. What excuse can school districts possibly have to justify all these negative outcomes?
Part Two: Teach Based on What Kids Know
Kansas City, MO, has been experimenting with a radical program where kids are grouped and learning according to their ability and what skills/knowledge they actually have, rather than what they ought to know as an Xth grader. It turns out that kids do a lot better when you make sure they know things before moving on to more complicated things. Gee, Toru Kumon had that figured out decades ago, and Zig Englemann rediscovered it in a different decade! What’s that saying about people who don’t know history?