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8-7-15 Education in the News

Star Ledger - N.J. schools make teens wake up too early, CDC say  ‘Early school start times are preventing adolescents from eating enough sleep, according to the Centers for Disease Control… Schools across America, including those in New Jersey, are increasing teenagers' risk of health problems and poor academic performance by making them wake up too early, according to a report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.’

By Adam Clark | NJ Advance Media for NJ.com The Star-Ledger
Email the author | Follow on Twitter
on August 06, 2015 at 5:13 PM, updated August 07, 2015 at 7:12 AM

Schools across America, including those in New Jersey, are increasing teenagers' risk of health problems and poor academic performance by making them wake up too early, according to a report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The CDC reported today that about 85 percent of New Jersey middle and high schools start before 8:30 a.m., the start time recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics. The findings were part of a national analysis of 2011-12 data that revealed that more than 80 percent of middle and high schools nationally started before they should, the report said.

New Jersey's average start time of 8 a.m. for middle and high schools was in line with the national average of 8:03 a.m., according to the report. Across the country, 42 states reported that at least 75 percent of their middle and high schools started before 8:30 a.m.

"Getting enough sleep is important for students' health, safety, and academic performance," said Anne Wheaton, the report's lead author and an epidemiologist for the CDC. "Early school start times, however, are preventing many adolescents from getting the sleep they need."

RELATED: How the complicated process of finalizing PARCC results unfolds

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that adolescents get between 8.5 and 9.5 hours of a sleep per night.

Biological rhythms during puberty commonly shift so adolescents become tired later and need to sleep later, the CDC report said. But delayed bed times combined with early school start times results in inadequate sleep for two out of every three adolescents, according to the report.

A lack of sleep can lead to students feeling depressed and being overweight, the report said. Teens who don't get enough sleep may also be more likely to drink alcohol, smoke cigarettes or use drugs, according to the CDC.

New Jersey's Department of Education requires schools to complete a certain number of hours each year, but it does not dictate what time schools open, spokesman Mike Yaple said.

"The decision of when to start school, how to structure bus routes and the calendar throughout the school year are all local decisions," Yaple said.

School start times have come under scrutiny from state lawmakers in the wake of the American Academy of Pediatrics recommendation last year that middle and schools delay their openings until 8:30 a.m. or later.

Both the Senate and Assembly passed a bill that directs the Department of Education to study the issues, benefits, and options for changing the start time for middle school and high school to a later time. Gov. Chris Christie has yet to take action on the proposal.

While students may reap the benefits of more sleep, rearranging a school's schedule comes with logistical challenges, the CDC report said.

Changing bus schedules could create increased costs and the potential for traffic congestion for students and faculty. A later state time would also disrupt after-school activities, especially athletics, according the report.

The New Jersey Association of School Administrators has said that some districts that pushed back the start time for middle and high school students received complaints that older children weren't home to take care of their younger siblings in the afternoon.

Along with later school start times, the CDC suggests that parents try to make sure students to go to bed earlier. Setting a regular bed time and removing cell phones or other technology from the bedroom can help teens fall asleep, the report said.

Overall in New Jersey, about 7 percent of middle and high schools reported starting before 7:30 a.m., according to the CDC. About 37 percent started between 7:30 and 7:59  a.m., and about 41 percent started between 8 and 8:29 a.m.

Adam Clark may be reached at adam_clark@njadvancemedia.com. Follow him on twitter at @realAdamClarkFind NJ.com on Facebook


NJ Spotlight - Charter Teachers Typically Follow Traditional Routes to Certification…New staff at charters thus far follow tried-and-true path to fulfilling requirements, administration reports

A year ago, new regulations were approved that defined the minimum requirements for New Jersey charter schools teachers, a move meant to give the state-sanctioned schools further flexibility in hiring.

Yet in the year since, the vast majority of new hires at charter schools have followed the more established tracks to earn their certification, whether going the university route or what’s known as “alternate route” training, according to state officials.

Related Links

Certification Pathways Presentation

The Christie administration on Wednesday presented the state Board of Education an update on the new certification requirements for charters, which provided a third track to a license. The rules include a minimum track similar in some ways to the state’s “alternate route,” which requires less course work and clinical training and offers more flexible hourly and credit demands.

Yet officials said fewer than one in 10 teachers hired by charter schools for the 2014-2015 school year held the charter-specific certification. For the most part, certifications were the same as those required in district schools.

Of 407 new hires in the past year in charter schools, officials said that only 22 held the charter-only license.

“A majority are still going the traditional pathways,” said assistant commissioner Evo Popoff, whose office oversees charter schools.

The different pathways have been a contentious topic since the new regulations were passed, as have the exemptions that allow charters exemptions from some of the state’s new teacher tenure and evaluation laws.

“I have never felt there was a rationale for downgrading what’s required for charters,” said Edith Fulton, a state board member and former president of the New Jersey Education Association. “You are more or less putting a noose around their neck and making them go back to school.”

Garden State Coalition of Schools
160 W. State Street, Trenton New Jersey 08608