Critical tests at high school may start later

Important tests at the high school, traditionally given at the beginning of the day, may be given later when students are better able to perform.

Following a study on adolescent sleep patterns, Carson High School officials determined that students learn and perform best between the hours of 11 a.m. and 3:30 p.m.

"I've always been one to say, 'let's get after it early,'" said Principal Glen Adair. "I might have been wrong."

Adair presented the findings to members of the school board Tuesday night.

"The research tells us that kids actually turn on later in the day," Adair said.

The study was initiated by board president Jean Kvam who read an article in the American School Board Journal published in March about early start times at school.

"These are all those things on the periphery that we, as a school district, need to take a look at," Kvam said.

Adair said it wouldn't be prudent to start school later because it would have to end later, leaving less time for sports, jobs and other activities.

He said about 50 percent of students are involved in extracurricular activities and nearly 40 percent hold part-time jobs after school.

The easiest solution, Adair said, would be to hold high-stakes tests later in the day.

The results of this year's first round of proficiency exams came in last week. Adair said, on average, students did very well in the reading and writing portions of the test but the math results were "disappointing."

"I wasn't appalled by our finish in math but we had put such effort into remediation and boosting curriculum, I eagerly awaited the results to see if we would come out in the top 50 to 60 percentile," Adair said. "We didn't."

He said perhaps the reason for the low scores was the early administration of the exam.

However, he stressed that it is not an excuse. He said the key to success is that students take responsibility for their education by taking it seriously and getting to bed early.

"Kids need to be involved in their own learning," he said. "They need to show up for their own future."

Trustee John McKenna said the school should also look at the option of providing areas where students could take short naps during their breaks or during lunch period.

"It might be something the library at the school could look into," he said.

Adair also explained to the board that he would like to establish a teen peer court at the high school, similar to the one in effect at Douglas High School.

The court would be a cooperation of the district attorney's office, juvenile probation and the school district where peers would determine consequences for fellow students who broke school rules or general laws.

"It's very powerful stuff," Adair said. "It's kids helping kids with consequences."

McKenna supported Adair's suggestion.

"If you think it will improve your school, I think it's your ball to carry, so go for it," McKenna told Adair.


Use the comment form below to begin a discussion about this content.

Sign in to comment