Seattle Schools' Taskforce Recommends Changing Bell Times
I'm a bit late on this one but the the taskforce on bell times released its report to the Board on Wednesday. The upshot is that they voted that high schools should start an hour later with most elementaries starting 90 minutes later. There were three minority reports.
As I previously reported, Bellevue and Mercer Island are working together on this issues as well as Northshore and Lake Washington. All these districts and Seattle School District are faced with the financial and logistic challenges that a change would bring.
Modified Flip option 17 votes
No Change 2 votes
Extended High School Day 0 votes
Extended High School Day 0 votes
(Non-voting task force members: 3)
Tier 1 is most elementary schools would start at 8 am and end at 2:10 pm.
Tier 2 is some elementary schools and all high schools would start at 8:50 am with elementaries ending at 3:00 pm and high school at 3:20 pm.
Tier 3 is all middle schools and all K-8s would start at 9:40 am and end at 4:10 pm.
The Taskforce believes the Modified Flip would save the district money.
The Taskforce also acknowledges that there will be further community meetings for parents and community to give input.
Pages 13-16 review the Pros and Cons for each of the three voted-on choices.
The Taskforce notes that they DID consider eight other possibilities with the highest ranking on being a Two-Tier system where most elementaries (and one K-8) would start at 8 am and end at 2:10 pm (with the K-8 ending at 2:30 pm). Tier Two would be all other elementaries and all high/middle and K-8s starting at 8:50 am and ending at 3:20 pm.
Also key (and very thoughtful from the Taskforce):
Additionally, this report contains numerous references and citations of research focusing on effects to student academics, attendance and well-being from later start times. There is a wealth of research available on adolescent sleep patterns and school start and end times (see Addenda ‘Citations from data review summaries’). However, important to highlight are the limitations to generalizing the findings to Seattle. Often seen in the cited research itself are caveats to conclusions and notes of caution in generalizing the results of the studies too broadly. Among the difficulties faced by researchers was the challenge of establishing causality over correlation, or collecting consistent, reliable data able to be used for comparison and analysis. The environments and student populations studied differ from one another in many ways, including original school start times, socioeconomic backgrounds, race/ethnic diversity, and region of the country. The Task Force made recommendations based upon the best available research and interpreted the research data to the best of its ability.
- The Taskforce states that it worked with getting feedback via the Neighbor-to-Neighbor program, a bell times survey and arrival times inbox (I'm not sure what the last one is). However, they were not able to have all that data when they wrote their report.
- The community survey data from both the N2N program and the online survey were unavailable in their entirety due to the timing of data availability. The Task Force recommends that this data should inform the equity analysis that the District uses when making a decision. (p. 11)
- The Task Force reviewed many options for potential schedule changes in February 2015, prior to the bulk of the operational information being available to the Task Force. A two tier option and a modified flip option (that positions K-8 schools in the second tier) were also favored by the Task Force at that time. The Task Force report continues to support additional analysis of these options.
- The Task Force acknowledges the complexities of making any changes and further acknowledges that District Operations were “not of primary significance in the recommendation criteria” used by the Task Force, but are relevant. (p. 9)
- The Taskforce has a great chart system (pages 7-9) to consider impacts like older siblings caring for younger siblings, Special Ed students, school breakfast, etc.
- There were three brief Minority Reports. One was from the SE Seattle Education Coalition who called into question the make-up of the Taskforce in terms of finding minority members. A second was from the Seattle School Nurse Association. They find that one major complaint students have from middle/high school students who visit them is feeling sleepy/tired. They support the Modified Flip but wish the Tier 3 start time was earlier than 9:40 am.
- One Taskforce member, Kathy Katterhagen, believes that the recommendation may affect many more low-income students who struggle already.