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Early to rise? The effect of daily start times on academic performance

Economics of Education Review Volume 31, Number 6, ISSN 0272-7757 Publisher: Elsevier Ltd


Local school districts often stagger daily start times for their schools in order to reduce busing costs. This paper uses data on all middle school students in Wake County, NC from 1999 to 2006 to identify the causal effect of daily start times on academic performance. Using variation in start times within schools over time, the effect is a two percentile point gain in math test scores – roughly fourteen percent of the black–white test score gap. I find similar results for reading scores and using variation in start times across schools. The effect is stronger for students in the lower end of the distribution of test scores. I find evidence supporting increased sleep as a mechanism through which start times affect test scores. Later start times compare favorably on cost grounds to other education interventions which result in similar test score gains.


Edwards, F. (2012). Early to rise? The effect of daily start times on academic performance. Economics of Education Review, 31(6), 970-983. Elsevier Ltd. Retrieved April 25, 2019 from .

This record was imported from Economics of Education Review on March 1, 2019. Economics of Education Review is a publication of Elsevier.

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