TRENTON, NJ – As New Jersey high schools continue to rank top in the nation, legislators are hoping to encourage even better academic outcomes with more emphasis on student health. Given the connection between more sleep and improved academic performance, Governor Murphy signed a law on Friday to assess how pushing back high school start ties to 8:30 a.m. could be beneficial. 

The law (A-4865) establishes a four-year pilot program to study the issues, benefits and options for implementing later start times across New Jersey high schools. To participate, school districts will need to submit an application to the Commissioner of Education. Five schools will then be selected so as to represent the northern, central and southern regions of the state as well as a combination of urban, suburban and rural areas.

The primary goal of the law will be to assess how later school start times function in the context of New Jersey, and to see its effect on reducing tardiness and absenteeism. While research has broadly articulated positive effects of a later start in the morning, this new law will help identify any negative implications of the policy before any pursuit of statewide implementation.

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“Our school schedules should reflect the needs of our students,” said Vainieri Huttle (D-Bergen). “So often, our children are attending school on far less sleep than what is medically recommended. This pilot program will give us a deeper understanding of how a later start to the school day may impact students – especially in regards to academic performance. This law is supported by advocates and experts alike, including the American Academy of Pediatrics.”

Assemblywomen Mila Jasey, Valerie Vainieri Huttle and Carol Murphy sponsored legislation. The law was given final legislative approval by a 72-0-3 vote in the full Assembly.

 

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