Schools experiment with later school days, afternoon-only exams

The Niuewe Veste in Hardenberg will redevelop their lesson schedule based on research that shows that adolescents only become active much later in the day and perform poorly in the morning. Many teens suffer from permanent sleep deprivation. The school expects that the new class schedule will help students get better grades.

From September students started at 09:00 a.m instead of 08:10. Because in the mornings pupils perform worse, says location director Tom Versteeg.

Two students of the school community came to this conclusion last year in their award winning profile project. Amy Pieper (19) and Anne Siersema (18) studied the sleep rhythms and school results of more than 700 fellow students under the guidance of the University of Groningen (RUG). Students with a relatively "early" biological clock got better results in the morning compared to their classmates who have a "later" biological clock. Everyone also performed a lot better in tests later in the day. The research also showed that Tuesdays are the worst days for tests.

The profile project led to the school taking greater account of the biorythm of adolescents, says Versteeg. According to Thomas Kantermaan of RUG, who supervised the research, American and British researchers drew similar conclusions earlier.

The students of the Niuewe Veste will soon start the new educational model with two hours to do homework assignments or projects. Instruction lessons will follow from 10:30 - when students are at their best. Tests have also been moved to Thursday afternoons. The school has already completed two test weeks and the full test run will start in April.

In August the American Academy of Pediatrics called chronic sleep deprivation among teenagers one of the greatest threats to public health. The organization called on schools to not start before 08:30 in the morning, preferably later.