• School Start Times & Grade Weighting Resources

    Watch the November 9 presentation at Marshall Middle School

    Frequently Asked Questions on school start times and grade weighting

    Tackling Student Stress

    During the 2016-17 school year, the District convened a committee to unpack the factors associated with academic pressure and student stress. Student interviews and parent focus groups were used to collect feedback regarding what was causing student stress and ways to possibly address these concerns.

    The committee found that a variety of in- and out-of-school factors caused students stress. The root causes of these factors were identified and recommendations emerged. The District is now moving down two parallel paths:

    • Provide mindfulness/stress management training for students and staff members.
    • Examine systemic factors that are currently contributing to student stress.

    The first path centers on teaching strategies to staff members and students around the concept of mindfulness. These practices focus on developing attention skills, resiliency, and social emotional outcomes and ultimately stress reduction. The District recognizes the stress students feel and thus has a renewed focus on creating positive, happy, and healthy learning environments and experiences for everyone. These strategies will be implemented in classrooms beginning in early 2018.

    Four Major Systemic Factors

    The second path is identifying systemic factors that play a role, such as grade weighting, school start times, homework, and testing, and making specific recommendations regarding potential changes. The District first plans to tackle school start times and grade weighting by gathering feedback from the NA community and make potential recommendations in December 2017 for a vote in January 2018. Click here to view the timeline of action.

    1

    Grade Weighting

    There is a myth that students need to take as many weighted courses as possible to get into college. In reality, colleges and universities remove the grade weights when students apply.

    Currently, Honors and AP level courses are weighted, which boosts a student’s GPA. In an effort to enhance their GPA, many students focus only on courses that are weighted, which encourages grade and course acceleration. As a result, students do not select courses that may suit their future needs more appropriately.

    Possible Recommendations Regarding Grade Weighting May Include

    Concepts

    • Eliminate weighted grades completely
    • Cap the number of courses a student can receive weighted grades for each year
    • Weight AP and Honors courses the same

    Timing

    • Implement for all students beginning in the 2018-19 school year
    • Implement for 9th and 10th graders in the 2018-19 school year and phase in over three years
    • Implement for incoming 9th graders in 2018-19 and phase in over four years
    2

    School Start Times

    NASD school start times are currently:

    • High school – 7:25 a.m.
    • Middle school – 8:10 a.m.
    • Elementary school – 9:00 a.m.

    The following organizations recommend an 8:30 a.m. start time for adolescents:

    • American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP)
    • American Medical Association (AMA)
    • Centers for Disease Control (CDC)

    Consequences of Insufficient Sleep

    • Depression
    • Suicide
    • Substance abuse
    • Increased risk-taking behaviors
    • Weight gain/obesity
    • Sports injuries
    • Lower grades/academic achievement
    • Lower test scores
    • Falling asleep in school
    • Increased absences and tardiness

    Possible Recommendations Regarding School Start Times May Include

    • Push all start times back (i.e. 60 minutes)
    • Adjust school start times for all levels
      • Elementary-Middle-High
      • Elementary-High-Middle
    • Push start times back and condense from three to two bus runs
      • One run for elementary
      • One run for middle school and high school
    3

    Homework

    Homework will be explored in Phase 2 of Tackling Student Stress.

    4

    Testing

    Testing will be explored in Phase 2 of Tackling Student Stress.

    Timeline for Making Recommendations Regarding Phase 1

    Aug.-Jan. End result committee meets
    Sep.-Oct. Collect feedback from various stakeholder groups (SPLC, SAC, etc.)
    Nov. 8 Brief presentation to the School Board
    Nov. 9 and 13 Public forum around tackling stress at MMS and CMS, respectively. Meetings begin at 7:00 p.m. Childcare is available. Click here to learn more and register.
    Nov. 14-22 Electronic survey for parents, staff members, and students
    Dec. 13 Board Presentation regarding possible recommendations
    Jan. 17 Follow-up Board Presentation (if necessary)
    Jan. 24 School Board votes on possible recommendations

    Resources

    Later start time for teens improves grades, mood, and safety

    North Allegheny School District Introducing Mindfulness Program

    School Start Times & Grade Weighting Presentation. This presentation was delivered during the public forums in November 2017.