Results of the study indicated that the major responsibilities of the liaisons were creating a trusting and welcoming environment, facilitating parent involvement in the schools, keeping parents informed on school-related topics, and connecting parents with resources. To increase their effectiveness, the liaisons requested greater job clarity and more flexibility in their formal work hours. In general, it appeared that the family liaisons investigated in this study placed a stronger emphasis on creating a welcoming environment and establishing trust than has been found in research on family liaisons in more affluent communities.
The primary objective of the UWCA program is to improve student academic performance through an innovative classroom/fieldwork curriculum that uses environmental educational experiences to teach science, social studies, and language arts. The ultimate goal is to inspire students to become environmental leaders. Program participants were fifth- through eighth-grade students in Minneapolis Public Schools.
Students’ grades and health improve with later high school start times
Later high school start times improve student grades and overall health, according to a new College of Education and Human Development study.
The three-year project, using data from more than 9,000 students attending eight high schools in three states, found that, when switching to a later start time:
attendance, standardized test scores and academic performance in math, English, science and social studies improved.
tardiness, substance abuse, symptoms of depression, and consumption of caffeinated drinks decreased.
In addition, the study found that there was a 70 percent drop in the number of car crashes involving teen drivers at Jackson Hole High School in Wyoming, which shifted to the latest start time of the eight schools (8:55 a.m.).
“The research confirmed what has been suspected for some time,” said Kyla Wahlstrom, Ph.D., director of the Center for Applied Research and Educational Improvement (CAREI), which conducted the study. “High schools across the country that have later start times show significant improvements in many areas. The reduction of teen car crashes may be the most important finding of all, as the well-being of teens and the safety of the general public are interrelated.”
The study, funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), found that high schools that begin as late as 8:55 a.m. have 66 percent of students obtaining eight or more hours of sleep on school nights, which is the recommended amount for high school aged students. Schools that begin at 7:30 a.m. have an average of only 34 percent of students obtaining eight or more hours of sleep on school nights.
“Even a start time of 8:35 a.m. allows 57-60 percent of students to get eight or more hours of sleep, which is an important health benefit for a majority of students,” said Wahlstrom. “Local school districts, school personnel, parents, and students need to understand the importance of sleep and to make choices using the knowledge from this and other studies.”
In the first study to examine multiple schools in various locations across the U.S., student data were collected from eight schools that moved to later start times. Over the last three years, researchers surveyed St. Louis Park High School, Mahtomedi High School, Woodbury High School, Park High School, and East Ridge High School in Minnesota; Boulder High School and Fairview High School in Colorado; and Jackson Hole High School in Wyoming. Students were individually surveyed about their daily activities, substance use and sleep habits. Researchers then examined various health factors post-change in school start time and compared them with national average data.
The study also collected comparative data about students’ academic performance, including grades, attendance, tardiness and performance on state and national standardized tests. Car crash data were also examined for the communities surrounding the participating high schools.
“Our research provides evidence of clear benefits for students whose high schools start at 8:30 a.m. or later,” said Wahlstrom. “More research needs to be done, but these findings are substantive and should provide more information for school districts considering a change in start time.”
Urban Wilderness Canoe Adventure Program Findings Spotlighted by Mayor and Foundations
Timothy Sheldon, research associate at CAREI, and Dr. Marti Erickson, founding Director of the University of Minnesota’s Children, Youth, & Family Consortium, presented the findings from CAREI’s three-year evaluation of the Urban Wilderness Canoe Adventure (UWCA) Program to Saint Paul Mayor Chris Coleman and several foundation leaders. Over 12,000 Twin Cities youth and their families participated in the program in 2012. Day and overnight canoe trips on the Mississippi River introduce young people to the outdoors, connect them to caring adults, and transform the lives of young people by helping them make lasting connections to the natural world. CAREI’s evaluation of the UWCA program assessed the impact of the program activities on the attitudes and behaviors of participating students. The evaluation found that the program: (a) positively influenced students’ attitudes about the river, the environment, and science; (b) resulted in more positive connections to peers and adults, (c) promoted personal development, and (d) increased leadership skills. For more information, you can access Sheldon’s recent report on the UWCA program evaluation.
CAREI Collaborative Grant Recipients Announced
The Center for Applied Research and Educational Improvement is pleased to announce the recipients of its 2013 CAREI Collaborative Grant Awards. These awards support research collaboration between practitioners in CAREI Member School Districts and faculty and staff of CEHD. This year’s recipients are:
• Roozbeh Shirazi, Assistant Professor in OLPD, and Kyle Sweeney, French Teacher with St. Louis Park Public Schools, for their project Not Just a Matter of Race: Engaging with Transnationalism as School Diversity. Their qualitative investigation is intended to lead to the development of pedagogical and curricular tools for educators to encourage the classroom participation of multilingual and multicultural students.
• Susan Ranney, Senior Lecturer in C&I, and Karla Stone, DirecTrack to Teaching Coordinator and Professional Development Specialist with Robbinsdale Area Schools. Their project, Amplifying Academic Language in Co-Taught Classrooms will explore how English learner (EL) teachers and content teachers can effectively co-teach academic language – the English used in textbooks and classrooms but not in everyday conversation – in middle and high school content classrooms.
CAREI evaluators present at MESI Spring Training Conference
Delia Kundin and Beverly Dretzke both presented at the Spring Training Conference of the Minnesota Evaluation Studies Institute. Beverly Dretzke conducted a workshop on “Using Excel to Analyze Survey Data.” Instructions for using Excel to carry out numerous statistical procedures are available in Dretzke’s publication Statistics with Microsoft® Excel, which is now in its fifth edition with Pearson. Delia Kundin led a café-style discussion on “Research on Evaluation & How to Get Published” in partnership with fellow University of Minnesota researchers Frances Lawrenz, Stacie Toal, and Kelli Johnson. Participants in both the workshop and discussion included faculty and staff from the University of Minnesota and other colleges and universities, graduate students, evaluators from independent organizations, and local government analysts.
Kwon Discusses Intersection of Research and Advocacy in the Asian American Community
Melissa Kwon was invited to speak to an audience including Assistant Commissioner of the Minnesota Department of Health Jeanne Ayers, Minnesota policy makers, non-profits, and community leaders at the annual Asian Pacific Islander Advocacy Day at the Minnesota State Capitol. Kwon is the recently elected Chair of the Asian American Pacific Islander Health Coalition (AAPIHC), a coalition of over 12 organizations and professionals committed to improving the health of AAPIs in Minnesota. She spoke about conducting research on and educating the Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) community about AAPI health and wellness, and specifically addressed the importance of disaggregating data among Asian American ethnicities. Kwon’s research with CAREI on API young women and health ties closely with her presentation, and Kwon’s undergraduate class participated in the advocacy day training and event.
Southern California Public Radio Interviews Wahlstrom on School Start Times
Kyla Wahlstrom, director of CAREI, was interviewed by KPCC Southern California Public Radio about her extensive research linking school start times with academic achievement and student wellness outcomes. The research is particularly relevant as the Long Beach Unified School District is debating changes to its middle and high school start times. Wahlstrom answered questions from a diverse set of callers, including parents, educators, and students. To learn more, you can listen to the radio program on the KPCC website or read CAREI’s reports on school start times.
School Start Time Research presented at National Sleep Foundation Conference
CAREI Researchers Beverly Dretzke and Molly F. Gordon both presented research on school start times at the annual National Sleep Foundation Sleep Health and Safety Conference. The conference was held in Washington, DC from March 1-2, 2013. The papers presented are:
● Later High School Start Times: Relationships Among Sleep Quantity, Quality, and Health Factors. Gordon, M. F., Gdula, J. A., & Wahlstrom, K. L.
● Impact of Delayed School Start Time on High School Students’ Attendance, Tardiness, and Academic Achievement. Dretzke, B. J., Gdula, J. A., & Wahlstrom, K.