News Detail

Students Validate Health and Academic Benefits of New Schedule

To measure the impact of the changes, last month Upper School students completed a survey on the new schedule. 
St. Margaret’s implemented an innovative new school schedule this year that focuses on nurturing student health and wellness. The new schedule serves a multitude of student health benefits and optimizes the learning environment, taking into account important factors of sleep, time management, balance and nutrition. It increases daily and weekly predictability and productivity, including a reduction of classes per day, consistent class lengths, more breaks and a later start time every day. The schedule also prioritizes time for service learning and innovative new student programs in the school day.

Based on a substantial body of research around the importance of quality sleep and childhood sleep patterns, particularly in middle and high school students, St. Margaret’s moved the start time of school to 8:15 a.m. to allow students to sleep later. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, delaying school start times is an effective countermeasure to chronic sleep debt in teens and has wide-ranging benefits to physical and mental healthy, safety and academic achievement.

“As we think about our mission, establishing healthy habits for lifelong wellness is an important aspect of our work with students. The benefits derived from the new schedule support this development and position our students for enhanced performance in their academic and co-curricular pursuits,” said Assistant Head of School for Strategic Initiatives Ryan Dahlem.

Students are telling the school already of the myriad benefits they are experiencing. To measure the impact of the change, last month Upper School students completed a survey about their feedback on the new schedule. St. Margaret’s is comparing the results to baseline data collected through the same survey administered exactly one year earlier in September 2017. Comparison results show significant improvements in student perception of the school schedule and its impact on their health and academic needs.

Student Survey Key Findings:
  • 96% of students agree the new schedule is an improvement over the previous schedule
  • 90% of students agree the new schedule supports their health and wellness needs. (2017 comparison: 21%)
  • 95% of students agree the new schedule supports their academic needs. (2017 comparison: 77%)
  • 82% of students agree the new schedule supports their ability to participate in activities outside the classroom. (2017 comparison: 54%)
  • 91% of students agree the new start time (8:15 AM) works well for them. (2017 comparison at 7:45 a.m. start: 25%)
  • Students are sleeping later each morning as expected with the later start time, an average of 33 minutes.
  • Students are also going to bed earlier by an average of 39 minutes, for a total net sleep gain of over an hour a night.
What Student Are Saying:
“It’s been great. I love having fewer classes [per day]. I like the consistent schedule. School is a much more manageable, enjoyable experience.”
– Grade 12 Student
“I feel much more prepared for each class, and am able to learn more each class.”
– Grade 11 Student
“I love the schedule. As a new student I had my fears about being able to make it to classes on time, being at school on time, and having enough time for after school activities. I have found that the schedule provides enough time for all of these things. I also have enough time to finish my homework each night after practice and I have enough time during the day with tutorials and study blocks.”
– Grade 9 Student
“I am now having less homework and stress at night. I am able to study for the ACT and other classes with my free blocks and break. I am able to go to sleep earlier than last year.” – Grade 12 Student

“Super effective in creating a positive learning experience and having a good sleep schedule”
– Grade 10 Student
“The new schedule had made daily life for me at school a lot more manageable and stress free.”
– Grade 11 Student
School leaders are continuing to analyze the impact of the new schedule, including collecting data from Middle School students, faculty and staff. Parents interested in providing input should contact Mr. Dahlem at
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An Independent Preschool Through Grade 12 College-Preparatory Day School in Orange County California

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