Surveys shine critical light on Barrington school times

Students and staff are mostly critical of new start times; parents see good and bad

By Scott Pickering
Posted 2/12/20

The Barrington School District released a report that skews toward being a very critical review of the new schedules enacted this school year. The data can be interpreted numerous ways, but there is …

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Surveys shine critical light on Barrington school times

Students and staff are mostly critical of new start times; parents see good and bad


The Barrington School District released a report that skews toward being a very critical review of the new schedules enacted this school year. The data can be interpreted numerous ways, but there is an overriding tone of negative feedback, especially from three groups of people — staff at all levels; middle school and high school students; and the parents of students in the elementary grades.

The new schedules this year — with older students reporting to school later and the younger students reporting to school earlier — are designed as a healthier program for teenagers. Advocates, including the Barrington School Committee members who approved the change after years of debate and controversy, believe teens who sleep later will perform better academically, feel less stress and show improved mental health.

So far, however, results of a district-wide survey have not matched with expectations. For instance, 60 percent of Barrington High School students say they are more stressed this year than they were last year and another 29 percent said there has been no impact. Half of Barrington Middle School students say they are more stressed, and another 40 percent say their stress levels are the same. High school students say they are getting less support from teachers after school than they did a year ago; 37 percent of middle school students said the same.

To see the full report, view the slideshow above.

Asked about their sleep, an overwhelming number of Hampden Meadows School fifth-graders (65 percent) say they are getting less sleep. The results are significant, as nearly every fifth-grader took the survey. Among the older students, about a third say they are getting more sleep; the rest say there has been no change, or they’re getting less.

The 52-page report released last week includes data from the survey sent to all students, parents and teachers, as well as data pulled from the first trimester. The schools are seeing significantly more instances of tardiness at the younger grades, and early dismissal at the older grades.

Nearly 400 high school students took the survey (35 percent of the student population) and more than 700 students at the middle school (87 percent). Participation among parents was much lower, as between 10 and 20 percent of parents at all levels took the survey. Among staff, 70 percent took the survey.

Key Takeaways from the School Survey

Generally speaking …

Amount of sleep:

  • Half of the older students (BHS and BMS) feel like they’re getting the same amount of sleep; the rest are evenly split between more and less.
  • The younger students overwhelmingly feel like they’re getting less sleep.
  • The parents feel like the older students are getting about the same amount of sleep or more.
  • A majority of parents feel like the younger students are getting less sleep.

Being alert in the morning

  • The older students feel about the same.
  • The younger students definitely feel less alert.
  • The staff see no change in students’ level of alertness, or feel they are less alert.

Being alert in the afternoon

  • BHS students say they are less alert or the same — their teachers overwhelmingly agree.
  • BMS students say they are basically the same — their teachers say they are less alert.
  • HMS students are evenly split.

After-school academic support

  • BHS students say they’re getting less support.
  • BMS students say it’s the same or less.
  • Their parents believe it’s about the same or less.

Participation in extracurricular activities

  • The older students overwhelmingly say it has been negative (65% at BHS and 49% at BMS)
  • BHS and BMS parents say there is either no impact or a negative impact on their children.
  • Parents of younger children say there is no impact.

Family stress levels

  • BHS and BMS parents are evenly split, though they lean slightly toward “more stressed.”
  • A majority of parents at the younger grades say stress has increased.

Student stress levels

  • BHS and BMS students overwhelmingly say they are more stressed.
  • A majority of HMS students say they are about the same, though 37% say they are more stressed.

Impact on personal schedules for staff

  • Staff at BHS and BMS are overwhelmingly critical.
  • Staff at the younger grades are more positive.

Time preference?

  • A majority of BHS and BMS students prefer the earlier times.
  • A majority of HMS students prefer the later times.
  • Parents of older students are evenly split.
  • Parents of younger students overwhelmingly prefer the later start times.
  • A majority of staff at every school prefer earlier times.


  • Levels or tardiness are down slightly at BHS and BMS.
  • They are much higher at all elementary schools, especially HMS.

Early dismissals

  • They have increased dramatically at BHS and BMS.
  • They are about the same at the younger grades.

Comments - The most common answers


  • BHS: “Interferes with After-School Activities” and “Get Less Sleep”
  • BMS: “Interferes with After-School Activities” and “Need to Stay Up Late”
  • HMS: “Too early for K-5”


  • BHS: “Good for HS” and “Issues with Activities”
  • BMS: “Interferes with Activities and “Complicated for Families”
  • Gr. 4-5: “Too Early for K-5” and “Bus Issues”
  • K-3: “Too Early for K-3” and “Bus Times/Lengths”


  • BHS: “Issues with After-School Help” and “Negative for Staff Family”
  • BMS: “Can’t Stay After for Help” and “Too Many Early Dismissals”
  • HMS: “Works Well 4-5,” “Too Early K-5” and “No Morning Help”
  • K-3: “Bus Issues,” “Students are Tired” and “Tardiness”

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A lifelong Portsmouth resident, Jim graduated from Portsmouth High School in 1982 and earned a journalism degree from the University of Rhode Island in 1986. He's worked two different stints at East Bay Newspapers, for a total of 18 years with the company so far. When not running all over town bringing you the news from Portsmouth, Jim listens to lots and lots and lots of music, watches obscure silent films from the '20s and usually has three books going at once. He also loves to cook crazy New Orleans dishes for his wife of 25 years, Michelle, and their two sons, Jake and Max.