Ridgewood High Unveils New 8:20 AM Start Time Backed by Sleep Science

In its recent meeting, the Ridgewood School Board discussed a significant shift to later school start times backed by sleep data and surveys. The meeting also covered key topics like data-driven education, new technologies, and a comprehensive view of academic assessment, including state and federal testing.

The meeting kicked off with Ridgewood High School Principal Mr. Nyeis discussing the school’s new later start time, now slated for 8:20 a.m. Nyeis said the decision was supported by “extensive staff and student surveys,” as well as sleep data that indicated a majority of students were not getting the recommended 8-10 hours of sleep. Superintendent Mark Schwarz lauded the efforts, saying it was a “significant change” aimed at benefiting the students.

Board members Saurabh Dani and Sheila Brogan initiated dialogue about the structure of the new schedule, which opted for a 50/70/50-minute per period timing instead of the 57-minute class periods, favored by many staff members. “This change might make it easier for teachers to transition while also allowing science labs to be conducted during the longer periods,” noted board members. A concern about the potential loss of instructional time was raised, especially for Advanced Placement (AP) courses. System staff countered that by saying, “the improved quality of teaching and student performance would offset the 20-minute reduction in daily face-to-face instructional time.”

The meeting then segued into discussions about how the district will assess the efficacy of the new schedule. Mark Schwarz suggested that Ridgewood was “ahead of the curve” and “evidence-based” in its decision-making, with plans to monitor both wellness and academic metrics. Board member Jeff recommended that the district track metrics like the number of students receiving Ds and Fs and AP exam results to evaluate the changes.

With a shift in focus, Mark Schwarz presented data comparing New Jersey’s GPA and Access Testing for English Language Learners (ELLs) to those of Ridgewood. He pointed out that although Ridgewood students generally outperformed the state average, particularly in math, there were data anomalies that warranted further investigation. Muhammad Mahmoud advised that the board should also examine SATs, ACTs, AP participation, and other holistic metrics.

Amid concerns about “testing fatigue” among students, Michael Lembo underscored the importance of data-informed instruction. “We need to understand standards better and improve pacing and sequencing,” he said. The board mulled over potentially consolidating federal and state testing into a single standardized test, such as the ACT.

On the topic of professional development, board members delved into training for Amplify, a reading and writing program. Sheila Brogan underscored the human aspect of education, particularly with regard to stress levels in students with special needs. “We use data to identify students who are not graduation ready,” she stated, highlighting the need for mental health and family services beyond the classroom.

In the realm of technology, Superintendent Schwarz highlighted the success of their social media outreach and introduced new software called Thought Exchange. “Thought Exchange was chosen for its analytical depth,” he said. However, this led to board questions about user anonymity and potential controversies.

The meeting also touched on budgetary considerations, with Muhammad Mahmoud emphasizing thoughtful spending. “Whatever software we purchase should be leveraged for data mining to inform action plans,” he stressed. Other topics such as attendance during lunch hours, declining PSAT participation rates, and website redesign were also discussed.

Towards the end of the meeting, the public comment section raised concerns over the district’s math proficiency rates and the potential for Thought Exchange to politicize school issues.

The board concluded the meeting, acknowledging that several topics would require ongoing investigation and discussion.

Note: This meeting summary was generated by AI, which can occasionally misspell names, misattribute actions, and state inaccuracies. This summary is intended to be a starting point and you should review the meeting record linked above before acting on anything you read. If we got something wrong, let us know. We’re working every day to improve our process in pursuit of universal local government transparency.
Not avaliable:

School Board Officials:

Receive debriefs about local meetings in your inbox weekly:

Trending meetings
across the country:

Meeting Date
Filter by bodytypes
Agricultural Advisory Committee
Airport Advisory Board
Art and Culture Board
Beach Committee
Bike and Pedestrian Advisory Committee
Board of Elections
Board of Health
Borough Council
Building Committee
Cannabis Control Board
Cemetery Commission
Charter Revision Commission
Child and Family Services Board
City Council
City Identity Committee
Code Enforcement Board
College Board of Trustees
Community Appearance Board
Community Preservation Committee
Community Redevelopment Agency
County Council
Disability Advisory Committee
Economic Development Board
Elderly Affairs Board
Electric Advisory Board
Environmental Commission
Financial Oversight Board
Historic Preservation Commission
Housing Authority
Human Relations Committee
Human Resources Committee
Insurance Fund
Land Use Board
Library Board
Licensing Board
Mental Health Commission
Municipal Alliance
Open Space Commission
Oversight and Review Committee
Parking Authority
Parks and Gardens Commission
Parks Commission
Pension Board
Planning Board
Police Review Board
Property Assessment Board
Public Safety Committee
Recreation Commission
Redevelopment Agency
Rent Control Board
Rent Leveling Board
School Board
Sewerage Authority
Shade Tree Commission
Special Magistrate
Taxation & Revenue Advisory Committee
Tourism Board
Trails Committee
Transportation Board
Utility Board
Value Adjustment Board
Veterans Committee
Water Control Board
Women's Advisory Committee
Youth Advisory Committee
Zoning Board
Filter by County
Bay County
Bradford County
Brevard County
Broward County
Clay County
Duval County
Escambia County
Gulf County
Hendry County
Highlands County
Hillsborough County
Indian River County
Lake County
Lee County
Leon County
Levy County
Liberty County
Manatee County
Marion County
Martin County
Miami-Dade County
Monroe County
Okaloosa County
Orange County
Osceola County
Palm Beach County
Pasco County
Pinellas County
Polk County
Putnam County
Santa Rosa County
Sarasota County
Seminole County
St. Johns County
Taylor County
Volusia County
Walton County
Barnstable County
Berkshire County
Bristol County
Essex County
Franklin County
Hampden County
Hampshire County
Middlesex County
Norfolk County
Plymouth County
Suffolk County
Worcester County
Atlantic County
Bergen County
Burlington County
Camden County
Cape May County
Cumberland County
Essex County
Gloucester County
Hudson County
Hunterdon County
Mercer County
Middlesex County
Monmouth County
Morris County
Ocean County
Passaic County
Somerset County
Sussex County
Union County
Warren County
Filter by sourcetypes