TRENTON, N.J. (AP) -- The General Assembly has sent Gov. Chris Christie a bill that calls for studying the benefits and issues involved with starting the day later in middle and high schools.

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The legislation requires the Department of Education to submit a report to lawmakers and the governor including a recommendation on whether New Jersey should pursue a pilot program to test later start times at some schools.

Lawmakers said the study could be a first step toward making times later across the state.

Assemblywoman Mila Jasey said many students are not getting enough sleep, which can affect their grades. She added that resetting the school day would not be easy but that the bill is a first step.

"Given what we now know about the effects of sleep deprivation on the adolescent brain, to not even consider it as a possibility does our students a disservice," she added.

The legislation requires that the study consider a recommendation by the American Academy of Pediatrics that middle and high schools delay the start of class to 8:30 a.m. or later.

The idea is to accommodate students' biological sleep rhythms, lawmakers said.

"It seems unfair to expect students to be alert and ready to learn early in the morning, when according to the experts; their brains are still in sleep mode," said Assemblyman John McKeon.

The Assembly passed the measure Thursday after the Senate passed it in December.

A spokesman from Christie's office did not immediately return a message seeking comment.


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