Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Does Homework Help?

There’s a thought-provoking article about homework in The Washington Post.

One of the central questions posed is whether the US should engage in education reform to move away from “endless homework and inadequate high stakes testing.”  The writer, Vicki Abeles – director of the documentary entitled “Race to Nowhere,” wonders if most of the homework assignments given to students are stressing out students and families, failing to nurture intrinsic motivation and curiosity, and failing to provide the hoped for academic results. 

One of the problems in many school districts, including Potsdam Central, is that even though Board policy places limits on the total amount of time students should spend on homework per night, just who is policing this policy?

Is anyone checking to see how long it is taking students to complete assignments? Are teachers asking this of students? Do administrators know if the time limitations on homework are being adhered to? Isn't the highly capable math student going to spend far less time on practice homework than students with less capability? The proficient writer will be able to wrap up an essay far more quickly than students with average or below average ability. It seems obvious that the less skilled students are likely to have to devote significantly more time into completing homework assignments. Does anyone consider that a problem? 

The thing with homework and grading is that they are little studied in most schools of education; there is conflicting research about the impact of homework; there is little consistency and too much subjectivity in grading;  and daring to open this pandora's box usually results in controversy, a turf war, and push back to return to business as usual. 

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