Homework From Home

Because many of these parents already feel connected to their school community, this benefit of homework can seem redundant.

“They don’t need it,” Schneider says, “so they’re not advocating for it.”That doesn’t mean, necessarily, that homework is more vital in low-income districts.

Earlier this year, the district of Somerville, Massachusetts, also rewrote its homework policy, reducing the amount of homework its elementary and middle schoolers may receive.

In grades six through eight, for example, homework is capped at an hour a night and can only be assigned two to three nights a week.

In fact, there are different, but just as compelling, reasons it can be burdensome in these communities as well.

Allison Wienhold, who teaches high-school Spanish in the small town of Dunkerton, Iowa, has phased out homework assignments over the past three years.Cooper conducted a review of the existing research on homework in the mid-2000s, and found that, up to a point, the amount of homework students reported doing correlates with their performance on in-class tests.This correlation, the review found, was stronger for older students than for younger ones.“The students do seem to be less stressed based on conversations I’ve had with parents,” Carlomagno says.It also helps that the students performed just as well on the state standardized test last year as they have in the past.Hillsborough, California, an affluent suburb of San Francisco, is one district that has changed its ways.The district, which includes three elementary schools and a middle school, worked with teachers and convened panels of parents in order to come up with a homework policy that would allow students more unscheduled time to spend with their families or to play.Jack Schneider, an education professor at the University of Massachusetts at Lowell whose daughter attends school in Somerville, is generally pleased with the new policy.But, he says, it’s part of a bigger, worrisome pattern.This anti-homework sentiment faded, though, amid mid-century fears that the U. was falling behind the Soviet Union (which led to more homework), only to resurface in the 1960s and ’70s, when a more open culture came to see homework as stifling play and creativity (which led to less).But this didn’t last either: In the ’80s, government researchers blamed America’s schools for its economic troubles and recommended ramping homework up once more.


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