The ongoing debate about homework—how much, for whom and to what end—has picked up momentum in parenting and educational circles, as recent research studies continue to question the relationship between time spent doing homework and academic engagement among students.
Experts who have conducted or synthesized research on the links between homework, learning and test performance agree that the relationship between homework and school achievement is limited.
In a study released by the Economics of Education Review, homework in science, English and history was shown to have "little to no impact" on eighth graders' test scores in those subjects. Harris Cooper, Duke University, surveyed 15 years' worth of homework studies conducted across the country, and found diminishing returns for middle and high school students as the hours spent doing homework increased.
Moreover, homework has also been linked to stress and academic disengagement among both young children and teens. In a study by the Lucile Packard Foundation for Children's Health, 70% of Bay Area parents reported that their 9- to 13-year-olds suffered "moderate to high levels of stress," and that schoolwork or homework was the most significant contributor.
Similarly, a Scholastic study of 500 children and their parents found that reading for pleasure decreased dramatically after age 8 (the age after which only 29% of students read every day). Parents identified homework as the number one reason their children didn't read more.
Change is possible.
In order to better support learning and a spirit of engagement in our classrooms, and to remedy the academic stress and anxiety that accompanies current homework practices and policies, we are asking the National PTA to adopt recommendations on homework - guidelines that will help educators innovate and improve their approaches to designing and assigning homework in our classrooms.
Join us today in urging the National PTA today—for the first time—to adopt homework guidelines that encourage schools nationwide to reexamine and reimagine homework practices to better support student engagement, health and learning.
For more information, background materials and a PDF version of the guidelines, visit http://www.racetonowhere.com/homework-guidelines.
If you are an organization that supports these guidelines and would like to publicly endorse them, contact us at email@example.com. Your endorsement could make the difference!
Created by Vicki Abeles, Sara Bennett, Alfie Kohn & Etta Kralovec on behalf of the "Race to Nowhere" community.
1. HOMEWORK SHOULD ADVANCE A SPIRIT OF LEARNING
Educators at all grade levels should assign homework only when:
• Such assignments demonstrably advance a spirit of learning, curiosity and inquiry among students.
• Such assignments demonstrably provide a unique learning opportunity or experience that cannot be had within the confines of the school setting or school day.
• Such assignments are not intended to enhance rote skill rehearsal or mastery. Rehearsal and repetition assignments should be completed within the confines of the school day, if they are required at all.
• Such assignments are not intended as a disciplinary or punitive measure, nor as a means of fostering competition among or assessment of students.
2. HOMEWORK SHOULD BE STUDENT-DIRECTED
Educators at all grade levels, but particularly in elementary and middle grades, should limit take-home assignments to:
• At-home reading chosen by the student.
• Project-based work chosen by the student.
• Experiential learning that integrates the student’s existing interests and family commitments.
• Work that can be completed without the assistance of a sibling, caregiver or parent.
3. HOMEWORK SHOULD PROMOTE A BALANCED SCHEDULE
Educators at all grade levels should avoid assigning or requiring homework:
• On non-school nights, including weekends, school holidays, or winter or summer breaks.
• On the nights of major or all-school events, concerts, or sports activities.
• When a child is sick or absent from school.
• When it conflicts with a child’s parental, family, religious or community obligations.
We the undersigned acknowledge that the above commitments will ask of school leaders that they provide teachers with professional development support and time to restructure their classroom practices to eliminate an over-reliance on homework.
We believe that such support and restructuring will help us to ensure that homework can better:
• Support learning and engagement among students, regardless of family background, income level, or caregivers’ educational status.
• Narrow the achievement gap by ensuring that instruction, rehearsal, mastery and remediation happens primarily at school and in the classroom, rather than at home, where resources and instructional support are less equitably distributed.
• Enhance family engagement with schools and students by providing parents and caregivers more opportunities to influence and collaborate on homework policy and practice.
• Provide time for students to develop a rich array of extra-curricular personal interests and to engage in meaningful family, religious, community, creative or athletic activities outside of school.