In August 2017, it rolled out an updated policy, which emphasized that homework should be “meaningful” and banned due dates that fell on the day after a weekend or a break.“The first year was a bit bumpy,” says Louann Carlomagno, the district’s superintendent.
She says the adjustment was at times hard for the teachers, some of whom had been doing their job in a similar fashion for a quarter of a century. Carlomagno says they took some time to “realize that it was okay not to have an hour of homework for a second grader—that was new.”Most of the way through year two, though, the policy appears to be working more smoothly.
Cooper says that those latter worries tend to come from a small number of communities with “concerns about being competitive for the most selective colleges and universities.”, considers homework to be a “reliable extinguisher of curiosity,” and has several complaints with the evidence that Cooper and others cite in favor of it.
Kohn notes, among other things, that Cooper’s 2006 meta-analysis doesn’t establish causation, and that its central correlation is based on children’s (potentially unreliable) self-reporting of how much time they spend doing homework.
(Kohn’s prolific writing on the subject alleges numerous other methodological faults.)In fact, other correlations make a compelling case that homework doesn’t help.
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Some countries whose students regularly outperform American kids on standardized tests, such as Japan and Denmark, send their kids home with less schoolwork, while students from some countries with higher homework loads than the U.“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.They feel entitled enough to voice their opinions.”Schneider is all for revisiting taken-for-granted practices like homework, but thinks districts need to take care to be inclusive in that process.“I hear approximately zero middle-class white parents talking about how homework done best in grades K through two actually strengthens the connection between home and school for young people and their families,” he says.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.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.The 21st century has so far been a homework-heavy era, with American teenagers now averaging about twice as much time spent on homework each day as their predecessors did in the 1990s.Even little kids are asked to bring school home with them.