Graded Homework

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Morning Edition Host Rick Ganley spoke with Mark Mc Laughlin, assistant superintendent for Merrimack, about the new protocol and what it means for teachers and students. For instance, we can't determine the degree to which students have gotten help from outside sources.Of course it's very important to get help, but the issue is if it's going to be graded, how much help makes the grade an inaccurate reflection of what a student knows and is able to do.

Morning Edition Host Rick Ganley spoke with Mark Mc Laughlin, assistant superintendent for Merrimack, about the new protocol and what it means for teachers and students. For instance, we can't determine the degree to which students have gotten help from outside sources.Of course it's very important to get help, but the issue is if it's going to be graded, how much help makes the grade an inaccurate reflection of what a student knows and is able to do.We need to be constantly evaluating: What are we doing? It's early days, and there might be things happening in families, and households and in classrooms that I wouldn't be aware of, and over time, and by that I mean by hopefully the end of our semester, we'll have an evaluation process with our board and we'll really look at that.

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So that we can have real data to be able to see whether or not we need to reteach, or if you really have the concept whether we can enrich.

The bottom line for us has just been that if homework is practice—like 50 questions on a math sheet.

Is it really legitimate if they can go online and search for an answer in particular, or maybe get help from a parent and that kind of thing? Well, what about students who aren't good test takers?

Traditionally, you know, those students could compensate somewhat by being very diligent with homework assignments, and that would help bring their grade up to a certain point.

So, how many students come from families with no support?

How many students come from families who provide just right support?

If formative assessment is the planned classroom practice of eliciting evidence of student learning minute-to-minute, day-by-day then how does homework fit into that definition?

Homework is not something that, by its own definition, is even done in the classroom, yet it can help teachers elicit evidence of student learning.

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