Is this the end of homework as we know it?

Homework: It’s been the bane of students’ existence since…forever.

As a kid, how many times did you ask to go out and play only to be met with this question from your parents:

“Did you do your homework?”

Homework has long been viewed as a frustrating but necessary part of the school experience.

Now, that thinking may be changing.

Just ask second-grade teacher Brandy Young. When Young sent a note to parents’ of her second-grade students advising them that she would not be assigning homework this school year, the note set the internet abuzz.

Young’s homework policy has shone a light on a long-simmering debate about homework in the nation’s K12 schools.

As a new school year kicks off, it’s a discussion you’ll want to have with parents and students. Here’s why.

The jury’s still out on homework
Young’s short note to parents was written for “Meet-the-Teacher” night in her small Texas school.

“Research has been unable to prove that homework improves student performance,” wrote Young to parents. “Rather, I ask that you spend your evenings doing things that are proven to correlate with student success. Eat dinner as a family, read together, play outside, and get your child to bed early.”

What research does Young reference in her letter?  She doesn’t specifically say.

Homework used to be viewed as a tool to reinforce concepts taught during the school day. If practice makes perfect, the thinking was that homework made good sense.

But more recent research says after-school practice is best in moderation, if at all.

A recent Washington Post report cites a study from the Center for Public Education. That study found that homework doesn’t necessarily correlate to higher student achievement.

“The central lesson of this body of research is that homework is not a strategy that works for all children,” the report’s authors state. “Because of its possible negative effects of decreasing students’ motivation and interest, thereby indirectly impairing performance, homework should be assigned judiciously and moderately.”

According to the New York Times, leading education advocacy groups such as the National PTA and the National Education Association promote a 10-minute per grade level policy. In other words, first graders shouldn’t receive more than 10 minutes of homework per night. Comparably, high school seniors shouldn’t receive more than two hours of homework per night.

A growing number of parents and teachers agree that there is such a thing as too much homework. A Facebook post of Young’s note to parents garnered more than 73,000 shares in more than two weeks. Most of the comments were in support of her policy.

The debate continues
Young’s note has reignited a debate that’s been brewing in education circles, on blogs, and in discussion forums for years.

When it comes to homework, everyone seems to have an opinion.

As a new school year begins, chances are you’ll have similar discussions with parents and others at your schools.

Don’t pass up the opportunity to engage your community in important conversations. Empower students, parents, and staff to contribute to your decision-making—and draft a homework policy that works for your community.

What steps are you taking to engage parents, students, and teachers about homework in your schools? Tell us in the comments.

Looking for an easy way to collect feedback from your school community? Here’s one solution that can help right away.

Author: Todd Kominiak

Todd Kominiak is Managing Editor of TrustED.

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