Stop Homework a resource created by Sara Bennett, co-author of The Case Against Homework: How Homework Is Hurting Our Children and What We Can Do About It.

Archive for Success Stories

California School District Abolishes Homework for Elementary and Middle School

The Helendale School District in California is instituting a no-homework policy for students in K-8th grade beginning this fall. According to vvdailypress, “First- through sixth-graders will complete any independent work during daily lessons, while seventh- and eighth-graders will get an added ‘homework time’ class period.”

Which school district will be next?

Fourth Grade Teacher: “I Did Away With Reading Logs”

A few posts ago, I wrote about the blog of Angela Bunyi, a fourth grade teacher from Murfreesboro, Tennessee. Ms. Bunyi then write to me:

Thanks for sharing my article under Scholastic (Homework: Applying Research to Policy) and my note from the homework page on my class site. I wanted to add to your readers ongoing discussion about reading logs. I did away with them this year. I also did away with a specific reading time at home.

Why? First, I don’t want students reading to the clock. The thought of seeing “30 minutes” read for child after child in the daily reading log is really, really sad if you think about it. My goal is for students to get “lost” in their homework.

Second, I did away with reading logs because they were a pain for all involved. When I did use them, I found my best readers didn’t fill them out. Now I just meet with my kids during reading conference time to talk about their reading habits at home. When a student was on page 35 the day before and they are on page 75 the next morning, why push a log? I can do the math! The proof is with the pace of finishing books in your room each week.

Boulder, Colorado Schools Reserve After School for Play, not Homework

Kerry Dickinson, the Danville, California mom who helped change homework policy in her school district last year, put me in touch with Debbie Cohune, a mother of four, who recently moved to Boulder, Colorado, from Danville. To Debbie’s delight, she discovered that her children’s new schools-elementary, middle, and high–have little to no homework. Here’s what she told me:

The most amazing part of my kids middle school is the “back to school night” philosophy had an emphasis on “how we are going to teach your children” rather than “how we are going to grade your children” as was our Danville experience. One of the science teachers said “I have your children for 50 minutes a day and I think that is enough. After school should be reserved for family time and outside interests. Also, there is no late work in my class. All work must be completed and turned in, but I don’t care how fast your children learn, but rather that they learn.”

My children are all required to read 20 minutes each night. Homework is any work that they did not complete in class. They have time in class to work on daily assignments (and have the ability to ask questions to their teachers when they are confused) and projects. If they do not complete the work in class they bring it home to finish. The after school load is no more than 30 minutes plus reading. Some days there is only reading.

In Danville we spent several hours a day with weekly tutors to finish homework. The kids were stressed, I was stressed and their grades suffered. They were teaching to the test which is an environment that my children to not do well in. Boulder Valley School District has not as of yet succumbed to that philosophy and as a result my children are again excited about learning. They actually come home from school and tell me what they learned today. I must say that never happened in Danville.

England’s Newest (and Largest) School Won’t Have Homework

Nottingham East Academy, slated to open next year, will be England’s largest school with 3570 students, from nursery school to age 19. The school will have no homework, but instead will have an extra lesson a days. According to the principal-to-be, “If you ask most heads what most detentions are for, they will tell you for non-completion of homework. Homework causes an enormous amount of home conflict and parents and the community certainly won’t mind children coming home later. It is often set simply because there is an expectation it should be set. It does not help with education at all.” Read more here.

Boys’ School near London, England Cuts Way Back on Homework

The Tiffin School, ranked as the 2nd best boys’ state school in England, has limited homework to 40 minutes per night–a huge drop from the four hours a night the boys had been doing. After spending two years examining its teaching and learning in class, the school concluded that much of the homework was “mechanistic” and “repetitive.” Read the story here.

Baltimore School Implements Innovative Homework Policy

I came across an article about the Jemicy School in Baltimore, where homework is minimal and tailored to the needs of each student. According to PRNewswire.com,

Parents often assume hours of homework lends better test scores and greater comprehension for their students, but Jemicy School of Owings Mills and Towson takes a much different stance and data shows they may be on to something.

The educational structure and lifestyles of students in the 21st century is different than past generations. With the rise of technology, schedules packed with sports and extra-curricular activities, and significant amounts of homework each night, there is little time for free play or even comprehension of daily activities. The latest research on the brain shows that the brain requires time to relax, absorb, and process information in order for it to register within long term memory.

The Jemicy School has implemented this research into their curriculum and tailors homework to the individual needs of each child, with assignments consisting of skills which have already been mastered versus new concepts. This method prevents children from developing their own,
often detrimental methods of comprehending new concepts.
Read the rest of this entry »

Canadian Elementary School Bans Homework

Welcome back to Stop Homework.

And what better way to start off the school year than with encouraging news from an elementary school in Barrie, Ontario, Canada, north of Toronto, which just banned homework. Among the reasons:

    * there is no clear link between homework and academic achievement
    * poor students are at a distinct disadvantage
    * homework causes problems for families, including contributing to marital stress

Read about it here.

With a lot of hard work on our part, we can get other schools and districts to follow suit.

In upcoming posts, I’ll let you know what parents are doing in their communities to change the tide.

Guest Blogger: Victory in Toronto

Today’s guest blogger, Frank Bruni, the father of a 12-year-old seventh grader, lives in Toronto, Canada. Frank was a driving force in pushing the Toronto District School Board to review and revamp its homework policy. You can read Frank’s other guest blog entries here and here.

Just Start
by Frank Bruni

On April 16th 2008, Toronto Canada became one of the first jurisdictions in North America to pass a substantive homework reform policy.

The policy reduces the homework burden on middle school and high school students and all but eliminates homework in the elementary grades. In addition, homework will no longer be allowed during vacations.

The new policy mandates that teacher’s co-ordinate their efforts and that the homework that is sent home is “clearly articulated and carefully planned” and “require no additional teaching outside the classroom”.

This policy is a major breakthrough for those of us who have been advocating for homework reform.
Read the rest of this entry »

Hooray for Toronto, Canada

The Toronto School Board has just implemented the best homework policy I’ve seen. The policy, which will affect close to 300,000 students, focuses on quality, not quantity, suggests that homework in the early grades be limited to reading, talks at length about the value of family time, and recommends that all homework assignments be differentiated. I hope that the Toronto policy becomes a model for other school district across Canada and in the U.S. as well. You can read all about the policy in my earlier blog post here.

Homework Abolished in First and Second Grade in Shanghai

According to shanghaidaily.com, the Shanghai Education Commission has cancelled homework for first and second graders. The move is part of a push to ease the study burden on young students.

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