Liberty, Missouri, Math Teacher Gives Less Homework and Finds Students Learn More

A math teacher from Liberty, Missouri, revamped his own personal homework practice after noticing that his students’ grades were unnecessarily low because they didn’t complete the numerous math problems he assigned. According to KCCommunityNews, the teacher began assigning math homework twice a week, never on weekends, and only a few problems. Then, after discussing and dissecting the assigned problems in class, students sometimes have a “homework quiz,” which counts as their homework grade. “Their grades are now reflecting more of what they know, not what they did at home,” the teacher reported. “They understand their work better, and they communicate about it. Also, in a group setting, they have accountability. It’s working; the number of Ds and Fs is down 10 percent over last semester.”

15 thoughts on “Liberty, Missouri, Math Teacher Gives Less Homework and Finds Students Learn More

  1. I fully agree with you.
    I have been engaged in the practice of less homework and solving problems in detail during warm ups.
    How do you weigth your grades ie how many percent for classroom participation, quizes, tests, etc ..?

    William Thomaz
    4 -8 Math teacher
    Houston ISD

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  2. My 12 year old grandson in Calif. @ Alta Loma USD – middle school is learning to hate school in his 7th grade Algebra class because of his math teacher who gives little instruction, little or no walk around help to students and excessive homework of approx. 90 to 120 min. per night and extra on weekends. After weeks of e-mailing the teacher with my concerns with no feedback, I finally arranged for a during school conference where my concerns were listened to by her and the principal. The teacher implemented my 3 suggestions regarding my grandson almost immediately. She found others not doing any classwork due to lack of understanding until they went home and had parents’ help. His grade of a “B” has not changed, but since Christmas Break, she has resorted to her old ways with limited instruction, NO walk around help during class time; thus, excessive homework. With after school baseball year round and his other excell classes which fortunately give average homework, my grandson is turning off to math and doesn’t care if his grade declines. The principal and the district, of course, are backing the young teachers policy. We could change teachers which will affect a complete schedule change or we can continue pushing him until late at night with this teacher. There is high frustration in the family over this problem. I fear this is a problem in many households. Do you have any suggestions? Hopefully, Mary Ann

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  3. Hi Mary Ann, It sounds as though the first meeting you had with the teacher and principal was productive, given that the teacher implemented your suggestions. Perhaps the teacher just needs a gentle reminder, either by email or another conference. As you know, it’s hard to change people’s habits. So, although this teacher sounds as though she wanted to do the right thing, she fell back into her old habits pretty quickly, probably without even realizing it.

    And, try to enlist a few other parents to say something to her, or the principal, as well.

    Good luck. And please keep us posted.

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  4. Foolish. The fact that too much homework causes stress reflects more on the distraction and priorities of children and their parents rather than the inherent uselessness of homework. Our children go to school less than other the world’s leading nations yet we are shocked at our under-performance. Here’s something to go with: we send our kids to school with the objective of having fun. Other cultures, as we once did, send their kids to school with the objective of working and building discipline. Oh, homework causes stress for children. Well life is stressful! Are you people serious? We treating children like fragile saplings instead of growing them into mighty redwoods! Not everything in life is fun, and often it’s that which isn’t fun that becomes extremely crucial. In the end, if half the time spent whining and wasting time was spent on accomplishing the daily allotment of homework, there would be free time to spare, and this is coming from an adult who made the same mistake as a child. I went to college under-prepared and paid for it there. How can we continue to push these ridiculous theories, continue to see a degradation in our performance globally, yet stay dogmatically tied to our original philosophy? Stop feeling sorry for children, they are as capable as we build them to be. And they’ll thank you for it in adulthood.

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  5. Dan Stephens- You stated that the stress homework causes reflects more on “the distractions and priorities of children and their parents.” It seems to me that what you’re saying here is that you think that children often don’t see homework to be very important, possibly as a result of having parents who share similar views, so they whine about it. However I think you might see that perhaps it is those children who do think their homework is important who become most stressed, because they worry about getting it all right. This could be even more so if they consistently get high marks and are now striving for perfection because they, and their classmates, expect it of them. I think that kids who don’t care about homework are more annoyed than stressed about it.

    Homework is not necessarily crucial- in its current form, anyway. Some homework that is assigned is just busywork, assigned primarily because it is expected of the teacher. Some may argue that even homework of this kind can build good study habits, but I disagree. I find that the amount of homework I have is inversely proportional to my desire to learn. When I have homework I have more of a tendency to just do the homework, get it over with and then avoid anything related to school, but when I have little to no homework, I study- mainly maths, French and Chinese as these are subjects that I have found that I am passionate about. As I am also passionate about music, I sometimes write compositions or play the piano (clarinet is my main instrument at the moment). I think that more crucial than setting homework are the tasks of getting rid of that idea that doing extra work not set by the teacher is “nerdy” and conveying the message that you should have a desire to learn more and more.

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  6. I totally I gree I am a student here in nevada and I have all honor classes. I can bearly keep up with my homework and it is causing me way too much stress. It affects the way I learn in class because by the time I am in class I am just too tier to even stay focus. I am telling you teachers should change their rules. Homework is no longer helping us but distroying us!

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  7. I find that some low-income school systems systematically have removed homework so less children fail. What ends up happening is that rigor goes away, and you end up with children with no study and or work habits. I’ve seen Valedictorians and Salutorians fail out of college because they weren’t prepared for … guess what..??? HOMEWORK!

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