Last week, five parents in Davis, California, met with the Director of Curriculum and the Associate Superintendent to discuss homework policy. Here’s the report back to the Superintendent:
Today we met with five parents, representatives of the 40 parents who signed the letter to you. The parents expressed numerous concerns with the district’s homework policy adopted in 2003), as well as the length and value of assignments. A complete packet of the parents’ concerns is attached here, along with research material they garnered.
Summary of parent homework concerns:
• Inconsistent practices on quality and length of homework within grade-levels and content areas.
• Lack of collaboration among teachers at the secondary sites when calendaring major assignments, ignoring or circumventing the homework policy and the assignment of repetitious busy work.
• Mental health, emotional and physical stain on student – major lack of sleep and conflict within families over these issues.
• Need for students to have real world experiences, including time for after school jobs, to balance academics and to learn practical skills
• Obsolete grading practices where homework assignments completed outweigh demonstrated content proficiency assessments.
• District culture in which hours of homework are expected, regardless of quality or value to student learning.
We shared perspectives for over an hour and agreed that this issue should be considered by our School Board. We hope that by February, the Board might have the time to begin a conversation with staff and parents.
Our draft timeline to address homework is to bring their packet of information to both the secondary and elementary principal meetings in December, as well as to our Cabinet. We will ask principals to discuss concerns at their staff and department grade level meetings. The parents at the meeting today volunteered to describe the situation they are experiencing to PTA and staff meetings. We will encourage principals to invite the parents for open communication between the staffs and parents in any venues determined by the principals. The parents were encouraged to continue to directly communicate with their students’ teachers and principals.
In January, we can compile information from the sites on actual practices and any progress made for collaboration and consistency. All of the current information and developments can be gathered for the Board packet in February. Hopefully this can be discussed at our next Cabinet meeting to insure that we are all in agreement on steps and timelines.