(Even if you’re not a New Yorker, please read today’s post. I suspect that many other states have similar guidelines.)
Yesterday, I suggested finding out your school, district, or state guidelines on summer homework. A few months ago, I followed the very steps I suggested yesterday for my own state (New York) and I discovered that in May, 2009, the New York State Board of Education sent a memorandum to all District Superintendents, all Principals, and all Chairs of the English Language Arts Departments throughout the state. Titled, “Guidance on Locally Required Summer Reading Assignments,” the memo set forth guidance and suggestions for developing acceptable required summer reading assignments.
Here’s what the guidelines state:
Where a district/school chooses to require a summer reading assignment, it must comply with the following:
* If books are to be used as part of a mandatory assignment, a school district must ensure that they are reasonably available to all students at no cost. Although a school district may indicate that books may be purchased, students cannot be required to purchase any books.
* Class grades should reflect work done under a teacher’s direction and supervision. There must be sufficient opportunity for students to obtain teacher guidance and instruction before completing a graded assignment.
There are several other requirements including that if students are unable to reach teachers by phone, by email, or in person, then students should be permitted to complete the assignment upon returning to school.
What interests me about my discovery is that if schools were to follow the guidelines, it is unlikely that they would assign summer homework. It would just be too difficult, too costly, and teachers would have to be on hand to provide “guidance and instruction.” But as long as no one knows about the guidelines, and no one asks that the school enforce them, schools will continue to assign summer homework. In fact, even though the guidelines were issued over a year ago, every New York State student I heard from got homework last summer.
Tomorrow: How to get schools to follow the guidelines.