Homework Policies For Elementary Schools

The chancellor's regulation set a minimum nightly homework policy to be monitored by principals.These nightly minimums range from 20 minutes for first and second grades to two hours for ninth through twelfth grades.

Preparation Assignments Intended to provide background information, these assignments can include readings in the class text, library research, collecting materials for a class demonstration, and other activities requiring the gathering or organizing of information before a class discussion or demonstration.

Effective preparation includes guidelines on why and how the assignment should be completed.

Paper presented to the Lehigh Chapter of Phi Delta Kappa, Bethlehem, PA, January 24, 1981.

We have all had time-consuming, monotonous, meaningless homework assigned to us at some point in our life.

Three types are commonly assigned in the United States: practice, preparation, and extension (La Conte 1981).

Practice Assignments Practice assignments reinforce newly acquired skills or knowledge.Frequently long-term, continuing projects that parallel classwork, extension assignments require students to apply previous learnings. The literature examining the relationship between homework and academic achievement is basically inconclusive.No studies have been able to control the many variables that affect this relationship (La Conte 1981; Knorr 1981; and Mc Dermott and others 1984).--Who is responsible for deciding how much homework to assign? While these questions are unlikely to be answered in the same way in all schools and school districts, what can be said is that individualized homework assigned to appropriate grade levels seems to help students develop the disciplined study habits that result in increased scholastic achievement. FOR MORE INFORMATION "Homework Minimum Set for Schools," NEW YORK TIMES, February 10, 1983, Section B, page 3. "Time Spent on Homework and High School Grades: A Large-Sample Path Analysis." JOURNAL OF EDUCATIONAL PSYCHOLOGY 74 (1982):248-253. A SYNTHESIS OF HOMEWORK RESEARCH AND RELATED LITERATURE. These assignments often lead to frustration and boredom and students learn virtually nothing from them.Teachers and schools must reevaluate how and why they assign homework to their students. Assigning homework with a purpose means that through completing the assignment, the student will be able to obtain new knowledge, a new skill, or have a new experience that they may not otherwise have.In addition, accurately estimating a task's level of difficulty and coordinating the assignment of difficult homework among various courses may help teachers avoid overburdening students.Extension Assignments These assignments encourage individualized and creative learning by emphasizing student initiative and research.Students who have learned about a particular chemical reaction, for instance, may be asked to find examples of the reaction in their own environment.These assignments are most effective when carefully evaluated by the teacher, when matched to the ability and background of the individual student, and when students are asked to apply recent learning directly and personally.


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