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Down With Homework: Teacher's Viral Note Tells Of Growing Attitude

In the blink of a few thousand likes and shares, Texas teacher Brandy Young's homework policy gained the viral notoriety normally reserved for tip-shaming.

Earlier this month, Young informed parents of her Godley Elementary second-graders of her policy for the year: no homework.

"After much research this summer, I am trying something new," read a note. "I ask that you spend your evenings doing things that are proven to correlate with student success. Eat dinner as a family, read together, play outside, and get your children to bed early."

A parent of one of her students posted the note to Facebook with the comment: "Brooke is loving her new teacher already!"

Novelty aside, Young's note echoes recent decisions by schools on their homework policies.

In Maryland, Baltimore County schools removed homework and conduct from its criteria for overall grades.

"Homework assignments provide students with an additional opportunity to practice, deepen their understanding, and/or increase progress toward meeting standards and expectations. ... [T]he results from homework should be used to provide feedback, and the scores should be entered as a nongraded assignment ..." reads a report published by the school district.

And Homedale Elementary in southwest Idaho went a step further, instituting a schoolwide ban, reports KTVB.

"When the kids go home I want them to play, and create and use their imaginations and spend time with family," said Principal Terri Vasquez to the station.

Parents at the school expressed relief at the policy, KTVB goes on to report, with one parent telling the station her oldest son had up to an hour of homework every night while in first grade.

"We're in tons of extracurricular activities so it was a constant locking of horns as soon as he got home: 'Hurry up, do your homework, eat your dinner, you know?' " said Tarah Uranga.

National Education Association standards suggest limiting the after-class workload to 10-20 minutes a night for first-graders, and adding 10 minutes for each grade after that. As NPR's Cory Turner reported last year, those standards are mostly adhered to:

"The best answer comes from something called the National Assessment of Educational Progress, or NAEP. In 2012, students in three different age groups — 9, 13 and 17 — were asked, 'How much time did you spend on homework yesterday?' The vast majority of 9-year-olds (79 percent) and 13-year-olds (65 percent) and still a majority of 17-year-olds (53 percent) all reported doing an hour or less of homework the day before.

"Another study from the National Center for Education Statistics found that high school students who reported doing homework outside of school did, on average, about seven hours a week. ...

"In that 2012 NAEP survey, 13 percent of 17-year-olds reported doing more than two hours of homework the previous night. That's not a lot of students, but they're clearly doing a lot of work."

Cory adds: "The fact is, some students do have a ton of homework. In high school we see a kind of student divergence — between those who choose or find themselves tracked into less-rigorous coursework and those who enroll in honors classes or multiple Advanced Placement courses."

Copyright 2020 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Jason Slotkin
KCUR serves the Kansas City region with breaking news and award-winning podcasts.
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