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If a child wants to learn to play the violin, it’s obvious she needs to practice at home between lessons (at least, it’s obvious to an adult).And psychologists have identified a range of strategies that help students learn, many of which seem ideally suited for homework assignments.A homework assignment could require students to answer questions about what was covered in class that day without consulting their notes.
In 2016, a second-grade teacher in Texas delighted her students—and at least some of their parents—by announcing she would no longer assign homework.
“Research has been unable to prove that homework improves student performance,” she explained.
Even if teachers do manage to assign effective homework, it may not show up on the measures of achievement used by researchers—for example, standardized reading test scores.
Those tests are designed to measure general reading comprehension skills, not to assess how much students have learned in specific classes.
But Cooper’s study isn’t black and white: There were modest gains for middle and high school students, so it looks like the developmental window of early childhood is the place where homework isn’t necessarily beneficial.
Recently, Heidi Maier, the new superintendent of Marion County in FL, which has 42,000 students made national news because she not only is banning homework, but is replacing it with 20 minutes of reading per night.Said differently: Homework has become just busy work in the United States, and children aren’t learning anything additional from it.And let’s be honest, at one point a child’s homework becomes a parents homework and even I’m regularly guilty of pulling my calculator out to double check my child’s work.The following year, the superintendent of a Florida school district serving 42,000 students eliminated homework for all elementary students and replaced it with twenty minutes of nightly reading, saying she was basing her decision on “solid research about what works best in improving academic achievement in students.” Many other elementary schools seem to have quietly adopted similar policies.Critics have objected that even if homework doesn’t increase grades or test scores, it has other benefits, like fostering good study habits and providing parents with a window into what kids are doing in school.Good homework assignments might have helped a student learn a lot about, say, Ancient Egypt.But if the reading passages on a test cover topics like life in the Arctic or the habits of the dormouse, that student’s test score may well not reflect what she’s learned."Some schools are eliminating homework, citing research showing it doesn’t do much to boost achievement.Some schools are eliminating homework, citing research showing it doesn’t do much to boost achievement.But maybe teachers just need to assign a different kind of homework.These are things that schools of education and teacher-prep programs typically don’t teach.So it’s quite possible that much of the homework teachers assign just isn’t particularly effective for many students.