Rethinking Homework

Rethinking Homework-70
Nikolas Keeley, a fifth-grade student at the Farley Elementary School in Stony Point, has circulated a petition calling for homework to be abolished.

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Key changes for this fall include eliminating all home assignments on weekends and school breaks for grades K through 12 and setting daily time limits on home assignments through sixth grade."There was a concern about homework practices, the stress that it added and that it did not support classroom achievement the way it was supposed to," said Assistant Superintendent for Educational Services Kris Felicello.

Nikolas Keeley, left, a fifth-grade student at the Farley Elementary School in Stony Point, John Mc Elroy, a senior at North Rockland High School, North Rockland School Assistant Superintendent Kris Felicello, and fifth-grader Christopher De Leon, are all part of a team created by the school district to examine how homework is assigned.

' I immediately saw a change in him."She said she uses homework as "practice," which is an unconventional approach to some of her colleagues."We have to change along with the kids," she said.

"The changes will now force us to change things and look for ways to do things differently."Felicello hopes that North Rockland can start a domino effect in Rockland County."Each school is doing their own thing to foster a better educational environment for their students," he said.

In 1901, the state of California voted to abolish homework for children under the age of 15. In 1994—nearly a century later—a district just north of San Francisco entertained the same notion when a member of the school board proposed banning homework from the school curriculum.

This time the proposal was rejected: the 3,700 students in the Cabrillo Unified State District still have to do their homework.

The district spent three years reviewing its traditional policy on homework and reached a conclusion that countless students and parents reached long ago: Rote homework assignments discourage student motivation and contribute little to learning.

The point of home learning, by contrast, is to make after-school assignments both more limited and more purposeful.

But he was adamant that the change is needed."There is no research out there that supports positive student achievement at the elementary level in terms of homework," he said.

After reviewing 20 years of research on homework effectiveness, Duke University professor Harris Cooper found a stronger correlation between homework and achievement in middle and high school, and that too much homework can be counterproductive at all levels.

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