The Las Virgenes Unified School District is releasing this month the long awaited guidelines on homework for all the schools in the district. You’ll note that these are called “guidelines” as they are not policy, and they are to provide a common point for principals and teachers to make decisions as to appropriate levels of homework.
The guidelines define homework as any work approved by the teacher to by completed outside of the regular classroom hours, usually due with in the day or a few days of instruction. This differs from projects which may span weeks, months or the school year.
Homework should be skill-level appropriate and relate in a meaningful way to ongoing classroom instruction. And, there are guidelines suggested for how much homework (see sections in full article).
Clearly, having the guidelines in place gives parents, teachers and administrators a common frame of reference to discuss, plan and adjust. You should read the complete guidelines which are less than 6 pages, and are available through the district.
Here are the highlights of that document. The full text of the document is available at http://www.lvusd.k12.ca.us/webapps/portal/images/do/education/homework%201-29-08.pdf
There are several purposes behind homework and projects for the student. Completion helps the student keep up-to-date with classroom work. Preparation helps to make the most of the next day’s classroom instruction. Practice and application allows the student to develop, review and reinforce skills, or to transfer skills/concepts into new learning. And lastly, extension and creativity helps to enrich classroom experiences, to provide new ways to apply skills/thinking, to integrate skills, etc…
“Teachers may grade specific homework assignments to assess student learning. Teachers may also give credit for completed homework assignments without grading for accuracy or performance on the assignment.” Furthermore, “Long-term projects may carry a greater weight in grading than regular homework assignments.”
When it comes to planning, “Teachers are to inform students and parents at the beginning of each school year regarding homework and project requirements and how much each counts in the student’s final semester grade.” And, students cannot be penalized for any excused absence when missed assignments are completed within a reasonable time frame.
It may not be practical for teachers to provide in-depth feedback on homework, and parents/students should not expect that. That said, the guidelines lay out what teachers should do:
* Design the homework for one of the appropriate purposes;
* Design the homework so that it can be accomplished by the child independent of direct support from others;
* Clearly communicate to the student the purpose, directions, and expectations for all homework assignments, including consequences for not completing assigned work;
* Clearly establish and communicate to parents the general purpose and expectations for homework, and encourage feedback regarding quantity and difficulty of homework.
* Provide timely and appropriate feedback to students and parents using strategies that will acknowledge receipt, monitor for completion and accuracy, and give timely feedback.
Students are responsible for a variety of important duties as well. Each student should:
* Have a system for recording homework assignments on a daily basis;
* Have a clear understanding of the homework assignments before leaving school;
* Have the books and materials necessary to complete the assigned homework;
* Allocate an appropriate amount of time daily for the completion of homework;
* Turn in homework assignments when due.
Lastly, parents have a role in homework. However, according to the district, “the research is also clear that parents should not assume responsibility for the actual completion of the student’s homework.” Parents are therefore responsible to provide:
* Time for students to complete homework;
* A place for students to complete homework;
* The basic materials needed;
* The expectation for homework to be completed and turned in when due;
* The supervision necessary to ensure successful completion of homework;
According to the districts new administrative regulation (AR 6154), “Research suggests that, in general, students who do complete assignments outside of school have higher achievement scores than students who do not.” Further, the regulation says “The research (Marzano, et. al) indicates that the effectiveness of homework in improving student performance increases with the age of the child.”
The district is very clear. “These standards are guidelines only. Specific minimums or maximums are difficult to establish since the amount of relevant homework may vary from week to week or month to month. The actual time required for assignments may vary with the individual student’s study habits, skills of the individual student, class load and difficulty of a student’s schedule of classes. In addition to regularly scheduled homework, teachers may request that students continue with independent reading outside of the regular classroom activities. Students are also encouraged to pursue non-assigned leisure reading at all grade levels as well.”
Furthermore, principals at each site continue to be responsible for what they think is best at their school.
Homework may be assigned generally Monday through Thursday evenings. Major projects should be discussed by the teacher at the beginning of the year.
Kindergarten: 0-20 minutes/day, 0-60 min/week
First/Second: 20-30 minutes/day, 40-90 min/week
Third: 30-40 minutes/day, 90-160 min/week
Fourth: 40-60 minutes/day, 2-4 hours/week
Fifth: 60 minutes/day, 3-4 hours/week
Middle School Students
“At the beginning of each school year, site administrators should scheduled grade-level meetings to determine what major instructional activities need school/grade-level coordination,” according to the guidelines. And, “Students taking honors, accelerated or advanced classes may have additional weekly hours of assigned work.”
Homework may be assigned generally Monday through Friday evenings.
Sixth grade: 5-10 weekly hours
Seventh grade: 8-10 weekly hours
Eighth grade: 8-14 weekly hours
Same as Middle School, except look for 12-20+ weekly hours.