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Students spend three times longer on homework than average, survey reveals
Sonya Kulkarni and Pallavi Gorantla | Jan 9, 2022
Graphic by Sonya Kulkarni
The National Education Association and the National Parent Teacher Association have suggested that a healthy number of hours that students should be spending can be determined by the “10-minute rule.” This means that each grade level should have a maximum homework time incrementing by 10 minutes depending on their grade level (for instance, ninth-graders would have 90 minutes of homework, 10th-graders should have 100 minutes, and so on).
As ‘finals week’ rapidly approaches, students not only devote effort to attaining their desired exam scores but make a last attempt to keep or change the grade they have for semester one by making up homework assignments.
High schoolers reported doing an average of 2.7 hours of homework per weeknight, according to a study by the Washington Post from 2018 to 2020 of over 50,000 individuals. A survey of approximately 200 Bellaire High School students revealed that some students spend over three times this number.
The demographics of this survey included 34 freshmen, 43 sophomores, 54 juniors and 54 seniors on average.
When asked how many hours students spent on homework in a day on average, answers ranged from zero to more than nine with an average of about four hours. In contrast, polled students said that about one hour of homework would constitute a healthy number of hours.
Junior Claire Zhang said she feels academically pressured in her AP schedule, but not necessarily by the classes.
“The class environment in AP classes can feel pressuring because everyone is always working hard and it makes it difficult to keep up sometimes.” Zhang said.
A total of 93 students reported that the minimum grade they would be satisfied with receiving in a class would be an A. This was followed by 81 students, who responded that a B would be the minimum acceptable grade. 19 students responded with a C and four responded with a D.
“I am happy with the classes I take, but sometimes it can be very stressful to try to keep up,” freshman Allyson Nguyen said. “I feel academically pressured to keep an A in my classes.”
Up to 152 students said that grades are extremely important to them, while 32 said they generally are more apathetic about their academic performance.
Last year, nine valedictorians graduated from Bellaire. They each achieved a grade point average of 5.0. HISD has never seen this amount of valedictorians in one school, and as of now there are 14 valedictorians.
“I feel that it does degrade the title of valedictorian because as long as a student knows how to plan their schedule accordingly and make good grades in the classes, then anyone can be valedictorian,” Zhang said.
Bellaire offers classes like physical education and health in the summer. These summer classes allow students to skip the 4.0 class and not put it on their transcript. Some electives also have a 5.0 grade point average like debate.
Close to 200 students were polled about Bellaire having multiple valedictorians. They primarily answered that they were in favor of Bellaire having multiple valedictorians, which has recently attracted significant acclaim .
Senior Katherine Chen is one of the 14 valedictorians graduating this year and said that she views the class of 2022 as having an extraordinary amount of extremely hardworking individuals.
“I think it was expected since freshman year since most of us knew about the others and were just focused on doing our personal best,” Chen said.
Chen said that each valedictorian achieved the honor on their own and deserves it.
“I’m honestly very happy for the other valedictorians and happy that Bellaire is such a good school,” Chen said. “I don’t feel any less special with 13 other valedictorians.”
Nguyen said that having multiple valedictorians shows just how competitive the school is.
“It’s impressive, yet scary to think about competing against my classmates,” Nguyen said.
Offering 30 AP classes and boasting a significant number of merit-based scholars Bellaire can be considered a competitive school.
“I feel academically challenged but not pressured,” Chen said. “Every class I take helps push me beyond my comfort zone but is not too much to handle.”
Students have the opportunity to have off-periods if they’ve met all their credits and are able to maintain a high level of academic performance. But for freshmen like Nguyen, off periods are considered a privilege. Nguyen said she usually has an hour to five hours worth of work everyday.
“Depending on the day, there can be a lot of work, especially with extra curriculars,” Nguyen said. “Although, I am a freshman, so I feel like it’s not as bad in comparison to higher grades.”
According to the survey of Bellaire students, when asked to evaluate their agreement with the statement “students who get better grades tend to be smarter overall than students who get worse grades,” responders largely disagreed.
Zhang said that for students on the cusp of applying to college, it can sometimes be hard to ignore the mental pressure to attain good grades.
“As a junior, it’s really easy to get extremely anxious about your GPA,” Zhang said. “It’s also a very common but toxic practice to determine your self-worth through your grades but I think that we just need to remember that our mental health should also come first. Sometimes, it’s just not the right day for everyone and one test doesn’t determine our smartness.”
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Anonymous • Nov 21, 2023 at 10:32 am
It’s not really helping me understand how much.
josh • May 9, 2023 at 9:58 am
Kassie • May 6, 2022 at 12:29 pm
Im using this for an English report. This is great because on of my sources needed to be from another student. Homework drives me insane. Im glad this is very updated too!!
Kaylee Swaim • Jan 25, 2023 at 9:21 pm
I am also using this for an English report. I have to do an argumentative essay about banning homework in schools and this helps sooo much!
Izzy McAvaney • Mar 15, 2023 at 6:43 pm
I am ALSO using this for an English report on cutting down school days, homework drives me insane!!
E. Elliott • Apr 25, 2022 at 6:42 pm
I’m from Louisiana and am actually using this for an English Essay thanks for the information it was very informative.
Nabila Wilson • Jan 10, 2022 at 6:56 pm
Interesting with the polls! I didn’t realize about 14 valedictorians, that’s crazy.
- August 3, 2023
- Featured , Study Tips
How much homework should you be doing at high school?
Discussions about the merits of homework and how much or how little you should be doing have been raging for decades, but there is no one definitive answer about what the optimal amount of homework is or should be.
But you’re not here to hear how hard it is to work out how much homework and study you should be doing, you just want to know how much is enough.
We’re going to get to that in just a minute, but there are a few things to cover off first…
- Excessive studying is unlikely to dramatically increase your academic outcomes.
- Excessive study can be extremely bad for your physical and mental health.
- Academic results are just one factor in your success, and excessive study can reduce the time and energy you have for other resume-boosting activities.
Too much study could be detrimental
Nothing is more important than your physical and mental health.
If you are:
- Struggling at school
- Feeling worried, anxious, or nervous about going to school or managing your workload
- Often getting sick or not able to shake off colds and illnesses
- Experiencing regular headaches, stomach problems, or unexplained weight loss or gains
- Losing sleep
Then it’s really important that you speak to your parents / guardians as well as your teachers at school to let them know what’s going on and get some help. All of the above have been linked to excessive workloads and poor life balance in students across multiple studies.
Working over the recommended limits of homework could also be reducing your motivation and focus, which won’t help you kick your academic goals.
You’ll also have less time to rest, exercise, play sport or take part in other hobbies, work, and spend time with family and friends which are all important factors in your development and social-emotional wellbeing too.
There’s lots of research to back this up
Homework and study is helpful to consolidate what you’ve been taught in the classroom, in learning to manage your own time successfully and to develop your study skills. But it’s not the only thing that counts.
Quality homework and study is far more important than spending mindless hours covering the same work again and again. Educational guru John Hattie ranks the effects of homework at 88 out of 138 influences on learning.
“Homework that is meaningful and driven by student input is linked to improving attitudes, knowledge and student retention…” (Corno, 2000)
In fact, there’s no link between the volume of study and academic outcomes – Korea, Japan, and Finland, for example, are countries who assign the least amounts of homework but are ranked among top countries for reading, maths and writing ( Programme of International Student Achievement (PISA) results from 2015 ).
Regardless of the quality of study, if it exceeds a certain limit then it will lead to a decline in performance .
Moderate amounts of time spent on homework are linked to better results, but a great deal … of time spent on homework is actually less productive. This means when middle school students spend more than an hour and a half a night there is a correlation with lower scores. (Cooper, et al., 2006)
A 2015 study also found that middle school students assigned more than 90 to 100 minutes of daily homework began to see a fall in their maths and science test scores (Fernández-Alonso, Suárez-Álvarez, & Muñiz, 2015 ).
One more thing to bear in mind
If you decide to go university after high school, the expectation is that you’ll be studying for around 40 hours per week, and that includes all of your lectures, seminars, and tutorials (it’s the also the equivalent of a full-time working role).
So if you’re doing 30 hours of school and thinking that you need to do a further 20 or more hours of study each week, then you’d be doing more than if you were studying at university or working full-time.
Remember that work-life balance is important at all ages and is a great skill to master early in life.
So, how much homework should you be doing?
We have looked at a number of scholarly articles and studies and this is what we’ve found:
- Students in middle school should aim to do up to one hour of homework per weekday.
- For students in lower senior school between one and two hours a day is reasonable.
- If you’re in upper senior school then studying for 2 hours per day is a good amount of time to aim for.
Bear in mind that these times could vary depending on your workload. For example, if you’re taking more subjects than other students in your cohort, or if you’re taking part in extra programs, then the amount of study you may have to do could increase.
Around assessment and exam time then you might find you’re reaching the upper limits of the recommended homework times too, and that’s normal, but it shouldn’t be the norm for your entire school year.
The other thing to remember is that you don’t need to do all this study in big blocks – you can break it up. Read your notes on the bus or train on the way to school, watch a documentary that relates to your classwork, or start a project that extends what you’ve been doing at school. You can also count time spent studying with friends, or even talking with peers about your subjects, as long as you’re either learning or revising.
Ready to start studying?
Great! To get the most out of your study time we recommend that you:
- Get organised. Make sure you have everything you need including a work space that helps you to focus without distractions if possible. Your school or community library perhaps if home is too busy?
- Work out when your peak study times are – are you an early bird or a night owl?
- Write a Study Plan and, most importantly, stick to it .
- Remember to incorporate breaks into your study time.
“After about 15 minutes of learning and practising something – such as the Pythagorean theorem in maths – the regions of the brain activated in spatial-numerical learning get fatigued and need to rebuild the neurotransmitters, such as dopamine, that get depleted. The restoration only takes a few minutes if the break is timely, but if they are pushed to stay with that same process for too long, stress builds, neurotransmitters drop way down and it will take twice as long to restore full efficiency to that area of the brain.” – Judy Willis
If you’re looking for more study tips and ideas, we’ve got lots to share – head over to this page .
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Homework and hourly averages: How OPHS does after-school assignments
Students average three to five hours of homework per day, according to 72-student survey
By Bailey Andera , Charlotte Nicks , Sophia Lippel , and Amanda Dermott November 23, 2020
Click here if unable to see above. ( Photo courtesy of Unsplash )
According to the Washington Post , a study conducted by Challenge Success from 2018 to 2020 concluded that on average, high schoolers did about 2.7 hours of homework per weeknight. A survey of 72 Oak Park High School students revealed that one spent over three times that in a given day, and others consistently exceeded the 2.7-hour average.
When asked how many hours students spent on homework in a day, answers ranged from zero hours to 12. Answers also varied based on the day of the week, but the average result was anywhere from 3 hours to 5 hours per day.
Freshmen had a mean number of 6.3 classes in their schedules; sophomores had 6.1; juniors had 5.9; and, seniors had 4.7. Sophomores averaged about 1.6 AP or Honors classes in their schedules, while juniors and seniors averaged at 3.2 and 2.0, respectively.
Most experts, like the National Education Association and the National Parent Teacher Association (PTA), have concluded that a healthy amount of homework falls in line with the “10-minute rule.” Essentially, each grade level elicits a maximum of 10 minutes of homework (where ninth-graders should acceptably have 90 minutes of homework, 10th-graders should have 100 minutes, etc.).
28 students replied that they felt that a healthy amount of homework is about 1 hour to 5 hours per week, though the number was closely followed by 6 hours to 10 hours per week, which 26 students had chosen. However, only 20 students replied that they actually did 1 hour to 5 hours per week, and the same number of students replied with 6 to 10 hours. Fourteen students replied that their homework levels averaged at about 11 hours to 15 hours per week, seven reported 16 hours to 20 hours per week, no students reported 21 hours to 25 hours, five reported 26 hours to 30 hours and six reported 31 hours or more.
Junior Harshitha Dasari, however, finds that her homework load is just the right amount for her classes, not too copious or tedious. Nonetheless, with her five AP classes, Dasari spends most of her time studying and preparing for tests, not working on mandated assignments.
“I think about three hours of homework a night with three hours of studying sounds like a healthy amount of homework,” Dasari wrote to the Talon.
48 students also reported that the minimum grade they would be happy receiving in a class would be a B. This was followed by 17 students, who responded that an A would have to be the minimum. Six students responded with a C, and one responded with a D.
Freshman Hunter Glass feels that OPHS is home to a somewhat fast-paced learning environment from what he has seen so far. However, due to the fact that he has yet to be on campus whilst learning, he is unsure of whether or not he could give an answer which fully encompasses his thoughts on what the environment is like.
Glass expressed that he feels that his parents and teachers expect him to perform well, and that at OPHS, it can be “kind of embarrassing” if one chooses not to take more difficult classes.
“I put pressure on myself because I don’t want to be seen as stupid or dumb by my peers,” Glass wrote to the Talon. “I think we do better in school if we have competition. I also think this puts negative pressure on students and causes us to feel overwhelmed.”
For junior Jaren Hyde, however, most of his academic pressure stems from himself and friends, not the environment generated by OPHS. He spins this “pressure” into a source of motivation in hopes of attempting to excel in track while balancing it with school.
“Friends can give some pressure, but it personally helps motivate me to improve,” Hyde wrote to the Talon. “It just depends on your mindset.”
In a similar manner, Dasari utilizes the competitive spirit of her peers as fuel to work harder.
“Although, at times, Oak Park’s competitive atmosphere can be challenging and nerve-racking, I try to find the positives and use it as a motivator,” Dasari wrote.
Senior Preksha Rao also feels that there are both benefits and downsides to learning in a highly competitive academic environment. She takes a mix of rigorous and slightly easier courses, as her mom made her promise to not take a “boatload of AP courses” after having seen the impact which it had on her and her twin sister, Prerana Rao.
She also feels that the courses one takes and the grades one receives in school have nearly nothing to do with a person’s intellect.
“A person has a unique set of traits that make them excel in one area or another. School and the grading system only offers one area to excel in,” Rao wrote to the Talon.
According to the survey of OPHS students, when asked to rate how much they agree with the statement “kids who get better grades tend to be more intelligent than kids who get worse grades” (on a scale of 1 to 6, where 6 is “strongly agree” and 1 is “strongly disagree”), answers largely varied based upon grade level. For instance, 31.25% of all juniors chose 1, “strongly disagree.” By contrast, freshmen and sophomores tended to choose 4, while seniors tended towards 4 and 1.
Hyde, who opted to take all CP courses and one honors class in favor of sparing time for athletics, tends to agree with this assumption. For him, Oak Park’s environment has created a stigma where people taking AP classes and receiving better grades are generally seen as more intellectual.
“I feel like Oak Park has made an environment that causes people to feel smarter by taking higher-level classes,” Hyde wrote. “It gets to the point where everyone else below them is viewed as dumb when, really, they are just average.”
Rao believes that the amount of work a student receives should not be proportional to the difficulty of the classes which that student takes. She feels that assigned practice which is then graded can act as pressure to understand material in a short time, which can have a negative impact on a student’s learning.
“I don’t think [that] anyone needs any more work than they have right now. For me personally, I find it more beneficial when a teacher assigns less work because I motivate myself to study and practice how I want to, so I can understand it,” Rao wrote.
This story was originally published on The Oak Park Talon on November 17, 2020.
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High Schools Assign 3.5 Hours of Homework a Night, Survey Estimates
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Amidst the current backlash against homework, it would be helpful to get some real data on how much homework we’re actually talking about.
The college of education at the for-profit University of Phoenix recently took a stab at it, asking Harris Poll to survey teachers about the hours of homework they require and why they assign it. The pollsters talked to 1,005 teachers in public, private, and parochial schools across the United States, a group designed to be a representative sample of the nation’s 3.7 million teachers.
High school teachers interviewed said they assign an average of 3.5 hours worth of homework a week. For students who study five days a week, that’s 42 minutes a day per class, or 3.5 hours a day for a typical student taking five classes.
Middle school teachers (grades 6-8) assigned roughly the same amount: 3.2 hours of homework a week, or 38.4 minutes a day per class. That adds up to 3.2 hours of homework a night for a student with five classes. K-5 teachers said they assigned an average of 2.9 hours of homework each week.
The data reflect what anecdotally shocks many parents: homework loads jump in middle school.
Teachers’ top three reasons for assigning homework were to see how well students understand lessons, help students develop essential problem-solving skills, and show parents what’s being learned in school. Just 30 percent of teachers chose covering more content as one of their top reasons for assigning homework.
The survey also finds that the longer a teacher has been in the classroom, the less homework they assign, said Tanya Burden, a spokeswoman for the University of Phoenix.
Here’s a breakdown of weekly homework assigned, by years of experience:
• 3.6 hours (teachers with less than 10 years in the classroom)
• 3.1 hours (teachers with 10 to 19 years in the classroom)
• 2.8 hours (teachers with more than 20 years in the classroom)
Homework has come under fire from parents and administrators who worry that hours of after-school assignments are stressing students out . Education Week recently reported on research indicating that students with heavy loads of homework were significantly more likely to be sleep-deprived, particularly if the homework load had jumped between ages 12 and 15. Others question whether required assignments are necessary for learning .
But doth Americans protest too much? The Atlantic recently ran a group of photos showing children doing homework after natural disasters and war had displaced them. It’s a good reminder that in many places, homework is considered a privilege, not a burden.
CORRECTION (Feb. 28): The original version of this blog post included incorrect figures on the time for homework assigned each day per class for both high school teachers and middle school teachers.
A version of this news article first appeared in the Time and Learning blog.
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clock This article was published more than 1 year ago
How false reports of homework overload in America have spread so far
Confusing debate suggests homework is too much when it’s often too little.
A previous version of this column mistakenly referred to the education nonprofit Challenge Success as College Success. The column has been corrected.
Recently I saw in the Phi Delta Kappan magazine an attack on homework by a California high school junior, Colin McGrath. Writing the piece as a letter to his younger brother , he said:
“In a 2020 Washington Post article , Denise Pope described what she learned from a survey of more than 50,000 high school students: On average, they complete 2.7 hours of homework a night . That means you won’t be able to play on the trampoline anymore, ride your bike, or explore any other facet of life.”
My reaction: Huh??!! I’ve spent two decades trying to dispel the myth that our kids all get too much homework. The truth, according to several scholarly sources, is that U.S. high school homework averages about an hour a night.
What most teenagers do with the rest of their free time has little connection to trampolines, bicycles or other healthy pursuits. Scholars say their favorite leisure activities are watching TV, playing video games or maybe both at the same time.
So I looked for that Sept. 1, 2020, article in my newspaper that McGrath mentioned. McGrath quoted Pope correctly. I missed that piece when it came out. Maybe most people did. I looked for Wikipedia’s official answer to this frequently asked question: How much time does the average teenager spend on homework?
I was horrified by what I saw, delivered to millions of Wikipedia users: “High schoolers reported doing an average of 2.7 hours of homework per weeknight, according to a study by The Washington Post from 2018 to 2020 of over 50,000 individuals.”
That’s wrong, but I am used to widespread falsehoods about homework overload. Otherwise responsible writers and filmmakers seem unable to resist adding to the hysteria. The popular 2009 film documentary “Race to Nowhere,” screened in 47 states and 20 countries, left the impression that young Americans everywhere were buckling under homework’s weight, yet the film never told viewers that the average amount is an just an hour a night.
Why ‘Race to Nowhere’ documentary is wrong
When Sara Bennett, an attorney and activist parent, and Nancy Kalish, a journalist specializing in parenting issues, went on the “Today” show in 2006 to publicize their book “The Case Against Homework: How Homework Is Hurting Our Children and What We Can Do About It,” they said the average homework load had “skyrocketed.” They used that same word in their book.
They were sensationalizing the fact that the average time 6-to-8-year-olds spent on homework went from eight minutes a day in 1981 to 22 minutes a day in 2003. That supposedly awful demand on their time was the equivalent of watching two episodes of “SpongeBob SquarePants.”
The University of Michigan Institute for Social Research reported in 2003 an average of 50 minutes of homework each weekday for 15-to-17-year-olds, based on a nationally representative sample of 2,907 children and adolescents. A 2019 report by the Pew Research Center , based on Bureau of Labor Statistics data, said 15-to-17- year-olds spent on average an hour a day on homework during the school year. The 2019 UCLA Higher Education Research Institute survey of 95,505 college freshmen reported 57 percent of those students, all good enough to get into college, recalled spending five hours or less a week on homework their senior year of high school. Research shows homework has little value in elementary school, but does correlate with higher achievement in high school.
The false notion of teenagers averaging 2.7 hours a night was incorrectly derived from a study by Challenge Success, a nonprofit organization that works on identifying problems and implementing best practices in schools. Pope, the author of the piece in my newspaper, is a co-founder of Challenge Success and a senior lecturer at the Stanford University Graduate School of Education.
Pope is a wonderful writer and scholar whom I have quoted in the past. She can’t be blamed for Wikipedia saying wrongly the Challenge Success study was done by The Post. She also tried to tell readers that her study did NOT use a representative sample of U.S. teens.
She said the students in the study were all from “high-performing schools.” I only wish she had revealed that in the same sentence that she reported the 2.7-hours-per-night homework average. Her note that the study was confined to the best schools appeared in a different paragraph. That may explain why McGrath, Wikipedia and careless people like me failed, at least on first reading, to see that the sample was skewed.
The Weak Case Against Homework
Too much homework can be a problem in high-achieving schools that cater to middle- and upper-class children. But they represent only about half the country. People on my side of the argument would say that three hours of homework a night is fine if the courses raise achievement and college readiness. I don’t think our kids’ favorite pastimes, video games and TV, are as good for them as going deep into those courses. And even three hours of homework leaves another three hours or so each night (plus the weekend) for nonacademic pursuits.
My concern is the less advantaged students who bring the national average down to just one hour a night by doing little or no homework at all. Since 1996 I have been studying hundreds of unusually dedicated public high schools in low-income communities that have raised achievement for their students and made it far more likely they will succeed in college or whatever they do after high school.
Those schools consider homework vital. One of them was led by Deborah Meier, a hero to many progressive educators. She created New York City’s Central Park East High School, where the mostly low-income students heard much about the importance of using time wisely.
“We told our kids … that the school’s explicit work probably required a 40-hour week — maybe more, maybe less,” she said to me. The official school week was about 30 hours. So she kept the school open an extra 10 hours a week — maybe an hour before school, an hour after school and Saturday mornings.
She didn’t call the extra time homework, but made clear it was essential. “Everyone had more to read than could be done while at school — mostly five-plus hours a week,” she said, “and probably another five for exploring and preparing and revising work done during school hours.”
Pope thinks in similar ways. She sees her Challenge Success research “as a way to a much larger conversation about how to create more meaningful and engaging learning, … how to add time for advisory/tutorial and more student to teacher interaction, how to make all the kids in the school feel like they belong and are cared for.”
That will require more than our puny national homework average of an hour a night, after an inadequate average of five hours of class a day. More learning takes time. One step in the right direction would be accepting the need for regular homework, particularly in high school, and dispensing with falsehoods about giving kids too much to learn.
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About 3.5 hours of homework a day for high schoolers? That’s too much.
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A poll of public school teachers finds that on average, high school students are assigned 3.5 hours of homework per weeknight, or more than 17 hours a week. Or that’s the teachers’ perspective, anyway.
If that’s how it actually plays out, it strikes me as too much by far.
I’m no homework-denier. When you look at the research , it’s clear that homework, at least at the high school level, contributes to higher achievement. But I’m also in the camp that says kids, including teenagers, need well-balanced lives that include extracurricular activities, outside pursuits, physical activity, fun with friends and family, and just hanging around accomplishing nothing. Not that close to four hours of homework a night doesn’t leave room for other things. There must be at least a spare 20 minutes a day somewhere in there to fit in all those non-academic activities, if the kids don’t dawdle over dinner.
I have my doubts that the average teen actually spends that much time on homework. Perhaps the teachers were overreporting for the University of Phoenix School of Education poll, or perhaps they aren’t aware of the extent to which high school students are able to work the system and minimize the time investment. But it’s also clear that a lot of kids are doing a lot of outside schoolwork — and in some cases, far too much.
Elementary school teachers, obviously, set their sights a lot lower, assigning what they thought of as about half an hour of work per day, according to the poll. But parents report widely that elementary teachers also have some unrealistic ideas of how long the homework takes — in the opposite direction. They don’t take into account the fatigue and frustration that slow young children. Little hands are much slower at printing and writing. Teachers too often seem to think half an hour of homework means what they can accomplish in 30 minutes, not what a 9-year-old is capable of doing.
Schools like to talk about reducing the homework load but seldom appear to do much about it. Especially as the state embarks on the new curriculum tied to Common Core standards, which are supposed to be more about thinking, explaining and writing than rote or mechanistic schoolwork, principals should be required to do a thorough examination of the homework their teachers are assigning.
Here are a few common-sense guidelines:
- Is each piece of homework really worthwhile, or is some of it being assigned out of habit or a feeling that this is what the teacher is supposed to do? It’s one thing for students to practice a new math skill or puzzle out some problems, another to be assigned busywork that doesn’t add to skills or knowledge. A lot of it is busywork, and it should be banned. In addition, do students really need to do 40 practice problems to show they’ve mastered the work, or would 15 do just about as well?
- A related concern: Is the homework a relevant way to show mastery that represents a worthwhile investment of time? A middle school biology teacher I know assigns students to make a large model of the human body, using mostly trash from around the house. But it’s not just an art project. Their use of materials, and their presentation, must show that they understand the function of that part of the body. The student who uses an old CD, cut in half, to represent ears, or an old hand pump to represent the heart is showing that understanding. In contrast, 40 hours of work spent gluing sugar cubes together to represent a California mission, a longstanding assignment for many fourth-graders studying California history, is a bad use of student time; it shows relatively little about youngsters’ understanding of the missions, and that little could be proved just as well by spending an hour drawing a mission floor plan.
- The mission example leads to the third rule, one that should be so firmly entrenched that it is couched in biblical language: “Thou shalt not assign homework that requires major parental involvement.” Some of those sugar-cube missions couldn’t have been built by anyone short of an architect. The assignment should be well within the grasp of the little hands and developing brains of the children who are asked to do it. To get personal here: I already did my share of homework, many years ago.
Have any suggestions to add to the list?
One interesting note from the poll: Very experienced teachers tend to assign significantly less homework than those who have put in less time in the classroom. Could be they have a lesson or two about homework to share with their less veteran colleagues.
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Karin Klein is a former Los Angeles Times board member who wrote editorials about education, environment, food and science. She was the 2006-07 winner of the Eugene C. Pulliam Fellowship for Editorial Writers and was a 2012 and 2014 Logan Environmental Journalism fellow and a 2014 Metcalf Environmental Reporting fellow. She is the author of the 2010 book “50 Hikes in Orange County.” Klein attended Wellesley College and UC Berkeley.
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Students Spend More Time on Homework but Teachers Say It's Worth It
Time spent on homework has increased in recent years, but educators say that's because the assignments have also changed.
Students Spending More Time on Homework
High school students get assigned up to 17.5 hours of homework per week, according to a survey of 1,000 teachers. iStockphoto
Although students nowadays are spending significantly more time on homework assignments – sometimes up to 17.5 hours each week – the type and quality of the assignments have changed to better capture critical thinking skills and higher levels of learning, according to a recent survey of teachers conducted by the University of Phoenix College of Education.
The survey of 1,000 K-12 teachers found, among other things, that high school teachers on average assign about 3.5 hours of homework each week. For high school students who typically have five classes with different teachers, that could mean as much as 17.5 hours each week. By comparison, the survey found middle school teachers assign about 3.2 hours of homework each week and kindergarten through fifth grade teachers assign about 2.9 hours each week.
[ READ : Standardized Testing Debate Should Focus on Local School Districts, Report Says ]
By comparison, a 2011 study from the National Center for Education Statistics found high school students reported spending an average of 6.8 hours of homework per week, while a 1994 report from the National Center for Education Statistics – reviewing trends in data from the National Assessment of Educational Progress – found 39 percent of 17-year-olds said they did at least one hour of homework each day.
"What has changed is not necessarily the magic number of how many hours they’re doing per night, but it’s the quality of the homework," says Ashley Norris, assistant dean of the university's college of education. Part of that shift in recent years, she says, may come from more schools implementing the Common Core State Standards, which are intended to put more of an emphasis on critical thinking and problem-solving skills.
"You see a change from teachers … giving, really, busy work … to where they’re actually creating long-term projects that students have to manage outside of the classroom, or reading, where they read and come back into the classroom and share their findings," Norris says. "It's not just about rote memorization, because we know that doesn't stick."
For younger students, having more meaningful homework assignments can help build time-management skills, as well as enhance parent-child interaction, Norris says. But the bigger connection for high school students, she says, is doing assignments outside of the classroom that get them interested in a career path.
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Moving forward, as more schools dive into more time-consuming – but Norris says more meaningful – assignments, there may be a greater shift in the number of schools utilizing the "flipped classroom" method, in which students watch a lesson or lecture at home online, and bring their questions to the classroom to work with their peers while the teacher is present to help facilitate any problems that arise.
"This is already happening in the classrooms. And I think that idea, this whole idea where homework is this applied learning that goes outside the boundaries of a classroom – what can we use that actual class time for?" Norris says "To come back and collaborate on learning, learn from each other, maybe critique our own [work] and share those experiences."
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Tags: K-12 education , education , Common Core , teachers
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Homework in High School: How Much Is Too Much?
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It’s not hard to find a high school student who is stressed about homework. Many are stressed to the max–juggling extracurricular activities, jobs, and family responsibilities. It can be hard for many students, particularly low-income students, to find the time to dedicate to homework. So students in the PBS NewsHour Student Reporting Labs program at YouthBeat in Oakland, California are asking what’s a fair amount of homework for high school students?
TEACHERS: Guide your students to practice civil discourse about current topics and get practice writing CER (claim, evidence, reasoning) responses. Explore lesson supports.
Is homework beneficial to students?
The homework debate has been going on for years. There’s a big body of research that shows that homework can have a positive impact on academic performance. It can also help students prepare for the academic rigors of college.
Does homework hurt students?
Some research suggests that homework is only beneficial up to a certain point. Too much homework can lead to compromised health and greater stress in students. Many students, particularly low-income students, can struggle to find the time to do homework, especially if they are working jobs after school or taking care of family members. Some students might not have access to technology, like computers or the internet, that are needed to complete assignments at home– which can make completing assignments even more challenging. Many argue that this contributes to inequity in education– particularly if completing homework is linked to better academic performance.
How much homework should students get?
Based on research, the National Education Association recommends the 10-minute rule stating students should receive 10 minutes of homework per grade per night. But opponents to homework point out that for seniors that’s still 2 hours of homework which can be a lot for students with conflicting obligations. And in reality, high school students say it can be tough for teachers to coordinate their homework assignments since students are taking a variety of different classes. Some people advocate for eliminating homework altogether.
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