The dog ate my homework policy
Almost three years ago, Red Clay’s Board Policy Review Committee (BPRC) reviewed the Homework policy (Board Policy 7010). The policy was removed from the Board website pending completion of the review, and it’s stayed that way ever since.
What on earth is going on here? Homework is too important a part of educational success to let our policy flop around in the wind. And yes, some teachers are taking advantage of the vacuum in policy and lack of enforcement. The policy was weak even before it was pulled.
Explosion in a filing cabinet
There are pieces of homework policy scattered throughout all sorts of Red Clay documents, including the Parent Handbook, various administrative memos, and even the Code of Conduct. It’s like an explosion in a filing cabinet. Those all need to be gathered together and updated into a coherent policy. Leaving it like this is disrespectful and irresponsible, not to mention ineffective.
I suspect the lack of a strong homework policy has been very damaging to student success. We could track this – we have the data – but we aren’t even bothering to measure the effects.
It’s time to update the homework policy for the digital age, and take into account the school’s responsibility for communicating schoolwork to students and parents. Where’s the transparency, where’s the public conversation?
Start over, with parents this time
To Red Clay District brass: Don’t even THINK you’re someday going to restart the review process in the middle (as if no time had passed) and get it quickly through the Board. I’m watching closely. Three years later, it’s time to start from the beginning of the process (starting with the first public reading) and make sure parents are fully involved. There is NO WAY I am going to sit back while this critical policy is worked out in back rooms and rushed through the Board.
In fact, take a look at the BPRC process and unpucker that stingy time window for public comment. Get some discussion going in multiple parent forums. Consult teachers, parents, students, research, and independent experts, and let their opinions be transparently added to the discussion.
From the BPRC minutes for March 24, 2010:
The Committee agreed to recommend that Policies 7009 and 7010 be placed on hold pending further internal review to ensure alignment with Policy 7002. Dr. Broomall stated that per the Committee’s recommendation, those three policies will be reintroduced for review at a later date. Ms. Green said she will redistribute Policies 7009 and 7010 when the updated versions of the documents are available for review and comment.
Where is the policy now?
I recently asked Red Clay where the Homework Policy was. The first answer: “It’s under review.” So I refined my question: “OK, I know that. I don’t care what it’s status is, I want to see the most recent version of it!” Then the answer surprised me: “It’s in the Red Clay Parent Handbook.”
The Red Clay Parent Handbook is that printed calendar that you might get distributed to you at the start of every school year. It’s a twelve-month calendar with helpful parent tips and other information on the backs of each calendar page. It turns out Board Policy 7010 is under the “Homework” heading on the backs of December and January (pages 14 and 16).
My all-time favorite quote from the Homework Policy (any Red Clay educators ever heard this rule before? It tends to come as a surprise):
Each school in the Red Clay Consolidated School District has the obligation to present to students and parents written homework assignments.
Full text of Homework Policy 7010 as it appears in the Red Clay Parent Handbook
Statement of Purpose
Homework is an essential complement to the educational process by which individuals learn to reason and make judgments necessary to function effectively in society, as noted in the Red Clay Consolidated School District Statement of Philosophy.
Homework is a natural extension of the educational program. It serves to reinforce and enrich daily class work. A reasonable amount of homework helps students achieve better in school. Parents are encouraged to provide quiet, well-lighted places for children to study. Specific homework policies may vary; therefore, you should contact your child’s teacher if you have questions.
Homework is not necessarily a written assignment. It may be planned either to offer the necessary practice in fundamental skills, or to provide practical experience of an activity nature. Homework offers an opportunity for the student to apply what he/she has learned in school. It is planned to foster and increase a skill with a familiar process, rather than bring about a struggle with a new process, which is not clearly understood.
Homework may be assigned in order to:
Reinforce concepts and skills taught
Develop and accept responsibility
Organize and apply knowledge, understanding and skills
Inform the home of what is happening in the schools
Develop study skills
Provide opportunity for creativity
Offer a challenge
Expose students to community resources
Evaluate and analyze facts learned
Complete work not finished in class
Give individualized practice on skills
To prepare for the next day’s lesson
Each school in the Red Clay Consolidated School District has the obligation to present to students and parents written homework assignments. Parents should be requested to acknowledge their awareness and understanding of the requirements. Frequency and amount of homework will vary according to the needs of the student, the subjects involved, and the teacher’s requirements.
Students are expected to have homework assignments in all academic subjects on a regular basis, and in other subject areas when required for a particular activity. Whenever possible, teachers should correlate assignments so that students may not be overburdened one day and have no assignments another day.
Homework assignments, for the average student, should follow the suggested time allotments listed below, four or five times each week.
Grade Time Grade Time Kindergarten 20 minutes 5-6 1 hour 1 30 MinutesHrs 7 1-1/2 2 40 Minutes 8 1-3/4 Hrs 3 5 Minutes 9-12 2 Hrs
Special assignments, such as term papers and long-term projects, will require additional time.
There should be a direct correlation between the amount of homework assigned to high school students and the individual needs of the students. The appropriateness is related to the course of study, and is to be measured qualitatively rather than quantitatively.
Students in grades 3 and above should be required to use cursive writing when preparing homework. The exceptions would be older students who have typing skills or where printing is required for a special project.
A homework format is to be established with all students. All work is expected to be neat and include name, date, and subject information.
Grading and Reviewing Homework
There should be recognition for the completion of homework. Students and parents are to be told how much credit is given for homework in determining the total grade of the student.