Teaching

Do Limits on Homework Lower Expectations?

By Anthony Rebora — June 30, 2011 1 min read

The Los Angeles school district is instituting a new policy uniformly limiting homework to 10 percent of a student’s grade. Drawing on recent research, the policy states that students should not be punished for differences in their “home academic environment” and that, as a rule, homework should be used to support learning rather than to drive compliance.

L.A. high school English teacher Larry Strauss, writing in the Huffington Post, appreciates the sentiment but says the policy is ultimately an exercise in expectations-lowering:

At least let's start by believing in all of our students and motivating them to find ways to overcome their challenges and master high school level academic work. Twenty years in the classroom has taught me the profound impact we can have on children when set our expectations high and never let students talk us out of those expectations. Keep believing in children until they believe in themselves. Students are always trying to get us to assign less homework—they'll plead and gripe and even scowl—but they almost always, ultimately, appreciate those of us who are strong enough not to give in to their expressions of weakness.

He also questions whether district leaders have fully considered practical instructional details:

If, for example, I test students, in class, on something they were assigned to read outside of class, how does the grade on that test factor into my 10% cap?

While supporters say the policy will help teachers become more effective in their use of homework, others, too, question whether it isn’t in effect undermining teachers’ judgment.

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A version of this news article first appeared in the Teaching Now blog.