Friday, November 14, 2014

Should teachers give homework for the sake of giving homework?

Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools is considering a two-word policy change that reflects a decade's worth of research and thought in the education world.

At its heart is a question students and parents have been asking for years: What's the point in giving homework?

Right now, the board has an instructional policy about homework. It reads, in part: "Homework is a necessary part of the learning process...."

A proposed change would change it slightly: "Homework can be a necessary part of the learning process..."

It seems like a small change. And it is. But board members said Thursday they saw how this could cause a lot of confusion from parents. Would homework now be optional?

Chief Academic Officer Brian Schultz said that's not really the case. Homework would continue to be a major part of many classes in CMS. But, "It needs to be meaningful homework," he said.

Afterward, Shultz told me that the initial policy was written around the year 2000, when the thinking in education circles was that homework was important no matter what. Teachers were encouraged to assign it even when it wasn't necessary. More recent research has shown that homework is only effective when it serves a specific purpose, he said.

So, should the policy be adopted, it likely won't make a huge difference in math and English classes. It could, however, mean changes in philosophy in some elective classes or in lower grades. Schultz said there hasn't been any research proving that homework is effective or not effective for children in kindergarten through third grade.

Another change being considered could be equally meaningful.

What it would do is remove "preparation for class" as a criterion that can factor into a student's grade. That means teachers would no longer be able to ding students for forgetting paper or pencil, or not having the right three-ring notebook.

Schultz said the thinking behind that is that preparation doesn't have anything to do with whether students are mastering the material.

Both changes were discussed at a meeting of the board's policy committee Thursday. It'll be presented to the full board for the first time in December, and is scheduled to be voted on sometime in the new year.


Wiley Coyote said...

Good grief, what difference does it make?

They already get a 50 anyway for turning in a paper with only their name on it and the grading scale has been widened to snare more students to ensure a passing grade.

Somewhere, the discipline in doing a thing, whether it's meaningful homework or not is getting lost in all this.

I guess we should have never constantly told our son to pick up his clothes, put away his toys and brush his teeth?

....and the dumbing down continues.

Anonymous said...

So Mr. Schultz says that preparation has nothing to do with mastering the material. Evidently he has little familiarity with reading acquisition skills. Preparation and previous knowledge are keys to increased skills.
One would also assume that if CMS doesn't provide required technology and little Hyacinth has no IPhone, neither is prepared but both, along with the school board, legal team, and the interim "leadership" are?

Anonymous said...

I think the benefit of homework is more for the parents; to make them aware of what their child is learning in school.

Anonymous said...

Get real.

You do not want to start a trend to buck the "gap" system do you? BTW its not just in CMS. Its every single school system in America plus ingrained into the adult welfare system.

You cant get all these 100s of billions or trillions collectively if you close the "gap" or if so called oppressed don't have a "card" to pull at any given convenient time.

If the race gap govt freebie benefactor did not exist then it would mean that the welfare proletariat socialist 3rd world class in America would be forced to make an effort to do homework and study and not just claim discrimination. Right?

Do not attempt to change the status quo or even liberal media writers would be terminated without cause on a dime like Gorman or Morrison.
Although readers know these school blogs are just faking it and pretending to be concerned in order to aid and abet the "gap" status quo in bed with the 3rd world class of govt moochers and whiners to keep everything easy and free.

Why do you think 100 million 3rd world illegals are ready to flood America who is 20 trillion in the red as Obama the #1 card puller advertises in Mexico and all over South America to come here and get everything free?

What if Las Vegas or Myrtle Beach advertised all free expense paid luxury hotels, food, entertainment etc if you just come there? Would you not go?
The lame duck is promising a lifetime of everything free for coming here and bring the whole family and relatives and friends etc.

America is one big money tree and everything is on the house as long as you vote democrat to keep him in power for life like Castro. That is real goal.

This is the same principal at CMS as the "gap" and "card" are essential items to continue to extort billions of free cash so it cannot be tampered with by any white boy superintendent token who was hired only as front man side show.

Obama, Holder, Jackson, Sharpton Lee Winfrey etc etc who have shaken down Wall St for trillions thrive off the "gap" and the "card" that works on the federal, state and local scale.

50-100 million illegals are slated to be legalized to vote democrat by Obama who knows it will be over all for America though he did not anticipate the crushing We The People last week defeat so he has to act quickly before the end of the yr if he wants to be a lifetime socialist tyrant like his hero Castro.
Timing is everything now.

CMS board chair and attorney McCray and Battle use the exact same principals in this shakedown game and were caught red handed but will lie their way out of it and it doesn't matter anyway because of the Obama immigration policy abuse of power.

Obama and the CMS situation are all tied in neatly as one big extortion power grab worth many trillions to destroy capitalist democratic We The People America and make it 3rd world socialist dirt poor owned by Big Bro as banks are emptied with all business and private property seized as the so called govt oppressed become govt oppressor class struggle ends into one single workers paradise class except for his elite 1% class. You get a monthly bone and Obama and his 1% elite live like kings with trillion dollar off shore bank accounts.

Got it?

the real bj
there are many pretenders but only one real deal.

Anonymous said...

Okay people, settle down. Before you go off with more hyperbole about the fall of America, think about this a little. 30 years ago, I graduated from a great local school with a 4.1GPA and NEVER remember having four or five hours of homework... EVER...

I'm all for assigning work for Math & Science (where we're woefully behind the world leaders), as well as English. But do we really need our kids doing another two hours of politics, oceanography or marketing homework (because it happens). Or would we rather they use that time to be more well rounded with hobbies, sports, arts and other interests, as well as real job experiences?

I for one would like to see my high schoolers with more time to focus on the important stuff (Biology, Chemistry, Calculus, etc.). And God forbid they'd have a couple hours to just be kids now and then...

Anonymous said...

BJ, I'm exhausted after reading your rant. Although I agree with some of it, I would certainly not take you up on your free offer to Las Vegas or Myrtle Beach because I know the person that deal would attract, not my type. Wouldn't be worth it, I'll gladly stay home and read my book.

Anonymous said...

There should be absolutely no exception with reading and math. Both you have to continually do even at a young age in order to master, change the way the brain synapses are shooting. I think the occasional drawing a map with your parents or making a geosphere of some sort would be ok.
But like Wiley said, what is the point in CMS anyway when you have kids who do not have responsible parents (or probably parent/grandparent) helping at home, with no respect for school, getting a 50 for just putting their name on the paper? It lowers the bar for the entire class. And if the bar is set to high it now becomes a race issue and back to good old Battle and the BOE to lower the bar again and slapping the teachers hand.

So moving on....

Anonymous said...

Totally off topic... but anyone know who had the construction contract for the UNCC early college???

Anonymous said...

Of course some amount of homework is good for kids, teaches them about responsibility and work ethic (seeing that most kids nowadays don't have jobs, where else will they learn this valuable lesson?).

How do expect a current High school student to be successful in college if you don't assign homework?

Anonymous said...


A mom I know blew a gasket recently when her "son" got an "80" on a paper "he" worked on for TWO HOURS!! I know her well enough to know she did more on the paper then her "son", thus her reaction.

Much of the homework CMS sends home cannot be complete without direct parental involvement. Go to any science fair and ask yourself how many of the award winning projects were actually completed by a student. They're not!!

My feeling has always been that CMS assigns so much homework to force the parents to get involved, because the students can't do it all on their own without their parents help.

Anonymous said...

I naver dod homewrd and I trned out jst fine.

Anonymous said...

No homework? Is this to appease a certain demographic of student?

Anonymous said...

If CMS weren't in jeopardy of losing state and federal funds, we'd be hearing that attendance "can be" necessary, as well.

Anonymous said...

How about a rule against parents doing homework and projects for their kids? Teachers should start calling parents out for this.

Anonymous said...

The only way teachers can stop parents from doing their child's homework is to stop assigning it. If it's done at home, there is no way to stop parents from "helping".

Anonymous said...

Most of the homework I see brought home is 'off-the-shelf'. If the teachers had to spend much time in developing the homework themselves, they might not assign so much of it. It's easy to hand out several pages of homework to complete, when you pull it from another book you purchased.

Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

This is an unnecessary argument. if the students need homework, give it. if they dont, then dont

Anonymous said...

Adam ^

Anonymous said...

Whats 9+10...21

Anonymous said...

Homework: An unnecessary evil? … Surprising findings from new research

By Valerie Strauss November 26, 2012

Alfie Kohn writes about what a new homework study really says — and what it doesn’t say. He is the author of 12 books about education and human behavior, including “The Schools Our Children Deserve,” “The Homework Myth,” and “Feel-Bad Education… And Other Contrarian Essays on Children & Schooling.” He lives (actually) in the Boston area and (virtually) at

By Alfie Kohn

Let’s start by reviewing what we know from earlier investigations.

First, no research has ever found a benefit to assigning homework (of any kind or in any amount) in elementary school. In fact, there isn’t even a positive correlation between, on the one hand, having younger children do some homework (vs. none), or more (vs. less), and, on the other hand, any measure of achievement. If we’re making 12-year-olds, much less five-year-olds, do homework, it’s either because we’re misinformed about what the evidence says or because we think kids ought to have to do homework despite what the evidence says.

Second, even at the high school level, the research supporting homework hasn’t been particularly persuasive. There does seem to be a correlation between homework and standardized test scores, but (a) it isn’t strong, meaning that homework doesn’t explain much of the variance in scores, (b) one prominent researcher, Timothy Keith, who did find a solid correlation, returned to the topic a decade later to enter more variables into the equation simultaneously, only to discover that the improved study showed that homework had no effect after all[2], and (c) at best we’re only talking about a correlation — things that go together — without having proved that doing more homework causes test scores to go up.

Anonymous said...

Too Much Homework Is Bad for Kids

Piling on the homework doesn't help kids do better in school. In fact, it can lower their test scores.

That's the conclusion of a group of Australian researchers, who have taken the aggregate results of several recent studies investigating the relationship between time spent on homework and students' academic performance.

According to Richard Walker, an educational psychologist at Sydney University, data shows that in countries where more time is spent on homework, students score lower on a standardized test called the Program for International Student Assessment, or PISA. The same correlation is also seen when comparing homework time and test performance at schools within countries. Past studies have also demonstrated this basic trend.

Inundating children with hours of homework each night is detrimental, the research suggests, while an hour or two per week usually doesn't impact test scores one way or the other. However, homework only bolsters students' academic performance during their last three years of grade school. "There is little benefit for most students until senior high school (grades 10-12)," Walker told Life's Little Mysteries.

The research is detailed in his new book, "Reforming Homework: Practices, Learning and Policies" (Palgrave Macmillan, 2012).

The same basic finding holds true across the globe, including in the U.S., according to Gerald LeTendre of Pennsylvania State University. He and his colleagues have found that teachers typically give take-home assignments that are unhelpful busy work. Assigning homework "appeared to be a remedial strategy (a consequence of not covering topics in class, exercises for students struggling, a way to supplement poor quality educational settings), and not an advancement strategy (work designed to accelerate, improve or get students to excel)," LeTendre wrote in an email. [Kids Believe Literally Everything They Read Online, Even Tree Octopuses]

This type of remedial homework tends to produce marginally lower test scores compared with children who are not given the work. Even the helpful, advancing kind of assignments ought to be limited; Harris Cooper, a professor of education at Duke University, has recommended that students be given no more than 10 to 15 minutes of homework per night in second grade, with an increase of no more than 10 to 15 minutes in each successive year.

Most homework's neutral or negative impact on students' academic performance implies there are better ways for them to spend their after school hours than completing worksheets. So, what should they be doing? According to LeTendre, learning to play a musical instrument or participating in clubs and sports all seem beneficial, but there's no one answer that applies to everyone.

"These after-school activities have much more diffuse goals than single subject test scores," he wrote. "When I talk to parents … they want their kids to be well-rounded, creative, happy individuals — not just kids who ace the tests."

Anonymous said...

Not needed especially with stellar homework like this (is it dumbing down the standard or making the wording more appropriate for those involved?)

A Charlotte mother is expressing concern after a class assignment she considers offense was given to high school students, some say it has racial undertones.

“I was completely stunned,” the mother said. “This is not appropriate language at all for the children in the school.”

The question was from a test on genetics.

"LaShamanda has a heterozygous big bootie, the dominant trait. Her man Fontavius has a small bootie which is recessive. They get married and have a baby named LaPrincess," the biology assignment prompts students.

The assignment then continues to ask "What is the probability that LaPrincess will inherit her mama's big bootie?"

The mother says the assignment was given last Monday and she reached out to the teacher for an explanation for the question.

"I am extremely concerned that this type of language is being used and considered expectable [sic] to be issued to students," she said while asking for an explanation.

According to an image of the assignment provided to WBTV, the questions before and after the "bootie" question revolved around "stinky feet" and the height of plants.

The mother showed WBTV an email apology she reportedly received from the teacher "if the question offended you."

"I had asked the students to pick two of the remaining questions on the worksheet and did not necessarily assign that particular one," the teacher said.

She continued, "I apologize if it offended you or your child."

The teacher said the worksheet had been passed down to her by other teachers who have been using it. It was also reportedly part of the "Summer School Biology Notebook Packet" that teachers were given by the school district.

WBTV's Dedrick Russell reached out to the school district to ask about the worksheet. "The worksheet does not appear to be a document created by CMS," the officials said. "The school has taken the worksheet out of circulation and requested its teachers to discontinue using it."

The mother is relieved the question will not be used again

Anonymous said...

Maybe the wackos who made their kids not take End of Year Testing last spring (or whatever) will tell their kids it is now okay to boycott homework. Since it is too much of a workload.

Anonymous said...

1. we never got our end of grades test scores from last spring. Shocking
2. What no homework? Go to a personalized learning school-there is little work at all there. Problem solved.
3. Personalized learning investigation needed!!!

Anonymous said...


PL is the next big breakthrough for public education.

What child doesn't want to play with an iPod, iPad, or other technology device while at school?

Sure it stunts the brain development of young children, boys in particular, but it's fun!!

Anonymous said...

If your child is not doing homework after school, maybe he/she is playing hours of video games. Is that a better use of their time?

Anonymous said...

If your child "doesn't want to do homework" after school, maybe he/she would prefer playing hours of video games....

Anonymous said...

Teachers in CMS can't even call students out. Teachers in the state of North Carolina have no authority. Education here is ran by people in office's. People in downtown Charlotte or Raleigh.

Anonymous said...

Well I will guarantee you that the local private schools are giving out homework. What a bunch of nonsense CMS.

Anonymous said...

NOBODY KNOW ANYTHING about the UNCC contract or anything else because of the lack of investigative journalism in Charlotte. The last time the CO did anything that did not come out of a PR department was the good work they did on Jim Baker and the PTL disaster.

On the test question. Is the question racially biased ? Is the SAT test questions racially biased ? Almost any question will offend someone in CMS. If you dont believe me then go ask Dr. Morrison what he thinks.

Anonymous said...

When I started teaching here teachers were forced to give excessive amounts of homework. When teachers questioned the practice they were shut down by administrators. Homework should be used to practice already taught skills. This place is nuts.

Anonymous said...

Anon at November 14, 2014 at 5:02 said "Homework should be used to practice already taught skills" You nailed it. My kids sometimes are assigned new material to learn at home on skills they haven't been taught yet.

Anonymous said...

My 5th grade homework policy posted on my website the first week of school (August, 2014).


After decades spent trying to assess the value of homework, researchers still argue over the simplest findings.

What we think we know:

1. A Duke University study concluded that in elementary school, there is no measurable correlation between homework and achievement.

2. However, the same Duke University study concluded that by high school, the average student doing homework outperformed 69% of students in a class with no homework.

Ms. Durand's philosophy and policy on homework:

Students will be assigned a reasonable amount of homework at the beginning of each week which will be due every Friday. Students may choose to complete all homework at once or spread it out over the week creating a "NO EXCUSE" policy for incomplete and late assignments. Any homework assignments that are submitted late or incomplete will receive an automatic "0". Parents and students are responsible for making sure all homework assignments are completed and submitted every Friday. Homework will count for 10% of a student's grade per subject area with the primary goal of developing good time management skills and study habits needed to successfully function in school and in life.


Anonymous said...

Let's be clear. No school is perfect.

However, one of the things I really like about my charter school is the ability to independently decide my homework policy which is different than the other 5th grade teacher I work with. The other 5th grade teacher I work with assigns homework every night with the expectation of it being due the next day. The one thing we do have in common is giving out "0's" for students who don't hand their homework assignments in on time. My two person 5th grade team doesn't believe in giving students a grade of a 50 for doing nothing. We're not adverse to giving "F's". We've given out plenty already. This being said, we're also sensitive to things that occur in daily life that warrant occasional exceptions to "the rule". And isn't this how things work in the real world? Different supervisors and bosses with different expectations and rules?


Anonymous said...

"Homework can be a necessary part of the learning process..."

Can be means won't be. But hey it's easier on the staff. That's what what we're all about now.

How about this: Meaningful homework IS a necessary part of the learning process.

Anonymous said...

Black folk calling that test question having racial undertones is somewhat ridiculous.

Can tests not have simulations from predominate names of a race ? Would it be an uproar if the name was Nam or Juan ?

Come on folks. I know a student that was named after lemon jello.


Anonymous said...

I'm happy that you're happy to be doing the same thing that thousands of teachers worldwide have been doing for decades innumerable, even us poor louses in CMS that have principals that allow us the same leeway that you crow about.

Anonymous said...

How wonderful you happen to work at a school that also allows teacher's enough autonomy to implement something called common sense.

Common sense is not something I've always experienced or witnessed in public education. And let me be clear, I'm as much of a public school teacher as you are.

As you know, a supportive and competent principal greatly matters.


Anonymous said...

And in case you haven't been paying attention..

My father is a former public school principal and public school superintendent.

A good principal matters. Really matters. Count your blessings you have a principal you like to work for. Although, I suspect, you might be a principal yourself in which case I fully support your homework policy albeit CMS' Board of Education thoughts and policies on the subject.


Anonymous said...

You do realize we're talking about a public school system with a Board of Education that voted in favor of standardized testing dance and yearbook?

I was physically present at this meeting.