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Less Homework at Elk Ridge?

Prompt: The principals of Elk Ridge have been getting complaints from parents that students are not
learning as much as they have in previous years. Some teachers have proposed that students would learn
more if they were given more homework.
You are writing a letter to the principal to convince him to either require teachers to give more homework
or to encourage them to give less. After researching this topic thoroughly, write a 5-paragraph essay
arguing which solution you think would help Elk Ridge students more.

Article #1 -- Research Trends: Why Homework

Should Be Balanced
J ULY 31, 2015


Homework: effective learning tool or waste of time?

Since the average high school student spends almost seven hours each week doing homework, it's
surprising that there's no clear answer. Homework is generally recognized as an effective way to reinforce
what students learn in class, but claims that it may cause more harm than good, especially for younger
students, are common.
Here's what the research says:

In general, homework has substantial benefits at the high school level, with decreased benefits for
middle school students and little benefit for elementary students (Cooper, 1989; Cooper et al., 2006).

While assigning homework may have academic benefits, it can also cut into important personal and
family time (Cooper et al., 2006).

Assigning too much homework can result in poor performance (Fernndez-Alonso et al., 2015).

A students ability to complete homework may depend on factors that are outside their control (Cooper
et al., 2006; OECD, 2014; Eren & Henderson, 2011).

The goal shouldnt be to eliminate homework, but to make it authentic, meaningful, and engaging
(Darling-Hammond & Ifill-Lynch, 2006).

Why Homework Should Be Balanced

Homework can boost learning, but doing too much can be detrimental The National PTA and National
Education Association support the "ten-minute homework rule," which recommends ten minutes of
homework per grade level, per night (ten minutes for first grade, 20 minutes for second grade, and so
on, up to two hours for 12th grade) (Cooper, 2010). A recent study found that when middle school
students were assigned more than 90-100 minutes of homework per day, their math and science scores
began to decline (Fernndez-Alonso, Surez-lvarez, & Muiz, 2015). Giving students too much
homework can lead to fatigue, stress, and a loss of interest in academics -- something that we all want to

Homework Pros and Cons

Homework has many benefits, ranging from higher academic performance to improved study skills and
stronger school-parent connections. However,
it can also result in a loss of interest in
academics, fatigue, and cutting into important
personal and family time. Here's a handy
reference chart that lists the research-based
pros and cons of homework:

Grade Level Makes a Difference

Although the debate about homework
generally falls in the "it works" vs. "it doesn't
work" camps, research shows that grade level
makes a difference. High school students
generally get the biggest benefits from
homework, with middle school students getting
about half the benefits, and elementary school
students getting little benefit (Cooper et al.,
2006). Since young students are still
developing study habits like concentration and
self-regulation, assigning a lot of homework
isn't all that helpful.

Homework Across the Globe

OECD, the developers of the international
PISA test, published a 2014 report looking at
homework around the world. They found that
15-year-olds worldwide spend an average of
five hours per week doing homework (the U.S. average is about six hours). Surprisingly, countries like
Finland and Singapore spend less time on homework (2-3 hours per week) but still have high PISA
rankings. These countries, the report explains, have support systems in place that allow students to rely
less on homework to succeed. If a country like the U.S. were to decrease the amount of homework
assigned to high school students, test scores would likely decrease unless additional supports were

Homework Is About Quality, Not Quantity

Whether you're pro- or anti-homework, keep in mind that research gives a big-picture idea of what works
and what doesn't, and a capable teacher can make almost anything work. The question isn't
about homework vs. no homework; instead, we should be asking ourselves, "How can we transform
homework so that it's engaging, relevant, and supports learning?"