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To Whom It May Concern: Students, faculty, and parents of the Pioneer Valley Regional School District have come

across many experiences, concerns and issues with the homework that is assigned. There are numerous problems students face every day that have more negative effects than positive benefits. Here are some we have come across. Students are forced to stay up late to complete their assignments or else they will be given a bad grade. By doing this, they are losing sleep which causes them to be tired and not put in a 100% effort in their class assignments. Studies have shown that chronic sleep loss causes depression, impaired motor function and obesity. It has been found to increase a bodys production of stress hormone cortisol which raises blood pressure, heart rate, weakens the immune system and makes it difficult to concentrate. It is extremely difficult for students to participate in sports and extra-curricular activities with the addition of homework. Kids do not have enough time to participate in sports, pursue personal interests, complete homework and have time to just relax. If they want to do all of these things, they are forced to stay up a lot later than the average teen should be staying awake. The teenage years are the years when people need the most sleep due to the amount they are growing. Child obesity is a big problem in todays generation and excessive homework just adds to it. Homework causes the student to stay inside and not get the amount of exercise and fresh air an adolescent should be getting. Without homework, students would have more time to exercise and stay healthy. Parents and Friends Chief Jenny Branch says, as childhood obesity becomes a major problem; homework is forcing children to sit in front of computers instead of exercise. (1) Class discussion is based on homework more than anything else which is taking away valuable class time where teachers could be giving a lesson. Numerous students are not able to complete their homework because they dont understand the problem. Not understanding something or having to get extra help also shows to lower a students self-esteem. If a student doesnt know how to do the problem, they can either do it wrong and get a bad grade, or not do it and get a bad grade. It has been years since the students parents have been in school and doing the kind of work they do. Chances are they dont remember that material. And even if they do, things have changed since then and they were taught how to complete problems in different ways. If homework isnt assigned and all the work is done in class this problem would be eliminated and the students can get help as needed. Homework causes a lot of unneeded stress to students. There are so many other things they have to worry about every day and homework should not have to be

one of them. Extra stress put on a child contributes to drug and/or alcohol usage. A study reported August 4, 2008 reveals that 73% of teens say that school stress is the primary reason for drug use. (2) Students who are sick or absent are now responsible to complete last weeks classwork, last weeks homework, and now the new assignments for that week. This puts a tremendous amount of stress on the student. In middle and high school many students choose afterschool jobs over homework contributing to poor grades. Given todays economy, kids cant depend on their parents for money and working will give them valuable experience they cannot learn in school. Homework enables them from doing so. Due to homework, students are forced to come home and spend most of the night in their room. This is limits their family time and many arent even able to have dinner as a family. This is a very important part in a childs life. Weekends revolve around homework and they rarely get to have time to themselves. The weight of a backpack is an enormous load and causes back problems for students at a very early age.The studies reveal that many pupils' backpacks were "excessively loaded", leaving students with back problems which often worsened with age. The authors of the report, which was published in the Archives of Disease in Childhood, said children should not carry anything weighing more than 10% of their body weight. But the study found nearly two thirds of the 1,403 children surveyed carried bags which broke the 10% rule". (3) Homework is costing the school and families money they dont have. The economy is extremely rough right now and wasting time and money on assignments that are proven to have very few benefits is pointless. A paid teacher can spend precious time teaching, opposed to correcting papers and children can have time to just be kids. Students do not complete the assignment by themselves. The majority of the students receive the assignment and copy it off a friend or someone they know and the work isnt even being done by them. If the work isnt being done by the student themselves, that is not a proper way to assess how a child is doing considering there is no way to stop the child from copying off of someone else after school hours.

There appears to be many more negative effects of homework than positive. There have been no quality studies to prove homework improves test scores and grades. Here are some other opinions we have found. Have you ever heard of a child getting sick because of homework? According to William Crain, Ph.D., a professor of psychology at City College of New York and the author of Reclaiming Childhood, "Kids are developing more school-related stomachaches, headaches, sleep problems, and depression than ever before. The average student is glued to his or her desk

for almost seven hours a day. Add two to four hours of homework each night, and they are working a 45 to 55 hour week. This does not include time spent riding the bus, sports and after school jobs. Ironic considering the child labor laws! (4) In addition, a student who receives excessive homework "will miss out on active playtime, essential for learning social skills, proper brain development, and warding off childhood obesity," according to Harris Cooper, Ph.D., a professor of psychology and neuroscience at Duke University. Although some teachers and parents believe assigning a lot of homework is beneficial, a Duke University review of a number of studies found almost no correlation between homework and long-term achievements in elementary school and only a moderate correlation in middle school. "More is not better," concluded Cooper, who conducted the review. (5) Is homework really necessary? Most teachers assign homework as a drill to improve memorization of material. While drills and repetitive exercises have their place in schools, homework may not be that place. If a student does a math worksheet with 50 problems but completes them incorrectly, he will likely fail the test. According to the U.S. Department of Education, most math teachers can tell after checking five algebraic equations whether a student understood the necessary concepts. Practicing dozens of homework problems incorrectly only cements the wrong method. (6) Some teachers believe that assigning more homework will help improve standardized test scores. However, in countries like the Czech Republic, Japan, and Denmark, which have higher-scoring students, teachers give little homework. At the other end of the spectrum, countries with very low average test scoresThailand, Greece and Iranhave teachers who assign a great deal of homework, David Baker noted. The United States is among the most homework-intensive countries in the world for seventh and eighth grade, so more homework clearly does not mean higher test scores. (7) Do students in the United States receive too much homework? If schools assign less homework, it would benefit teachers, parents, and students alike. Teachers who assign large amounts of homework are often unable to do more than spot-check answers. This means that many errors are missed. Teachers who assign less homework will be able to check it thoroughly. In addition, it allows a teacher time to focus on more important things. "I had more time for planning when I wasn't grading thousands of problems a night," says math teacher Joel Wazac at a middle school in Missouri. "And when a student didn't understand something, instead of a parent trying to puzzle it out, I was there to help them." The result of assigning fewer math problems: grades went up and the school's standardized math scores are the highest they've ever been. A student who is assigned less homework will live a healthy and happy life. The family can look forward to stress-free, carefree nights and, finally, the teachers can too. (8) According to the authors of "National Differences, Global Similarities: World Culture and the Future of Schooling," too much homework can demoralize

students and lead to lower test scores. In particular, David Baker and Gerald LeTendre noted that students from countries where less homework is assigned, such as Japan and Denmark, score better on tests than students from countries that assign a lot of homework. They also pointed out that though American students do more homework than many of their international competitors, their overall test scores are average. (9) The truth, according to Sara Bennett and Nancy Kalish, is that there is almost no evidence that homework helps elementary school students achieve academic success and little evidence that it helps older students. Yet the nightly burden is taking a serious toll on Americas families. It robs children of the sleep, play, and exercise time they need for proper physical, emotional, and neurological development. And it is a hidden cause of the childhood obesity epidemic, creating a nation of homework potatoes. (10) The value of homework is overrated, says Pope, author of Doing School: How We Are Creating a Generation of Stressed-Out, Materialistic, and Miseducated Students. Based on her studies, Pope believes overburdened students are more prone to cheating, depression, unhealthy study habits, and a distorted view of success. (11) The campaign against homework is gaining popularity. Administrators in wealthy communities with high-achieving students appear to be the first to heed the message. Recently, David Ackerman, principal at Oak Knoll Elementary School in Menlo Park, California, made national news when he advised his staff to limit homework to reading assignments only. (12)

Our proposal is to have the PVRS district not assign extra assignments for homework on a TRIAL basis. This excludes the work students didnt finish in class, special projects that require some sort of at home work, or basic reading assignments that are required. We will see if test scores increase, absentee rates decrease, and overall grades on report cards improve. Based on these studies we strongly believe homework is causing more harm than good. Homework is not proving to provide any benefits to the students and is only causing unneeded stress to students, teachers and parents. Why assign homework if it is only causing harm to the students? The USA is one of the lowest test scoring countries due in part to the amount of homework that is distributed. Schools across Europe are also experimenting with the no homework idea because of all the studies that have proven for homework to be ineffective. The president of France just recently announced that he is going to pursue the abolition of homework. There has been a documentary written by Vicki Abeles called Race to Nowhere that gives several good examples about what homework is doing to students. Alfie Kohn has written a book advocating the abolition of homework called The Homework Myth and Sara Bennett and Nancy Kalish have written a book called The Case Against Homework: How Homework Is Hurting Our Children and What We Can Do About It. These

books and documentaries give very well thought out and researched examples of the harmful effects homework is having on kids. The definition of Pioneer is to develop or be the first to apply a new method. Lets live up to our name sake and be a Pioneer in education. With the facts provided we hope you will take into consideration our ideas and keep our proposal in mind.

Sincerely,

Ameilia Pelletier,

Alyssa Genovese,

Emily Lanoie,

Logan Anderson,

Amelia Marchand,

Elizabeth Sweeney

End Notes
1. ABC News. ABC News. March 12th, 2007. 10-21-12. http://www.abc.net.au/news/2007-03-12/homework-contributing-tochildhood-obesity-parents/2214962 2. Teen Stress and Drug abuse. Treatment solutions. August 18th, 2008. 10-20-12. http://www.treatmentsolutions.com/teen-stress-and-drug-abuse/ 3. Heavy School Bags Causing Children Back Pain. Huffington Posts. 3-152012. 10-19-12. http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/2012/03/15/heavyschool-bags-causing-children-back-pain_n_1346974.html 4. The Homework Revolution. Teen Ink. 10-20-12. www.teenink.com Opinion School / College. 5. The Homework Revolution. Teen Ink. 10-20-12. www.teenink.com Opinion School / College. 6. The Homework Revolution. Teen Ink. 10-20-12. www.teenink.com Opinion School / College. 7. High School Homework: Are American students Overworked? Huffington Posts. 5-11-11. 10-21-2012. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/11/02/high-school-homework-are_n_1071973.html 8. High School Homework: Are American students Overworked?. Huffington Posts. 5-11-11. 10-21-2012. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/11/02/high-school-homework-are_n_1071973.html 9. Vivex Saxena. Pros and Cons of Homework. Ehow. 10-19-12. http://www.ehow.com/info_8298310_pros-cons-homework.html 10. The Case Against Homework. Sara Bennett and Nancy Kalish. August, 2006. 10-19-12. http://www.thecaseagainsthomework.com/ 11. No Homework: A Growing Trend?. Education.com. 3-27-2007. 10-18-12. http://www.education.com/magazine/article/Ed_No_Homework_Growing/ 12. No Homework: A Growing Trend?. Education.com. 3-27-2007. 10-18-12. http://www.education.com/magazine/article/Ed_No_Homework_Growing/