Brookings study: Homework amount consistent, people complaining more

18 Mar

Moi has posted quite a bit about homework. In Pros and cons of homework:
Vicki Abeles directed a very popular documentary, “The Race to Nowhere.” John Merrow, education correspondent for PBS writes in the Huffington Post article, ‘Race to Nowhere:’ It’s no ‘Waiting for ‘Superman’, ‘ but it’s Honest:

By now it seems we have all reviewed “Waiting for ‘Superman’,” but what’s surprising is that WFS is just one of four or five movies about education now out. A few weeks ago I reviewed WFS, and now I’ve decided to review the rest of them, beginning with “Race to Nowhere,” the 2009 film made by first-time director (and angry parent) Vicki Abeles.
“Race to Nowhere” is a film about how schools and parental pressure are affecting students’ mental and emotional wellbeing. WFS portrays our schools as undemanding; “Race to Nowhere” says the opposite — that we are killing our kids, figuratively and sometimes literally….
Some moments in “Race to Nowhere” just jump off the screen. One that I found particularly compelling: a young woman speaking on a panel asks her audience to identify the worst question a parent can ask his or her child. Turns out, she says, it’s a one-word question. Just
“And?” As in this circumstance:
Child: “I’m taking three honors courses.”
Parent: “And?”
Child: “Well, I have the lead in the school play.”
Parent: “And?”
Child: “I made the volleyball team.”
Parent: “And?”You get the picture. The parents are never satisfied, and the child can never relax. Life for these students is nothing but stress and unrealistic expectations. The world the film conjures up is all too familiar: students are expected to perform and produce but aren’t given time to play.

See, Why ‘Race to Nowhere’ documentary is wrong

Kenneth Goldberg, a clinical psychologist with 35 years of professional experience working with children, adolescents and adults writes in the Washington Post about homework. He is also the author of “The Homework Trap: How to Save the Sanity of Parents, Students and Teachers.” In Why Some Kids Cant Do Homework And What Teachers Should Do About It, Goldberg writes:

Parents do not send their children to school planning to challenge the system. They are eager for their children to learn and they want to help out if they can. They expect their children will comply. Often, it works. Sometimes, it does not.
Too often, we look at homework noncompliance as a problem of motivation when the fact is that these children simply cannot do the work (or at least do all of the work). These children need homework relief, and, above all, they need for their parents to call the shots.
So teachers, go ahead and assign, and take some liberty in making school fun. If you step on some toes, offer an apology and go on. But also, honor the boundaries between home and school. If a child is making a lot of excuses, ask the parents for help, and look to them for direction about what to do. If that parent says her child cannot do the work, or can do only half of the work, or can only work for half an hour and then has to be excused, accept the fact that the class is your zone, the home belongs to the parent, and, in the home, the parents should have the final say.
You may also like:
Why homework is counterproductive
The insanity of too much homework

There are benefits for some children to have homework, with limitations to the amount of time needed to complete the homework.
The Brown Center for Education of Brookings studied the amount of homework historically.

Joy Resmovits of Huffington Post reported in the article, Students Probably Do Less Homework Than You Think, Study Says:

The portrait of the American student buried under a crippling load of homework has been way overblown in news articles, argues a new report from the Brookings Institution, a Washington-based think tank.
Homework loads have actually been stable over the last 30 years, despite front-page reports of overworked kids and a century-old “war on homework,” according to the report, one of three released Tuesday by Brookings’ Brown Center on Education Policy. The study relies on federal surveys of students before they took the National Assessment of Educational Progress, a parental survey by MetLife, and University of California, Los Angeles’s Higher Education Research Institute survey of college freshmen.
The image of kids drowning in homework has been swirling for years. In 1900, Ladies Home Journal editor Edward Bok called homework “A National Crime at the Feet of Parents,” resulting in what the new study’s author, Tom Loveless, called “an anti-homework campaign … that grew into a national crusade.”
In 1901, California banned homework for any student younger than 15. More recently, major publications have joined the war on homework, arguing it hurts students — in part, said Loveless, due to the No Child Left Behind Act’s focus on student performance. Last fall, The Atlantic magazine featured a titled “My Daughter’s Homework is Killing Me.”
The war on homework also has gained steam recently from parents concerned about a new wave of standardized tests attached to the Common Core State Standards.
But the Brookings study gives ammunition to those who worry students actually may have too little homework….

Here is an excerpt by Tom Loveless of the report on Homework from Brookings:

Part II is on homework, updating a study presented in the 2003 Brown Center Report. That study was conducted at a time when homework was on the covers of several popular magazines. The charge then was that the typical student’s homework load was getting out of control. The 2003 study examined the best evidence on students’ homework burden and found the charge to be an exaggeration.
Now, a little more than a decade later, homework is again under attack. In 2011, the New York Times ran a front page story describing “a wave of districts across the nation trying to remake homework amid concerns that high stakes testing and competition for college have fueled a nightly grind that is stressing out children and depriving them of play and rest, yet doing little to raise achievement, especially in elementary grades.”[1] A September 2013 Atlantic article, “My Daughter’s Homework is Killing Me,” featured a father who spent a week doing the same three or more hours of nightly homework as his daughter.
The current study finds little evidence that the homework load has increased for the average student. Those with a heavy burden, two or more hours of homework per night, do indeed exist, but they are a distinct minority. The maximum size of the heavy homework group is less than 15%, and that’s true even for 17-year-olds. In national polls, parents are more likely to say their children have too little homework than too much. And a solid majority says the amount of their children’s homework is about right. With one exception, the homework load has remained stable since 1984. The exception involves nine-year-olds, primarily because the percentage of nine-year-olds with no homework declined while the percentage with some homework—but less than an hour—increased. Click here for an animated visual display of many of Part II’s findings.

The key is the quality of the homework and the relevance of the homework to the education objective or plan for a particular child. See, Is homework a necessary evil?


Homework Help

Homework Tips for Parents

Click to access homeworktips.pdf


Pros and cons of homework

Is homework a necessary evil?

Indiana University study: Homework doesn’t improve grades

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