Elite schools ease up on homework

Some ultra-competitive private schools are assigning less homework to avoid overstressing students, reports the New York Times.  Of course, that means cutting back to only four hours a night or perhaps even 3.5 hours.

Dalton invited Harris Cooper, a professor of neuroscience and psychology at Duke University, to speak last spring about the link between homework and learning. “At five hours a night,” he said of the homework burden, “they likely won’t do any worse if they only bring home four.”

. . . Denise Pope, a senior lecturer at the Stanford School of Education, co-authored a 2007 paper that looked at 496 students at one private and one public school and found that those with more than 3.5 hours of homework a night had an increased risk of physical and mental health issues, like sleep deprivation, ulcers and headaches. In a separate study of 26 schools, Ms. Pope said, 67 percent of more than 10,000 students reported that they were “often” or “always” stressed out.

“At some point, we say too much is too much,” Ms. Pope said. “In our study, that’s 3.5 hours.”

Not all schools are scaling back: Some parents equate heavy backpacks and sleep deprivation with excellence.

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