Homework horror? Not for most kids

Homework horror stories are true for a small group of students, but most U.S. students aren’t working harder than in the past, according to Brookings’ 2014 Report on American Education. Nine-year-olds are more likely to have homework — usually less than an hour’s worth — but the workload hasn’t changed much for older students. Only 7 percent of 13-year-olds and 13 percent of 17-year-olds say they spent more than two hours on homework on the previous day. Studying is not a top priority for collegebound seniors, reports UCLA’s Higher Education Research Institute. Asked about their senior year in high school, more than half of college freshmen say they spent at least six hours per week socializing with friends (66.2%) and exercising/sports (53.0%).  About 40% devoted that much weekly time to paid employment. Homework ranks fourth: Only 38.4% say they spent six or more hours a week on their studies. “The survey is confined to the nation’s best students, those attending college,” notes the report. “And yet only a little more than one-third of the sampled students, devoted more than six hours per week to homework and studying when they were on the verge of attending college.”

Most parents say their children get the right amount of homework. Of those who disagree, more say their kids get too little than too much. “The homework horror stories . . .  seem to originate from the very personal discontents of a small group of parents,” Brookings concludes.

The homework burden is heavy at high-performing schools in affluent neighborhoods. Students competing to get into elite colleges work very hard. But the average student is not studying very much.

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  1. Homework may not be a problem in the future anyway.

    Over at Coyote Blog, pondering the impact of the Obama Admin. move on wage rules for salary employees, the impact of overtime costs cutting back on at home work was considered, including teachers grading papers.

    “PS- Well, for those who think schools assign too much homework, this could well be the end of homework. The most dangerous possible thing with hourly workers is to give them the ability to assign themselves unlimited overtime. Teachers could do this at home with grading papers. If I were a school, I would ban teachers from doing any grading or schoolwork prep at home — after all, it’s hourly and probably overtime and they could work unlimited hours at home and how would you get it under control? The only way to manage it would be to ban it entirely.”

    Any manager with a budget would definitely put an end to that at-home work due to the threat of uncontrollable overtime claims.

  2. Roger Sweeny says:

    “Students competing to get into elite colleges work very hard. But the average student is not studying very much.”

    So hard-working young people get into selective colleges. Could that have anything to do with why graduates of selective colleges are generally more successful than graduates of non-selective colleges?

    • Well, success is not so much tied to graduating from a selective college, but rather, being a student who could get into a selective college. I like to think that “rule” is based more on having the scholastic characteristics than the quota driven selection criteria used by selective schools.

  3. Students have too much energy these days, teachers need to get students active in their own learning rather than standing and performing tirelessly to her/his students.Ending with teacher doing alot and students doing very little.

    Learners learn by doing and being active in the process.
    Recently read about the flipped classroom idea and loved it. Students watch videos at home only so that the teacher can spend less time in the class doing the chalk and talk content and can move straight into activities with students so that they can demonstrate understanding, create and move to those higher order thinking skills that most teachers barely cover.

    Students don’t need more of the same as homework in the way of worksheets to review. They want you to engage them , most students are visual learners so lets tap into that channel- videos on u-tube, questions on edmodo and gaming as the new homework.

  4. Only 1/3 having 6+ hrs a week of homework/study sounds like 2/3 are not being offered challenging courses. My district is one of those that don’t see the ‘need’…the money goes for sped, not electives such as AP or Honors Science courses, Foreign Language after Year 3, Calculus etc. If the student cannot pay for Dual Enrollment, then yes indeed they will be in five periods of study hall unless they elect art, drafting, nutrition, or child care – all gen ed classes. The req’d 2 courses that they are taking do not amount to six hours of hw per week.

    • That’s undoubtedly true at many schools – and an unconscionable waste of human talent. However, a not-insignificant number of kids, even at “good” suburban schools, simply refuse to do any work outside of school – even to read a few pages of literature for English. A teacher relative had to deal with this reality; her kids in non-honors college prep did no work (and arrived in HS with REALLY weak reading and writing ability) but her IB and pre-IB kids were very hard workers and spent whatever time was necessary to complete reading assignments and write good essays.

  5. When school stops- they say that is when the learning begins. Many students chose to play and learn online after school on social media sites etc. Is this not the new homework?

    With the introduction of school net etc, teachers don’t need to grade papers, they are created online or scanned into the system and it is graded for the teacher. That does away with the need for teacher overtime does it not?

    I think the main issue is how do we spend the time we have in school teaching what the students need to know to be prepared for the 21st century. The pages in textbooks have increased over the last 10 years in the United States and our scores have continued to drop against our international counterparts. I true believe it is not how much we do but what we do. ( quality versus quantity)