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  • Writer's pictureJoanne Jacobs

Homework load keeps getting lighter as grades go higher

Forty-four percent of 13-year-olds (eighth grade) did no homework in 2022, writes Tom Loveless. The numbers are very similar for nine-year-olds (fourth grade). Most say none was assigned; the others just didn't do it.


Ten years earlier, only 26 percent of older students were in the no-work category; 23 percent of the younger students reported doing no work in 2008.


As with "public school enrollment losses, stagnant test scores, reports of disruptive students, chronic absenteeism -- the pandemic seemed to magnify, but not initiate, trends that had started earlier," he writes.


What about those stressed-out students burdened with hours of work each night? "Few students have ever faced two hours per day of homework, despite anti-homework hysteria that broke out in the late 1990s and extended into the early 2000's," writes Loveless. Five percent of 13-year-olds said they do at least two hours of homework per night in 2023; only 3 percent of 9-year-olds do that much.


How much should students do? That's another question, he writes. But post-pandemic students are behind earlier cohorts in academic achievement, as well as in attendance and behavior.


A new study on lenient grading policies -- no penalties for late work, half-credit for missed assignments, multiple retakes and so on -- found already high-achieving students earned higher grades, but not test scores. The policy also increased absenteeism for low-achieving students. Researchers predict it will widen achievement gaps.


These policies are driving teachers crazy, writes Jessica Grose in the New York Times. A teacher told her:

“Even if they plagiarize or cheat on something, well, it’s a 50 percent.” If they get two out of 10 on a quiz, he said, that’s automatically bumped up to a five out of 10. He said grades are no longer tied to attendance, and that grading quarters are merged, so some students “quickly found that if they could have a passing grade in the first one or two quarters, they could just stop coming to school.”

Absenteeism is way up -- and so are graduation rates, notes Thomas Dee, a Stanford education professor.

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8 Comments


Guest
Oct 07, 2023

Well isn't it obvious? All the kids really applied themselves and the teachers found out that browsing those travel websites could be super productive and they could learn alot about Carribean geography and islands just like the heavy set lady named randy said they would.

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Guest
Oct 12, 2023
Replying to

I have no idea what this is supposed to mean or what it is referring to.

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Bruce Smith
Bruce Smith
Oct 07, 2023

I never cease to be amazed at how Americans can't do better than this. By contrast, my students come to me, including from overseas (by Zoom, as I'll teach tonight), because they want more homework, so that they can do more learning: their day schools, even highly rated ones, are inadequate for their desires, which becomes understandable, as I read the attitudes implicit in the comments so often published on this blog.

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Guest
Oct 06, 2023

Homework is done at school - in study hall or in a double period core class or with an academic intervention person. Quite a lot is seatwork that could not be finished in class due to disruptions or need for 'help'. Studying is what is done at home, and requires parental support because resources such as textbooks are lacking.


There is an attitude that 'just enough for the pass' is all that is needed. So, mathematically secure, those that have earned the grade they want stop. Can't say I blame them in the era when coloring assignments are given in high school. Up the content and a large portion will stay long enough and learn enough to secure the pas…

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Guest
Oct 06, 2023

But what happens to a school district that fails 20 or 30 percent of their students? There would be a huge uproar because people want high standards and want everyone to pass without realizing that those to goals conflict.

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Guest
Oct 06, 2023

At my school, the kids have chromebooks at school. The kids a couple years ago could take them home but too many of them "went missing" or the student "forgot" it at home; thus, they would come to school the next day without the proper materials. So the school said that the students will just keep their chromebooks in school and not take them home. Well then the students couldn't do the homework because they had no device and/or internet at home. So the school directed us for this year not to give out any homework that could be done by computer.


Well, you may be thinking to just do it on worksheets for things like Math. Because everything is…

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Guest
Oct 09, 2023
Replying to

Homework doesn't work for the truly bright...most homework is not designed to deepen learning or increase fluency. These students benefit from study time and discussion with a mentor or tutor. They also benefit from being in a class that doesn't move at the slow pace with tremendous review that an included student needs.

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