Some schools limit or eliminate homework

Lisa Gartner, writing in The Washington Examiner, reports that at Gaithersburg Elementary School, students are asked to read every night; however, they are not given homework. This year, this Montgomery County school will also assign monthly projects in math or science; however, the projects won’t be graded.

The Examiner article points out that some educators now question the rough standard of 10 minutes of homework per grade level per day that many school systems follow. Gartner notes that the University of Sydney in Australia recently published a study finding that homework added no real benefit to elementary-level learning but paid off for high school juniors and seniors.

Lucy Gunter, the Fairfax County School Board’s student representative, says, “Limiting homework time should be  a goal of this board.”

At the school board’s Instruction work session held July 19, the homework policies for Cunningham Park Elementary School and South Lakes High School were presented. Here are the two policies:

Cunningham Park Elementary School
Homework Policy

At Cunningham Park Elementary, we believe:

  • Children shall engage in homework for the purpose of pre-learning, checking for understanding, or practice.
  • Children shall have homework they can complete without help.
  • Children shall have a balanced life including academics, social, emotional, and physical activities.
  • Having homework students are able to complete on their own provides them with a positive self concept and a sense of self efficacy.

Our homework policy is based on best practice research and is supported by the work of many leaders in education such as Cathy Vatterott, Robert Marzano, and Dr. Harris Cooper. It is also supported by FCPS Regulation 3205.

At Cunningham Park Elementary, accepted homework practices include:

1. Grades K-3 will not exceed 30 minutes of homework per night. Grades 4-6 will not exceed 60 minutes of homework per night. These time allotments include teacher assigned reading.
2. If they cannot complete homework without help, children shall be entitled to reteaching or modified assignments.
3. There will be no homework assigned on weekends or holidays.
4. Homework will be used for formative purposes only and therefore will not be graded.
5. Homework will be tailored to match the varying needs of students’ learning styles, primary languages, and home support systems.
6. Recess will not be used as a time to complete unfinished homework, or as a consequence for incomplete assignments.


South Lakes High School
Homework Policy (April, 2012)
At South Lakes High School we believe in high academic rigor and expectations. We believe homework, which takes place outside of the school day, is essential in helping students learn and grow. For homework and other outside learning experiences to be beneficial they must be balanced and meaningful. Therefore, the following research-based expectations have been developed to assist teachers, administrators, students, and parents in guiding effective homework practices.

Homework Definition (Cooper, H.)
Tasks assigned to students by school teachers that are meant to be carried out during nonschool hours.
Homework Quality (Vatterott, C.)

  • SLHS teachers strive for meaningful homework assignments which include the following hallmarks:

o Purpose – The assignment has value and students understand the purpose. Meaningful feedback will be provided.
o Efficiency – The time allotted is appropriate and the assignment will yield evidence of learning. The assignment appears manageable.
o Ownership – Tasks are customized or differentiated to fit learning styles, interests, or needs.
o Competence – The assignment will not discourage students and is of the appropriate level of difficulty. Differentiating homework based on student need is recommended.

Homework Policies

  • Homework will count for no more than 10% of a student’s overall grade (not including long-term projects, major written assignments, or performances).
  • Late homework assignments may be penalized up to a 30% deduction.

o Teachers may establish hard due dates such as a week before the end of the quarter or the end of a major unit of study after which there may be an increased penalty or assignments may no longer be accepted resulting in loss of credit for the assignment.

  • 1.5 – 2.5 hours per night (30 – 45 minutes per class) is widely accepted.

o Students taking IB or co-curricular courses may at times exceed this recommendation due to external deadlines and expectations; however, teachers should monitor time spent on homework in an effort to meet the recommendation, provide checkpoints to help students pace appropriately, and take steps to balance IB requirements and additional homework assignments.

  • Subject area teams should collaborate regarding major homework assignments.
  • Homework should be utilized for practice, review, or checking for understanding, as opposed to a self-teaching tool.
  • Growth producing feedback should be provided on homework assignments.
  • Students should be free from homework during Thanksgiving, winter, and spring breaks.

o Long term assignments should not be due the first class meeting back from break and clear checkpoints should be established.

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