- Most of today’s homework assignments are based on the Common Core standards, but the tasks cover “low-level skills” and are considered by parents to be below their children’s abilities, according to the results of a survey released Wednesday by the Center for American Progress (CAP).
- The results are drawn from the responses of 372 parents, with almost three-fourths reporting they have children at the elementary level. While the sample was not randomly selected, it was nationally representative, which varies from previous analyses of homework that focused on assignments from a particular district, the authors write.
- Homework should be strategic and rigorous, and stick to the 10-minute-per-grade-level rule, the authors recommend. They also urge districts to conduct periodic homework audits, ensure students have sufficient access to technology and the internet to compete their work, and consider homework when redesigning curriculum and instruction.
The CAP report is the third in recent months to provide a closer look at the day-in, day-out work of students and teachers. In September, “The Opportunity Myth” from nonprofit The New Teacher Project showed that less than one-fifth of the assignments students complete meet college readiness standards, and that low-income students, English language learners, students of color and those with disabilities are far less likely than students not in those groups to be assigned grade-level work.
Also last fall, education consultant and former school and district administrator Joe Feldman released an analysis of teachers’ grading practices, suggesting that assignments are subjectively graded, biased against less-affluent and generally lower-performing students, and may overlook a student’s recent progress.
Homework — and probably how it’s graded — however, could be “a valuable opportunity to support student achievement," the CAP report says. “The authors believe that access to grade-level content at home will increase the positive impact of adopting more rigorous content standards."
Grading and assignments — whether in class or at home — are areas that can be difficult to change, however, because they are practices over which teachers tend to think they should have some flexibility and be able to use their professional judgment. Personalized learning programs can allow teachers to customize assignments to students varying abilities, the authors write. But some districts in recent years have been rejecting the idea of homework or emphasizing reading over routine assignments. While eliminating homework may not benefit students that could use some extra practice, it’s clear that what and how much is assigned will continue to be a subject of debate.