Santa Monica Observer Newspaper
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Santa Monica, CA 90404
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SMMUSD Parents Say Too Much Homework for Tweens
The district has not revised its homework policy since 1989. At that time, the school board recommended the following time allotments for homework for students above elementary school:
By Alyssa Erdley
A survey of parent opinions on homework conducted by the Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District this April shows a marked difference in satisfaction between elementary school and the higher grades.
More than half of elementary school parents said they are satisfied with the amount of homework their child is receiving. In contrast, less than thirty percent of middle and high school parents are happy with the amount of work coming home.
Most unhappy are middle school parents, with 52.1 percent reporting their child has too much homework.
956 parents responded to the survey, which represents less than 10 percent of the district. This may be a reflection of the haphazard manner in which parents were notified of the survey, via small notes tucked into PTA announcements, or simply by word of mouth. Samohi reported the highest response, at 18 percent, followed closely by Lincoln (16.3 percent) and Roosevelt (16.2 percent). Malibu High School gave no responses at all.
Grade 6: 15 to 20 minutes per class or about 1 hour total
Grade 7: 20 to 30 minutes per class or about 1 hour, 30 minutes total.
Grade 8: 30 to 40 minutes per class or about 2 hours total.
Grades 9-12: two or three hours daily.
In reality, middle schoolers are receiving, on average, much more. Official policy at Lincoln can nearly double district policy for 6th grade, up to 2 hours per night. Many middle school parents report children receiving 3 hours of homework per night. At a recent orientation at John Adams Middle School, parents were advised not to allow their child to participate in more than one activity outside of school because of the projected homework load.
The dissatisfaction of parents with excessive homework in the higher grades appears to be a common-sense reflection of a truth being borne out by recent research at Duke University.
Harris Cooper, PhD, director of the education program at Duke, finds that homework is beneficial to test scores, but only to a limit. 6th- to 9th-graders who limit homework to 90 minutes per night will actually do better on tests than those who study longer. For high schoolers, the break-off point is 2 hours.
Dr. Sally Chou, Chief Academic Officer of the district admits that the meta-analysis research on the subject of excessive hours of homework shows that, "there's some gain [in test scores], but for the most part it really isn't a huge gain."
Cooper suggests teachers follow a rule of 10 minutes of homework per night per grade. A 6th grader, in this case, should receive 1 hour of homework per night. This time rule, Cooper claims, is optimum for learning.
The district's parent survey shows that nearly a third of middle schoolers are actually receiving more than 2 hours of homework per night.
Maureen Bradford, director of Educational Services, who administered and recorded the results of the survey, says the survey was for informational purposes only, and no action is necessarily going to be taken based on the results.
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