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Dublin School Board to Debate Homework and Grading Policy at Tonight’s Board Meeting

May 24, 2016

DUBLIN, CA–Triggered by community concerns over student stress and wellness, and powerful documentaries including Race to Nowhere and Beyond Measure, the Dublin High School recently convened a Homework and Grading Committee consisting of School Board Members Dan Cunningham and Megan Rouse, administration, teachers and parents (full list available here). The committee has identified a series of Dublin Unified School District policy changes which will be given a first reading at tonight’s Board of Trustees meeting (5/24).

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Dublin isn’t the only Bay Area school district to struggle with the challenge of balancing wellness and achievement. The high-performing Palo Alto Unified School District, which has seen student suicide clusters in 2009 and again in 2014, recently eliminated zero period for academic classes in response to concerns about the link between lack of sleep and wellness. The CDC recently published a multi-year study connecting sleep deprivation in teenagers to injury-related risk behaviors: “Insufficient sleep is common among high school students and has been associated with an increased risk for motor vehicle crashes, sports injuries, and occupational injuries.” (source)

The diminishing returns of too much homework has also been widely studied. Stanford University’s Denise Pope explored homework in her study the ‘Nonacademic Effects of Homework in Privileged, High-Performing High Schools‘. “Pope and her colleagues found that too much homework can diminish its effectiveness and even be counterproductive. They cite prior research indicating that homework benefits plateau at about two hours per night, and that 90 minutes to two and a half hours is optimal for high school.” (source)

Parents concerned about this issue are encouraged to attend and make public comments.

Below is a summary of key recommended changes to the existing DUSD policy:

  • Add the following statement: “The Board of education strongly believes in the balance of wellness and achievement”
  • Expand the definition of homework to: “Homework is defined as any task assigned to students by school teachers that are meant to be carried out during non‐school hours. It includes independent preview, practice or completion of skills and concepts taught during class, projects, test and performance preparation, and daily independent reading.”
  • Consistent with reasons for advancing the start of the school year for 2016-17:  “The Winter Break is intended to be a time that is free from school work for students and staff. There should be no expectations on the part of students or staff that schoolwork is done over this period. No assignments should be given over the Winter Break and any long term assignments given before the Winter Break should not be due during the first week back from the Break.”
  • Regarding additional breaks: “The Board further recognizes that all major holidays, such as Thanksgiving and Spring Break, are important periods of rest and relaxation for students, teachers, and families.”
  • Regarding the homework guidelines: “Homework is designed to be up to 2 hours per
    night, or 8-10 hours per week, if the student is not enrolled in any advanced courses.
    Each honors and advanced placement course may require additional homework of up to an hour per night per course. Parents and students shall* use the course catalog to determine approximate HW loads. Students are encouraged to take small breaks if their total focused HW time takes longer than 2 hours per night.”
  • The following point which excluded Honors and Advanced Placement courses from the policy is deleted.

Complete summary of recommendation policy changes.

 

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2 Comments
  1. Wilfredo Yee permalink
    May 24, 2016 12:46 pm

    Homeworks are fine to a certain degree. If it induces stress and an overwhelming sense of frustration emotionally and psychologically to the students because of quantity and volume and illogical expectations from the teachers, then they are very destructive to the self esteem and sense of worth to the student themselves. I’ve seen my daughter cry in frustration in doing math work, science projects that are due, other homeworks, aside from her other activities. And she’s a straight A student. We as parents, try to do our part by helping her by assisting in her projects. In short, we become students as well by doing this, which should not happen! However, because of the unrealistic homework and project demands by some teachers, we as parents have no choice but to help our daughter in distress! I went through this as well and know the rigors of being a student trying to achieve an A grade for every subject. A little homework is fine but not too much. Friday should be a homework free day as well as Monday. But would recommend reading assignments for the corresponding subject to be discussed on Mondays. Tuesday’s through Thursday’s should be exercises as well as projects. They have Friday through Monday to rest and recover. Thank you.
    Educational Background: Assoc in Applied Sciences
    BS Technology and Mgmt
    Masters in Business Administration

  2. Gary permalink
    May 25, 2016 5:43 am

    Follow the research…our opinions don’t matter. Just as the department of health bases policy on what research demonstrates as best practice, the department of education should do the same. If research demonstrates that there is no academic benefit to assigning homework in the elementary grades, then the decision should be clear.

Comments are closed.