While a new homework policy has been implemented for the 2019-20 school year that limits teachers of non-advanced courses to assigning a maximum of 2 hours of homework per week, there are some who question its effectiveness.
According to Principal John Walker, the policy was reviewed by the district Governing Board prior to its implementation.
Walker also explained that the policy was created in an effort to reduce student stress by encouraging teachers to reevaluate the importance of the homework loads they assign. According to the 2019 Stanford Survey of Student Success, 60.3% of students felt they had too much homework.
There are instructors who have embraced the effort to reduce student homework loads. “I do agree with the homework policy. I think there’s too much homework in the school, and there has been historically,” said math teacher Nick Schoen. “There has been all kinds of scientific data published to prove how it’s not good.”
Some students have noticed a change as a result of the recent implementation. “I definitely don’t like having busy work, but I think my teachers have been generally really good about it and maybe having that rule helps teachers be more aware of it,” said junior Zoe Heidersbach.
Yet some take issue with the policy, believing it does not acknowledge the varying abilities of each student. “It’s just different for every student how long they take on their homework. It might take me 2 hours to read these 5 chapters, but it could take someone else 3 hours, ” said sophomore Kendall Keely.
The policy also does not account for all the types of class-related activities that may be required of a student. “It doesn’t include studying, which takes up so much more time than homework anyways, and teachers don’t count it as a part of homework,” said junior Jocelyn Poon.
Some teachers also believe reducing homework may actually be detrimental for some students. “This 2 hour ideology doesn’t take into account the amount of effort some students want to put into their work,” said Jake Donohoe, who teaches English 2 and Honors English. “I think some students don’t need 2 hours, but some students need more than 2 hours in order to be as competitive as they want to be.”
Some students also find it problematic that the policy doesn’t apply to AP or honors classes. “Honestly, I don’t know how much this policy is really going to help because the most stressful classes are AP’s anyways, and there’s no way around that. It’s really the people who take a ton of AP’s that have way too much homework and need help with managing stress,” said Poon.
On the other hand, some have noted that students overloading themselves with AP classes should not be a concern, as those student are responsible for their own decision to take on the extra work.
“You make the bed so you are gonna have to deal with all the homework and it’s not mandatory to take that many AP’s either,” said Schoen.
“It’s been hard having all the homework that I do, but I think that if someone signs up for an AP class they have to know that they can’t go through all that work without having a decent amount of homework,” said Heidersbach, who takes 5 AP’s and 1 honors class.
According to Walker, regulating homework hours for advanced classes would not be possible. “The committee that recommended the new policy, to the governing board, debated whether to include the honors and AP classes, under that 2 hour time frame and after we reviewed the curriculum and talk to teachers, we felt like there are cases where it’s going to need to be more than 2 hours per week per class, that it would be too difficult to get through all the curriculum.”
Schoen, who teaches Algebra 2/Precalc Honors, a class that compresses 1 1/2 year’s worth of material into 1 year, said that it would be problematic to limit the practice problems he gives out for homework. “It’s not busywork as that there’s just so much material – all the homework questions and it is not nearly enough practice,” said Schoen.
“I’m not sure we can ever have a blanket policy that works for every student. I would really hope as teachers that we would encourage students to communicate with us that if they are feeling overwhelmed by the amount of homework that they are assigned,” said Donohoe. “In general I want teachers and students to be communicative with each other and allow for flexibility.”