At the recent Board of Education meeting, there was a discussion regarding homework policy, as part of the larger discussion around the monitoring report for Effective Learning Environment (E040). The topic had been raised before, seemingly in the context of ensuring the consistency of the application of the homework policy across the district. See specifically pages 6-7 and pages 12-13.
Pages 12-13 deal with the “Prior Years” management issue around homework, specifically, "the District will be examining research on homework and its relationship to student achievement." The monitoring report references a book (Visible Learning) which brings together 800 studies around student achievement. I reproduce the summary contained in the monitoring report below. I have not read the book (it is not in the Greenwich Library collection).
The recommendation is that the district form a committee of teachers, parents and administrators to explore the homework issue. From my reading, the research indicates support for less/no homework at the elementary school level, based on the lack of a significant impact on achievement.
One comment from a Board member was that parents use homework as a means to understand what is going on. This may indicate a lack of communication, or a lack of informative reports cards (there's a surprise), or both.
Personal note: looking back, I don't recall having any significant or regular homework until seventh grade. I still remember the excitement when we got our first homework assignments. Boy, did that end quickly.
This begs the question, in relation to learning such things as basic math facts: If the current direction is that math facts are to be practiced at home, what would happen if there was no more homework? Would that drilling return to the schools/teachers? Would it fall by the side of the road completely? Perhaps ending the ridiculous Everyday Math homework and letting parents drill their kids in the math facts in the time saved would be an effective answer (and one which appears to be supported by the research - see the seventh bullet point regarding "Effects are highest...."). But what about the parents who are working, or don't get the importance? Will the achievement gap widen? Tough questions.____________________________________________________________
Highlights of Research on Homework
Educational researcher John Hattie spent fifteen years reviewing thousands of studies involving millions of students and teachers on the impact of different influences on student achievement. His findings are summarized in the book Visible Learning: A Synthesis of over 800 Meta-Analyses Relating to Achievement. Effect sizes standardize changes in student achievement allowing us to compare the impact of different factors (an effect size of 1.0 equals one standard deviation). The typical effect size across all the studies Hattie reviewed is d =.40, and the author proposes that this is the level where a strategy or practice begins to noticeably impact student achievement. In Hattie’s words, "The effect size of 0.40 sets a level where the effects of innovation enhance achievement in such a way that we can notice real-world differences and this should be the benchmark of such real-world change."(p. 17) The list below presents highlights from Hattie’s meta-analyses on homework.
• The correlation between time spent on homework and achievement is near zero for elementary students.
• Greater effects for older students vs. younger students.
• Effects of homework are twice as large for high school students as for middle school students. Effects are twice as large for middle school students as for elementary school students.
• Greater effects for high ability students vs. low ability students.
• Higher effects when material was not complex or if it was novel.
• Homework involving higher level conceptual thinking and project based was the least effective.
• Effects are highest when homework involves rote learning, practice, or rehearsal of subject matter.
• Research favored short, frequent homework that was closely monitored by teachers.
• Homework does not help students develop time management skills.
• Direct parental instructional involvement in homework showed a negative relationship with achievement, while parental support for independent homework showed a positive relationship.
• Hattie meta-analyses describes a "Zone of Desired Effects" which ranges from
d= 0.40 to 1.2. The effect for homework is d= 0.29
• Negative impacts of homework:
Can undermine motivation
Can cause students to internalize incorrect routines and strategies
Can reinforce less effective study habits
Hattie, J.A.C. (2009). Visible Learning: A Synthesis of Over 800 Meta-Analyses Relating to Achievement. New York: