Many low-income parents value homework as an important connection to the school and the curriculum—even as their children report receiving little homework.
Overall, high-school students relate that they spend less than one hour per day on homework, on average, and only 42 percent say they do it five days per week.
In one recent survey by the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), a minimal 13 percent of 17-year-olds said they had devoted more than two hours to homework the previous evening (see Figure 1).
Recent years have seen an increase in the amount of homework assigned to students in grades K–2, and critics point to research findings that, at the elementary-school level, homework does not appear to enhance children’s learning.
She eats dinner at and then goes to bed, unless there is more homework to do, in which case she’ll get to bed around 10.” The girls miss out on sleep, and weeknight family dinners are tough to swing.
Parental concerns about their children’s homework loads are nothing new.Or is homework just a headache—another distraction from family time and downtime, already diminished by the likes of music and dance lessons, sports practices, and part-time jobs?Allison, a mother of two middle-school girls from an affluent Boston suburb, describes a frenetic afterschool scenario: “My girls do gymnastics a few days a week, so homework happens for my 6th grader after gymnastics, at p.m. My 8th grader does her homework immediately after school, up until gymnastics.“Quality homework is engaging and relevant to kids’ lives,” says Wheelock’s Janine Bempechat.“It gives them autonomy and engages them in the community and with their families.Suzanne Capek Tingley started as a high school English/Spanish teacher, transitioned to middle school, and eventually became a principal, superintendent, and adjunct professor in education administration at the State University of New York.She is the author of the funny, but practical book for teachers, How to Handle Difficult Parents (Prufrock Press).Researchers rely on correlational research in this area of study given the difficulties of randomly assigning students to homework/no-homework conditions.While correlation does not imply causality, extensive research has established that at the middle- and high-school levels, homework completion is strongly and positively associated with high achievement.In short, homework is a key vehicle through which we can help shape children into mature learners.The Homework-Achievement Connection A narrow focus on whether or not homework boosts grades and test scores in the short run thus ignores a broader purpose in education, the development of lifelong, confident learners.