toorsdenote: (jcreed)
[personal profile] toorsdenote
I am cross-posting this from Facebook so I can get feedback from education-y people who hang out here instead of there:

I forgot who asked me to share research about elementary school homework, but here is a very readable starting point from Slate. This is a controversial question in education research, and the Slate piece skews toward reading homework naysayers, but I think it's moderately even-handed.

This is the NEA's official statement, which cites Cooper's metastudy as evidence: "At the elementary school level, homework can help students develop study skills and habits and can keep families informed about their child's learning. At the secondary school level, student homework is associated with greater academic achievement."

Soooo, reading slightly between the lines, student homework is not really associated with greater academic achievement in elementary school. (Actually, Cooper found very mild effects from 4th grade up.) The "can help students develop study skills," as far as I can tell, is pure handwaving: i.e., we know it doesn't help them academically, but hey, maybe it's helping them non-academically. I am unaware of studies that actually examine whether homework DOES help six-year-olds develop study skills. (And I have doubts about what that even means.)

This is why Falk, the totally research-/best-practices-based school here in Pittsburgh, has no homework till 3rd grade. The NEA is more conservative, using Cooper's research to suggest a max of 10 minutes per night per grade, starting in first grade (i.e., 10 minutes/day in first grade, 20 minutes/day in second grade). But on the younger end of the spectrum that really is, as the Slate article says, "an act of faith" -- it is not based on actual research that first grade homework does anything at all. The NEA does NOT recommend homework for kindergarteners.

I have not questioned Z's teacher/school administration about her homework, because there's not a ton of it and she genuinely enjoys it. But I am very cognizant of all the kids out there who hate their homework, and who start to hate schoolwork as a result. I think we tend to say -- about a lot of things, including assigning homework -- "Well, we might as well, because it might help." Instead we should actually be considering the costs and risks of requiring something that DOESN'T help. Requiring people to do something of very questionable benefit (from removing shoes at the airport to undergoing annual pap smears) has a real cost, both in terms of opportunity costs and in terms of false negatives and simply in terms of lost goodwill. When the world is full of little kids (is it sexist of me to say: often squirmy little boys) who hate homework and quite likely get no benefit from it, assigning it isn't a neutral "well, might as well"; it may well be actively BAD.

Thoughts from education experts? Because I am definitely not one.


I then posted this link as a comment, as a slightly more pro-homework-leaning starting place.
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