Students in a Florida elementary school district just received the best news imaginable.
From now on, they won’t receive any homework.
Yes, before you ask, there is a catch, but most students would gladly accept the arrangement. Instead of traditional homework, students will be required to read for 20 minutes each night. They’re free to decide what they want to read and parents are even encouraged to join in.
Heidi Maier, the superintendent of the Marion County public school district in Florida, implemented the policy after researching the role of homework in education. The policy will apply to about 20,000 of Marion County’s 42,000 public school students. Although students in elementary school and middle school will not receive homework, high schoolers will continue to get homework.
Maier said that the school district is fully committed to the program. When children don’t have adults at home to help them read, volunteers will step in; the district’s libraries will even offer audiobooks for certain students. Most importantly, the district’s administrators will reach out to parents to help them understand the importance of extracurricular reading.
Some parents wonder whether the program is a good idea.
Time will tell if the “no homework” policy works, but some science does seem to support the unorthodox approach.
Research from Brown University’s Educational Alliance program found that high performance in reading tests had an association with a “commitment to literacy and literacy improvement,” as well as “opportunities and ample time […] for students to read and discuss books in school.”
That study also showed that autonomy was a major factor. Students who chose their own books were more likely to spend time reading.
As for the homework itself, some recent research shows that it’s not especially helpful.
A 2006 meta-analysis from Duke University revealed that small amounts of homework benefitted academic performance, but author Harris Cooper noted in his conclusion that younger children shouldn’t be doing several hours of homework each night. Cooper ended his analysis by recommending further research.
“A little amount of homework may help elementary school students build study habits and learn skills developed through practice,” Cooper wrote in an op-ed for The New York Times. “…My feeling is that the effects of homework
“All children can benefit from homework but it is a very rare child who will benefit from hours and hours of homework,” Cooper continued.
“The fact is, too much homework not only crowds out time for other activities and increases stress on kids but there is no evidence that those last three hours of a
Maier says that she thoroughly researched her policy before implementing it. She specifically cited the work of reading acquisition Richard Allington.
“The quality of homework assigned is so poor that simply getting kids to read replacing homework with self-selected reading was a more powerful alternative,” Allington said in an email to The Chicago Tribune. “Maybe some kinds of homework might raise achievement but if so that type of homework is uncommon in U.S. schools.”