Below are a few resources and quotes on the homework debate:
1) Parent Map's "Should we kill homework?"
"Should kids get to turn away from schoolwork when class time finishes? At Valley School, a private K-5 school in Seattle’s Madison Valley, the answer is yes. Barry Wright, formerly a fifth-grade teacher at Valley and now its director, says, “People don’t stop and think about the harm homework is doing. When you’re really in touch with kids, it seems apparent.” Valley teachers assign no homework until third grade, and even then Wright says it is “very light.” Minimal homework is a longstanding Valley policy. “We’re efficient during the [school] day — we’re good at it — and when kids go home we think they should just be kids,” Wright says. “Our mantra is that kids should leave our school loving school. Homework can kill that.”
Wright is troubled by the pressure homework exerts on parents, too. “When parents have to be teacher and [homework] enforcer, it puts a strain on the parent-child relationship,” he says. “Parents feel that if their kids don’t do their homework, they are bad parents.”"
2) Alfie Kohn's The homework myth: why our kids get too much of a bad thing
From the inside cover jacket: "Alfie Kohn systematically examines the usual defenses of homework --- that it promotes higher achivement, "reinforces" learning, and teaches study skills and responsibility. None of these assumptions, he shows, actually passes the test of research, logic or experience.
The available evidence indicates, for example, that homework provides absolutely no academic benefits for younger students. It also raises serious questions about whether homework is necessary for older students, and it challenges the belief that homework promotes independence and good work habits."
3) The current Seattle Public Schools homework policies (established in 1983)
Elementary School Homework
Middle School Homework
High School Homework
4) The introduction to Brita Butler-Wall's draft (below) for a revised Seattle Public Schools homework policy. She also sent me the draft policies for elementary, middles school, and high school, but they are too long to post here and, I believe, the most important parts are captured in her introduction.
SPS HOMEWORK POLICIES—DRAFT REVISIONS bbw Sept. 07
HOMEWORK C11.00 Adopted JUN 1983 Former Code(s): G61.00
It is the policy of the Seattle School Board that meaningful and purposeful homework is essential for all students at all grade levels, as part of their educational experience.
Definition: Homework is a learning task is intended to accomplish course goals outside the classroom without immediate teacher supervision.
Purposes: Homework may be assigned to awaken student interest in a topic, to prepare for class discussion, to develop study skills and time management, to deepen understanding of a topic, to achieve fluency and automaticity through practice, to apply knowledge and skills, to pursue individual interests, and/or to integrate knowledge across courses and disciplines.
Teachers: Teachers who assign homework are responsible for clarifying objectives, due dates, and instructions and for monitoring and giving prompt feedback on completed assignments. Teachers should coordinate with other building staff before assigning major projects, to avoid scheduling overload. Assigning homework as punishment or as busywork is not permitted. Teachers are discouraged from using homework to compensate for poorly-executed lessons or poor time-management.
Students: Students are responsible for completing all homework assignments and turning them in on time using the specified format, for negotiating for an extension of deadlines as needed, and for seeking help from classmates, teacher, and family members in accessing resources, as needed.
Parents: Parents and guardians are encouraged to develop a conducive environment for learning at home, to provide support for their student, to give feedback to the teacher, and to encourage the student to bring homework questions and concerns to the attention of the teacher. Parents and guardians are discouraged from giving direct assistance with homework since this skews the feedback for the teacher on the effectiveness of the instruction.
Amount: The amount of homework assigned will vary by developmental age of the student (maximum 10 min./day per grade total for all subjects), the topic, and the objectives. There is no maximum amount for high school students; however, it is expected that students will be able to balance homework with family and community responsibilities and opportunities to develop into well-rounded adults through out-of-school experiences with arts, sports, recreation, independent reading, and reflection. Homework assignments should help transition high school students into the rigors of higher education.
Consistent homework standards will be established within each individual building following procedures established by the district and best practices and will be communicated in writing to parents, guardians, and students.