School's out as districts weigh lightening homework loads

Fri May 27, 2011 3:39pm EDT
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By Ronda Kaysen

MONTCLAIR, New Jersey (Reuters) - School districts from coast to coast are weighing the elimination of homework on weekends and holidays, part of a move by educators to rein in student workloads.

Officials at public schools in Galloway Township, New Jersey, this week proposed no more homework on weekends and holidays for their 3,500 students, and the Pleasanton Unified School District in northern California suggested drastic changes to homework policy for the 14,500-student district.

The moves come in response to complaints from parents that children spend too many after-school hours buried in work, and concerns from teachers that test preparation trumps learning.

Some, like Grant Elementary School in Glenrock, Wyoming have eliminated homework altogether for primary school children. But others are just trying to lighten the load.

"Kids need to be given balance in their lives," said Jane Golden, Pleasanton's district director of curriculum and special projects.

Parents there said they were outraged that middle school students were spending four hours a night on homework in the high-performing Bay Area district.

Under the proposal, there would be no weekend or holiday homework for elementary students, while middle and high school students would get a reprieve on holidays and vacations.

The new policy in Pleasanton would set time limits on how much homework children can be assigned and require teachers to coordinate tests and projects so students do not get too many assignments at one time.   Continued...

<p>Students at the Lilla G. Frederick Pilot Middle School use their laptops during a class in Dorchester, Massachusetts June 20, 2008. REUTERS/Adam Hunger</p>