It used to be that students were the only ones complaining about the practice of assigning homework. For years, teachers and parents thought that homework was a necessary tool when educating children. But studies about the effectiveness of homework have been conflicting and inconclusive, leading some adults to argue that homework should become a thing of the past. According to Duke professor Harris Cooper, it's important that students have homework. His meta-analysis of homework studies showed a correlation between completing homework and academic success, at least in older grades.
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Many critics voice similar concerns today. Yet there are many parents who feel that from early on, children need to do homework if they are to succeed in an increasingly competitive academic culture. School administrators and policy makers have also weighed in, proposing various policies on homework. If we step back from the heated debates about homework and look at how homework is used around the world, we find the highest homework loads are associated with countries that have lower incomes and higher social inequality.
It is also a question that has become divisive. Some people feel that homework is an effective way to reinforce the concepts that were learned at school. Others feel like the time that homework demands would be better spent with a meaningful activity that brings the family together. Is homework important?
Like her teacher in Pulaski, elementary-school teachers across the country are opting to encourage more reading and to create more family time, recognizing both have more value for young students and their families than does sweating over worksheets or solving math problems. Encouraging reading as opposed to assigning homework has been the norm at Sunnyside throughout the 11 years that Marc Klawiter has been the school's principal. There is no set policy on homework but the school follows best practices on the subject, he said. Reading promotes academic growth which is why so many educators ask families or students to read each night.