Local school districts focus on quality of homework over quantity

Many local school districts are weighing in on the homework debate, saying that it’s important to put quality over quantity – especially when it comes to elementary school students.

According to the National Education Association, while secondary students’ homework load has remained relatively the same, that of elementary students’ has gone up over the years, with no impact or even a negative effect on achievement.

“Research says…the yield of return on investment for the early elementary levels is not nearly what it is at the high school level, and we’re mindful of that,” said La Crosse Associate Superintendent Troy Harcey. “The homework that goes home needs to be of high interest for our youngest students.”

The National Parent Teacher Association recommends that students spend about ten minutes per grade level on homework a night, or about ten minutes for a first grader or fifty minutes for a fifth grader.

Harcey said while that’s a good ballpark, he’s more focused on what kind of homework the kids are getting.

“I think the trend in the last 10 years has been about more about the authenticity of the learning goal,” Harcey said. “The volume of homework can vary for a lot of reasons.”

Onalaska Director of Instructional Services Roger Fruit said it’s important to make sure the homework assigned to kids is actually helping.

“It shouldn’t be busy work. It should be something that extends learning in the classroom,” said Fruit.

The school districts agree that kids should be able to have lives outside the classroom.

“A student’s job all day is learning in the classroom. Young people need other things to do, too,” said Fruit.

“We’re sensitive of the fact that our young people have lives beyond 3, 3:30, 4 p.m,” said Harcey.

La Crosse recognizes students’ commitments outside of school and part of their policy states staff members should keep these extracurricular activities in mind when assigning homework.

“We’re trying to open doors to flourish in a lot of ways. We want students to be three-dimensional, not two-dimensional,” said Harcey. “School and school alone doesn’t create a well-rounded young person.”