Editorial: New policy strives to define homework expectations, falls short

Oracle Staff September 28, 2015 1
Editorial: New policy strives to define homework expectations, falls short
Yolani Alvarez '16 studies for her Advanced Computational Chemistry class in the Archer library. Taught by Science Department Chair Shane Berning, the course is for students who want an in-depth and rigorous study of Chemistry. Photographer: Isabelle Kantz '16.

The administration released a formal school-wide homework policy during advisory on Monday, Sept. 21. The policy clearly articulates homework expectations for both students and teachers. These expectations, however, do not always align with reality.

Homework at Archer is generally purposeful and meaningful. Most assignments follow the principles established in this policy. As stated in the document, homework is meant “to introduce material that will be explored in the next class, to practice and apply a skill learned in class, to process familiar ideas and information or to check for understanding.”

In this way, The Editorial Board feels that homework at Archer is generally more meaningful than homework at other schools. We think that most of the work we are assigned is, in fact, purposeful, and we greatly value the fact that the Archer administration puts time into devising a policy with students’ well-being in mind.  However, the policy does not always reflect homework in actuality.

“As a rough guideline, students should expect to spend no more than 10 minutes [times] the student’s grade level per night. For example, sixth grade students should aim to spend no more than 60 minutes per night, while seniors should plan to spend no more than two hours per night,” the policy’s “time guidelines for homework” states.

Students often have to choose between completing homework for a comprehensive understanding or just at a surface level. Teachers should continue to communicate their explicit expectations for time and effort put into each assignment.

The policy states, “If students enrolled in Honors and AP courses have appropriately managed their work, they should not spend more than 3 1/2 hours per night on homework.”

The expectation that students may spend this much time on homework after an already demanding seven hours of school borders on unreasonable, and the reality is that students often complete even more than 3 1/2 and a half hours each night. Maybe this is part of a bigger issue that we need to discuss.

Additionally, this amount of work is somewhat unrealistic for students with significant after-school commitments. We don’t come home, sit down and work for three hours. We have to eat dinner, go to a sports practice and hopefully spend time with our families. Asking students to complete 3 1/2 hours of work ignores the fact that students’ schedules include more than just school.

It’s a vicious cycle — we are expected to be committed leaders of the school, excel in our classes and get the recommended eight hours of sleep.

We understand that not all of the burden regarding this issue falls upon the teachers and administrators at Archer. Homework policies go both ways. Students need to take responsibility for their own productivity, but if they do so, they should be able to thrive both inside the classroom and out.

One Comment »

  1. Rachel Magnin September 28, 2015 at 8:56 PM -

    Incredibly well thought out and written. I hope the administration takes into account your very valid ideas.