Nicholson Baker, the author of Substitute: Going to School With a Thousand Kids
No mandatory homework in elementary school. None. No homework in middle school and high school unless a kid wants to do it. Chronic nightly homework makes for guilt, resentment, and lies—and family arguments and bone weariness. Parents become enforcers. It gets ugly.
Carol Burris, the executive director of the Network for Public Education
When I was a high-school Spanish teacher, I never graded homework. If students came in with homework, I knew one of two things—either they did it, or they had a good friend who did it. I assigned a reasonable amount, never spent more than five minutes of class time reviewing it, and would collect samples as an informal assessment of whether my students understood the prior day’s lesson.
There is really no reason to assign homework in the early grades, although I know it makes parents anxious when their kids come home without it. Middle-school students will not receive more than an hour of homework, and in high schools, no more than two hours a night will be assigned.
Homework in high school helps students reflect on new learning and it gives them feedback as to whether they understand what they were taught. It also develops good habits for college, especially writing and independent-reading skills.
The research on homework shows beneficial effects on learning when appropriate assignments are given and completed, and the benefits increase with grade level. There is little to no learning benefit in the early grades but substantial benefit by grade 12.
Catherine Cushinberry, the executive director of Parents for Public Schools
Homework provides an opportunity for families to be engaged in the learning process, reinforces what has been taught during the school day, and provides students with an opportunity to learn how to be accountable and responsible to others and meet deadlines. Homework will not be graded, but will provide the class an opportunity to work together either as a large or small group to promote peer-to-peer learning while analyzing the assignment. Incentives that are student-specific will be used to encourage preparedness. If a student has mastered a topic, then he or she will be given an assignment that challenges them toward the next level of that work. The structure of homework will depend on the topic. Some assignments might require students to report on real-world observations, try at-home experiments, or allow them to develop ways that will each student best learn the information.
Michael Horn, the co-founder of the Clayton Christensen Institute
Students will have work that may be done in school or at home. We will cease seeing things as just “homework.” The goal of work is to help students build mastery of knowledge and skills that can be applied in different contexts. Students will do as much or as little of certain tasks until they have built mastery. For some students, that will take place at home. Others will do most of their work surrounded by their peers and teachers at school. We will move beyond the notion of letter grades, where we accept failure as part of the system, to a competency-based notion in which students either master a competency or keep working until they do.