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When Cooper and his associates looked at recent studies in which the time spent on homework was reported by students, and then compared them with studies in which that estimate was provided by their parents, the results were quite different.
These first two flaws combine to cast doubt on much of the existing data, according to a damning summary that appears in the Encyclopedia of Educational Research: Homework studies confuse grades and test scores with learning. Each is seriously flawed in its own way. In the second kind of study, course grades are used to determine whether homework made a difference. Any given assignment may well be given two different grades by two equally qualified teachers — and may even be given two different grades by a single teacher who reads it at two different times.
The final course grade, moreover, is based on a combination of these individual marks, along with other, even less well defined considerations. The same teacher who handed out the assignments then turns around and evaluates the students who completed them.
The final grade a teacher chooses for a student will often be based at least partly on whether, and to what extent, that student did the homework. Thus, to say that more homework is associated with better school performance as measured by grades is to provide no useful information about whether homework is intrinsically valuable.
Yet grades are the basis for a good number of the studies that are cited to defend that very conclusion. The studies that use grades as the outcome measure, not surprisingly, tend to show a much stronger effect for homework than studies that use standardized test scores. Cooper and his colleagues conducted a study in with both younger and older students from grades 2 through 12 , using both grades and standardized test scores to measure achievement.
They also looked at how much homework was assigned by the teacher as well as at how much time students spent on their homework. Thus, there were eight separate results to be reported. The last, and most common, way of measuring achievement is to use standardized test scores. They are, however, excellent indicators of two things. The first is affluence: Up to 90 percent of the difference in scores among schools, communities, or even states can be accounted for, statistically speaking, without knowing anything about what happened inside the classrooms.
The second phenomenon that standardized tests measure is how skillful a particular group of students is at taking standardized tests — and, increasingly, how much class time has been given over to preparing them to do just that. In my experience, teachers can almost always identify several students who do poorly on standardized tests even though, by more authentic and meaningful indicators, they are extremely talented thinkers.
These anecdotal reports have been corroborated by research that finds a statistically significant positive relationship between a shallow or superficial approach to learning, on the one hand, and high scores on various standardized tests, on the other. To that extent, students cannot really demonstrate what they know or what they can do with what they know. Multiple-choice tests are basically designed so that many kids who understand a given idea will be tricked into picking the wrong answer.
Instead, its primary purpose is to artificially spread out the scores in order to facilitate ranking students against each other. Moreover, the selection of questions for these tests is informed by this imperative to rank.
Thus, items that a lot of students answer correctly or incorrectly are typically eliminated — regardless of whether the content is important — and replaced with questions that about half the kids will get right. This is done in order to make it easier to compare students to one another. In the latter case, a high or rising average test score may actually be a reason to worry.
Every hour that teachers spend preparing kids to succeed on standardized tests, even if that investment pays off, is an hour not spent helping kids to become critical, curious, creative thinkers. The limitations of these tests are so numerous and so serious that studies showing an association between homework and higher scores are highly misleading. The fact that more meaningful outcomes are hard to quantify does not make test scores or grades any more valid, reliable, or useful as measures.
To use them anyway calls to mind the story of the man who looked for his lost keys near a streetlight one night not because that was where he dropped them but just because the light was better there. Even taken on its own terms, the research turns up some findings that must give pause to anyone who thinks homework is valuable. Homework matters less the longer you look. The longer the duration of a homework study, the less of an effect the homework is shown to have. The studies finding the greatest effect were those that captured less of what goes on in the real world by virtue of being so brief.
Even where they do exist, positive effects are often quite small. The same was true of a large-scale high school study from the s. There is no evidence of any academic benefit from homework in elementary school. The absence of evidence supporting the value of homework before high school is generally acknowledged by experts in the field — even those who are far less critical of the research literature and less troubled by the negative effects of homework than I am. But this remarkable fact is rarely communicated to the general public.
In , Cooper summarized the available research with a sentence that ought to be e-mailed to every parent, teacher, and administrator in the country: It, too, found minuscule correlations between the amount of homework done by sixth graders, on the one hand, and their grades and test scores, on the other.
For third graders, the correlations were negative: He was kind enough to offer the citations, and I managed to track them down. The point was to see whether children who did math homework would perform better on a quiz taken immediately afterward that covered exactly the same content as the homework. The third study tested 64 fifth graders on social studies facts. All three of these experiments found exactly what you would expect: The kids who had drilled on the material — a process that happened to take place at home — did better on their respective class tests.
The final study, a dissertation project, involved teaching a lesson contained in a language arts textbook. It seems safe to say that these latest four studies offer no reason to revise the earlier summary statement that no meaningful evidence exists of an academic advantage for children in elementary school who do homework. The correlation only spikes at or above grade A large correlation is necessary, in other words, but not sufficient.
Indeed, I believe it would be a mistake to conclude that homework is a meaningful contributor to learning even in high school. Since the questioning during high-stress is an autism trait, do we have any recourse for future incidences? My son is going into Middle school with an IEP. He also gets bus transportation. We are in NY. I am being told that if he participates in an after-school activity he is not entitled to bus service home.
This is why I have never been able to send him to an after school activity including homework help. My son is He has had issues with substance use disorder. He went through a difficult time where his substance use led to arrests. He cleaned himself up through therapy, substance use counseling and the diversion program. During this time, we removed him from school so he could focus on his sobriety.
Recently, he returned to school. They are fully aware of his disabilities and he is on a plan. We also shared his substance use issues. Since starting school, he has been suspended 3 times for ditching 2 days over a period of a month and for lying about the ditch.
Last week he was paraded out of the gym in full uniform and told that he was removed from the team due to his suspensions. Can they deny him playing sports?
I would like to know the outcome of this because my soon to be 17 year old has an ARD for an emotional disturbance and said a cuss word while frusturated in athletics to only be yelled by the head coach and told to go to the office and get a schedule change.
The details of how to participate in extracurriculars are kept secret. They have wheelchair basketball. My daughter has a and started middle school this year. Nothing was written on the board and no notices ever came home. She had no idea when to sign up for activities or where to go. By the time I would inquire it was always too late, as the clubs were already filled. The school most likely has a website where you can find the extra curricular activities. There may be away to sign up online or you could maybe contact the principle to see how to register her early for some clubs.
Write a letter to the principle also expressing your concerns and hopefully he will have a proper answer for you. If by chance things fall through again find some activities outside of the school to keep up her confidence and keep her interacting with other kids hers age. We just moved and met with the middle school our daughter will be transferring to.
Over the summer we were able to get a state scholarship sending our daughter to a private school with a program for learning disabilities that encourages participation in extracurriculars.
So, thankfully, we were able to avoid the issue. I wish I could help! Have you seen this? This would make a nondisabled student ineligible. I would love clarification as well. The school is required to follow the IEP. How did you find out that the IEP was not followed? What I would do is call for a meeting immediately and hope that the school fesses up to their wrongdoing.
If they do not you can request either a due process hearing or report the complaint to the state. I did call a meeting but the school failed to acknowledge their wrongdoing. Their solution was to suspend all academic goals so they could get more data we had an IEP for only academics not behavior.
I wrote a letter to our county board and hired an advocate who showed them their errors and many direct violations of IDEA over several years. Unfortunately this process took time and my child was unable to compete in sports that semester. He has an aide in school during the day.
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The UFT sponsors a homework help program for elementary and middle school students called Dial-A-Teacher. Classroom teachers answer homework questions at , Monday through Thursday, from 4 to 7 p.m. during the school year.
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