Mammoth Elementary School does away with “traditional” homework, and it’s not alone
Most Mammoth Elementary School students came home with big news for their parents at the beginning of this school year: No more homework.
At least, no more homework in the traditional sense of the word. “We’ve just changed what homework looks like,” said MES Principal Rosanne Lampariello. There is a growing movement among elementary school teachers (MES has kept traditional homework for 5th graders, but eliminated it for the younger students) to do away with the big packets of exercises sent home with children.
“I’ve read a bunch of research,” said Lampariello, who is currently in a Doctoral Program for Organizational Change and Leadership at the University of Southern California. “None of it really shows that there’s any educational benefit for elementary-level kids.” Research on middle-and-high school students is another story, but “as far as elementary school, it’s pretty clear that there is questionable benefit.”
A note from Brandy Young, a second-grade teacher at a Fort Worth, Texas elementary school went viral last month when Young told parents she would not be formally assigning homework for the 2016-17 school year. “Research has been unable to prove that homework improves student performance,” wrote Young. “I ask that you spend your evenings doing things that are proven to correlate with student success. Eat dinner as a family, read together, play outside, and get your child to bed early.”
“It is a movement,” said Erika Miranda, a 5th and 6th grade teacher at Sierra Foothill Charter School in Catheys Valley, who also instituted a revised homework policy this school year. Students who have parental help with homework have an advantage over students who don’t. “Basically half the parents help with homework, half the parents don’t,” she said. “Half the parents like it, half the parents hate it.”
Miranda has decided to only assign work that students didn’t finish during class to take home, and has provided parents with online resources.
“I may as well just do a better job managing my time in the classroom with them so that they don’t have to take this work home,” she said. She said she will reassess her policy at the end of the first trimester, but she hopes this might level the playing field for students whose parents aren’t as able or willing to help their kids as others.
“The parents that are involved are involved all the way through … so for me to send home work for kids that are already struggling because they don’t have that parent support, it’s going to set them further behind. And the parents that are going to sit down and work with them, I can give them really amazing online resources that will help supplement what they’re learning in class.”