The SRVUSD homework policy is best for students

Lily Houlston, Staff Writer

During the 2015-2016 school year, a new homework policy was implemented, limiting the amount of homework students could be given on school nights, weekends and breaks. Weighted classes, however, were excepted from the policy and thus have no limitations regarding homework volume. Many AP and honors students felt the effect of this exception recently, when our teachers assigned us homework over spring break. And while I, along with most other AP and honors students, was not happy at the thought of spending my free time doing work, I believe that this system really is the best for all students. The new policy controls the amount of work that everyone receives, excluding those who knowingly signed up for difficult classes that require extra work. This is extremely beneficial for both students taking weighted classes and students who are not, because the teachers of weighted classes have the freedom they need to cover all the necessary information, while students in regular classes get the information they need without spending all their time doing homework.


This district revised the homework policy following extensive research. In a survey conducted by SRVUSD, students, teachers and parents were asked questions such as how much time students’ homework takes, when they are assigned work and what types of homework students are assigned. Not surprisingly, most of the polled teachers believed that the homework they assigned was reasonable and worthwhile. Despite talk among students, it seems teachers have no desire to give us busy-work. More surprising, however, were the results when students were asked similar questions. Most students said that they believed their homework is worth doing, that it helps them remember what they learned and that it is good practice. But the main concern was the extent of the work in regular classes. Among polled students, 36.5 percent said their homework takes them one to two hours of focused attention per night and 41.6 percent said that their homework takes over two hours a night. When an unweighted class of mine takes up that much time, I get frustrated. In signing up for that class, I didn’t agree to spending so much of my free time working. Most people, myself included, evidently believe that some homework is a necessary element in school, but it had begun taking excessive amounts of time to complete. This homework policy addresses that.


The revised policy states that a high school student in the district should not receive more than 30 minutes of homework per course per night, or two hours per course per week. Weekend homework for each course shouldn’t exceed 30 minutes, and no homework should be assigned during breaks such as Thanksgiving break, winter break and spring break. This excludes weighted classes, for which there is no homework policy in place. This is perhaps the most controversial aspect of the revision among students. Before my research and thought regarding the subject, I was unhappy with the fact that weighted classes were completely excluded. Yes, they’re supposed to take extra time, but shouldn’t there be something in place, for the sake of the students? At the end of my research, I came to a decision: no, there should not. In fact, for AP classes in particular, I think that it’s absolutely necessary that the teachers have the freedom to assign whatever they feel is needed due to the AP test alone.


World History and AP European History teacher Julie Lazar explained that students in AP classes have the AP test to worry about. Because of this, the teacher is responsible for covering everything that appears on the AP test, which is a very broad spectrum of information.


“It is a lot of content to cover and if students want to be successful on the standardized test, then they have to get the content. In our non-AP classes there isn’t any kind of standardized testing, so we can just cover what we know they need for the tests, so that can be a lot narrower,” said Lazar.


Most students can agree that the policy effectively limiting the amount of time a student spends on homework by not allowing any one class to give an overwhelming amount of work is a positive. However, many students are still spending over two hours per night on homework because of their weighted classes. It is unfortunate that so many people have to spend so much of their time that way, but the truth is that without that extra work, doing well in the class and on the AP exam would be far less likely. Such difficult classes require more time and thought to be put into them for the vast majority of people. They often move so quickly and cover so much that a student gets most of the information at home, through homework. Teachers of many AP classes and honors classes probably wouldn’t be able to cover their full course without being able to have their students do a good chunk of the work themselves. In short, there is limited class time in a year, and weighted classes generally cover too much for the teachers to be able to assign only two hours of homework per week.
Students who sign up for weighted classes know that they’re signing up for larger workloads, more difficult tests and less free time. We agree to put in that time and work to be successful in the class, because for most of us, that’s ultimately the goal. Even though the new homework policy didn’t implement any restrictions for weighted classes, I believe that that freedom from restrictions was the best thing for us as students.