New Homework Policy

Tejas Muthusamy

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Homework. That single word evokes feelings of dread and fear. Most Maggie Walker students have stayed up in the wee hours of the night doing homework, sacrificing sleep and a social life. Many complain that the homework given by teachers is not only excessive, but unnecessary. To remedy this problem, the administration has put in place a new homework policy. This policy emphasizes “quality rather than quantity,” stating that “homework assignments will be…meaningful.” Additionally, it provides homework time guidelines to make sure students are not overextended by eight classes. For any electives, honors, or plus course, a student should only have around 30 minutes per class meeting, or around one and a half hours a week. For Advanced Placement or Dual Enrollment classes, this number increases to 60 minutes per class meeting, or three hours per week.

While the homework policy looks good on paper, students have differing opinions on its implementation. Pamela Calderon (‘21) believes that the “quality over quantity” goal isn’t being met “because teachers assign a bunch of homework and expect it all to be done, and they don’t check how you do it, just if you finished, so they are checking the quantity not quality.” In agreement, Andrew Masak (‘20) notes that “although the policy states that homework should focus on quality over quantity, some teachers continue to assign busywork which contradicts this focus.” However, Catherine Qian (‘18) realizes that “Quality over quantity is inherently subjective,” saying that “Maggie Walker teachers know better than to assign tedious worksheets as routine homework, but that doesn’t mean it won’t always happen.”

The most discussed aspect of the homework policy is indubitably the time frame suggestions. Says Bella Stevens (‘21), “I feel as though the guidelines for the time laid out by the homework policy are fairly accurate but it entirely, in my opinion, depends on what teachers you have and the difficulties of what unit you’re currently on.” Stevens also highlights the inconsistency in homework that these time frames don’t account for, saying that “it can vary. Sometimes I have absolutely no homework and sometimes I have way more homework than the homework policy allows and it’s kind of crazy.” On the whole, however, teachers seem to be adapting to the suggestions of a time-frame. Qian notes, “I think some teachers who tend to give heavy workloads have been made more cognizant of how much they give.” She continues, “students are able to go to the teacher and point out that they aren’t following the homework guidelines.”

As far as improvements go, Will Larson (‘18) suggests “a more standard way to notify teachers and administration of cases where the homework policy is not being followed.” Richard Zhai (‘20) echoes this, saying that the homework policy “needs more enforcement.” Donovan Reynolds (‘18) argues for a new system entirely: one based on a “classic college take home work method.” He continues, “If we focused on long term assignments, the busywork would disappear and the quality of the work would remain.” Reynolds maintains that this is a superior system to homework, saying “I believe this helps a student learn time management with deadlines better than simple homework assignments every night.”

Has the homework policy been successful so far? Qian explains, “Since the homework policy is rather new, it’s hard to say definitively whether or not it has truly made an impact on student homework load.” However, on the whole, students seem to be in agreement that while the homework policy is a good start, improvements need to be made. The implementation seems to be the biggest problem, with many students agreeing that despite the efforts being made, teachers need to better follow the homework policy. Thankfully, there is only an upward trajectory for the success of the policy. In the near future, we can definitely expect the goals of the policy to come to fruition.

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