Rethinking Homework

"With homework, we are ahead of the curve."Nyack Superintendent Dr.

James Montesano talks during community forum discussing "Envisioning Racial Equity" at the Nyack Center on May 15, 2019, to address America's staggering numbers of segregated classes and schools.

"We are [so] anxious to prepare our children for this uncertain future...

and hello to "home learning."The new lingo signals the district's commitment to taking a fresh approach to after-school assignments.

So the district got serious about reconsidering one of education's bedrock, if least popular, traditions."We put together teams of teachers, administrators, parents, board members and students," Feliciano said.

"We did a lot of research, reading and examining what we were doing as a district."For all students, home learning assignments are to be given only Monday through Thursday and not at all during school breaks.The district's guidelines emphasize that teachers need to be clear to students about why they are assigning each piece of home learning.Felicello expects the plans to get the board of education's approval later this month.The two, photographed May 23, 2018, are now part of a team of students and faculty members created by the school district to examine how homework is assigned.When Felicello received a 150-signature petition from Niko and Christopher, he had already been hearing growing concern, including from some teachers, about the district's homework policy.One goal is for students to understand why they are carrying out a particular assignment when they could be playing video games on the couch.Home learning — a term that will require getting used to — will go into effect for the 2019-20 school year. Farley Middle School students Christopher De Leon, 11, and Nikolas "Niko" Keeley, 12, the new policies are surprising proof that student voices matter.But he was adamant that the change is needed."There is no research out there that supports positive student achievement at the elementary level in terms of homework," he said.After reviewing 20 years of research on homework effectiveness, Duke University professor Harris Cooper found a stronger correlation between homework and achievement in middle and high school, and that too much homework can be counterproductive at all levels.Meanwhile, Niko and Christopher, now sixth-graders, are convinced that homework's day is done.After surveying other students, Niko found out he wasn't alone in his thinking."A lot of kids had sports and when they got home they wouldn't be able to do it," he said.

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