District Administration April 2018 - 34

HOMEWORK
OVERHAUL
negative impacts," says Vatterott, who
is preparing an updated edition of her
book. "Schools are saying kids are more
engaged, more curious, and that they
have more time to think about learning
and to enjoy learning."
Work that can only be done at home
One force behind the shift is the age-old
question about who's actually doing the
homework, particularly when it involves
younger students.
"We tried to be honest about how
much homework is legitimately done by
students versus their parents," says Matt
Townsley, the director of instruction and
technology at Solon Community School
District in Iowa. "How much of doing
homework is just the parent sitting there
finding the right answer?"
At the same time, some parents still
consider homework an essential part of
learning. That's why, starting in the 201718 school year, Solon's elementary school
teachers now give homework suggestions
instead of requirements. The recommendations are based on each student's learning needs, Townsley says.
This philosophy, which includes
encouraging all elementary school students to read every night, was a natural
outcome of the district's shift in 2012 to
standards-based grading.
"We have no weekly homework expectations," Townsley says. "Students
may be asked to do something like interview their parents-something that can

AFTER-SCHOOL ENTHUSIASM-At the Design39Campus, part of Poway USD in
Southern California, students can design their own homework projects based on
their interests.

be done only at home. We're not asking
them to just practice more of what they're
doing during the day."
At Solon High School, homework
no longer counts toward a student's final
grade. The district didn't want students to
be able to pad their grades simply by consistently turning assignments in on time
or completing extra credit, Townsley says.
When parents demand more homework, teachers will provide resources,
such as websites where students can

"Who owns that time after school?
Parents may say, 'You already have eight hours
of my child every day. Do you have a
right to claim the others?' "
- Ginna Guiang-Myers, Eureka USD (Calif.)

34 April 2018

practice specific skills. "We believe that a
student's grade should be based on what
they learned, not a combination of how
much they've learned and how much
they've done," he says.
Beyond the test scores
There are two key reasons that Beechwood Independent Schools, a highperforming district in Kentucky, left
homework out of a new series of grade
5 through 8 seminar courses designed
to develop students' creativity, critical
thinking and other workforce skills, says
Superintendent Mike S. Stacy.
"One hundred percent of the work
happens during the school day because
it's a collaboration between students,"
Stacy says. "Plus, we want to see their
thought processes at work. We want to
have it happen in front of our eyes where
we can guide the kids as opposed to just
sending work home where we have no
idea who's doing it."
District Administration



Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of District Administration April 2018

District Administration April 2018 - Cover1
District Administration April 2018 - Cover2
District Administration April 2018 - 1
District Administration April 2018 - 2
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District Administration April 2018 - 5
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