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Homework

As the Board of Education continues to focus on the health and wellness of our students and staff, they have made changes to our policy and regulation governing homework.

For these changes to have the maximum positive benefit for students, all stakeholders need to be clear on what the changes are and why they were made.

The 2019-2020 school year is one of conversation and exploration as we work under these changes. We need families and students to:

  1. understand the philosophy that underlies the changes;
  2. understand the specific changes and work within them;
  3. communicate with teachers when concerns and questions arise; and
  4. provide feedback throughout the year.

Policy 2330 (Homework) establishes the philosophy the district uses to approach homework. It makes clear that homework is valued as a tool to support student learning. To this end, homework should:

  • be directly connected to the skills and knowledge within a specific curriculum.
  • be designed based on the needs of individual students.
  • take into account “the needs of (individual) students and… other activities that make a legitimate claim on a student’s time.”
  • result in meaningful feedback that fosters growth.
  • include responsibilities for students and their families.
  • be designed to teach students the importance of preparation, not compliance, and support our students in developing the decision-making and preparation skills needed to be successful.

To achieve this, we are asking students and their families to evaluate the daily impact of homework and communicate with teachers when homework is having a negative impact on the student or the family unit. Regulation 2230 (Homework) provides direction to help when making these decisions and leading these communications. These include:

  • Definition of Homework
    • Studying is to be considered homework. As such, no extra assignments should be due on a day when a graded assessment is to be given in that class. This does not prevent teachers from giving assignments designed specifically to prepare students for an assessment.
  • Breaks - It is expected that:
    • no student (or staff member) be required to work over a break of four days or longer.
    • homework given on a break less than four days should be planned to be no longer than what the student would receive for one school day.
    • no graded work should be due the day immediately following any scheduled break.
    • long-term assignments are encouraged as appropriate, but the timeline for these must take these guidelines into account.
    • teachers should assign homework with consideration for religious observance (as no student should be required to forgo observation for homework). This should include reasonable, flexible timelines that allow students to complete work without impact to these days. This also requires that students and their families communicate to teachers when such occasions will impact work so that we are working together and required work is completed and assessed fairly.
  • Length
    • The Board has set guidelines for the maximum amount of time a student should be spending on homework. These differ by grade, so please refer to the table on page two of the regulation.
    • The purpose of this is to allow for communication regarding the impact of homework for individual students. It is understood that no two students will have the same experience with homework, so these maximums should be used:
      • by teachers to assess the appropriateness of an assignment as created.
      • by students to assess how they are preparing outside of the classroom.
      • by parents to assess how their student is handling the requirements of our program.
      • by parents to foster conversation when students are regularly working beyond these maximums.
    • When it is found that these maximums are not working for a student, there should be a conversation around:
      • the design/amount of the work.
      • the approach of the student.
      • the overall time management of the student/family.
    • These maximums should not:
      • be used as hard caps on their own.
      • be used to “punish” staff or students.
      • interfere with student/family decisions to work beyond the times as they are set.
  • Communication
    • Important: “All homework shall be posted on the website no later than 30 minutes after the end of school on the day assigned.”
    • Teachers can choose to make this “posting” anywhere as long as it is accessible to students (and families as appropriate) and that the location has been made clear at the beginning of the year. This includes the OnCourse published pages and Google Classroom. It does not have to be in more than one place. Teachers can decide based on what is easier for them as long as this choice is communicated clearly.
    • 2019-2020 - This is meant to be a year of communication. Students and parents are responsible for reaching out to staff when they have questions or concerns; but, we are also asking that staff provide ongoing feedback as we move through the year. This begins with conversations with supervisors and building administrators but will also include short, monthly surveys.

Please note that while some of these are changes, much if not most of these ideas already existed in our policy and regulation.

Takeaways:

  • As educators, we need to constantly assess the impact of our instructional decisions on the health and wellness of our students.
  • In BRRSD, our staff has continued to find ways to teach our students to ensure their growth.
  • Homework should focus on teaching students how to prepare successfully and connect directly to the curriculum.
  • Assignments must be connected to the content within a curriculum; beyond that, neither the policy nor the regulation has any new or additional impact on a teacher’s grading procedures.
  • There are defined breaks where there should be no expectation of homework.
  • There are maximum time limits set by grade level that staff should use to assess what is reasonable when designing assignments and setting schedules.
  • Communication is key, with responsibility resting not just on staff, but on students and families as well.
  • Assignments need to be published within 30 minutes of the close of school on the day assigned.

Surveys

Surveys are out. As a member of the BRRSD community, you should receive an email with a link to the appropriate survey (Student, Staff, Family).

Please make sure you share your feedback.