Learning More beyond the Classroom Educators Back Legislation for Homework Policies
Larson, Kristin, Daily Herald (Arlington Heights, IL)
Byline: Kristin Larson Daily Herald Staff Writer
Fifth-graders in Karen Todaro's class know that if they skip their homework assignment, they'll miss recess that day.
That rule is something Todaro made clear her first day of teaching at Seth Paine School in Lake Zurich.
"It's (homework) good for students," said Todaro, who's been teaching for one year. "It gives them responsibility, and in middle school and high school, that's going to be required of them."
Homework is a fact of life for students in grade school on up through high school and beyond.
What varies is how much.
House Speaker Michael Madigan will reintroduce a bill in the coming weeks that would force school districts that don't have a homework policy to initiate one.
Steve Brown, Madigan's press secretary, said the proposal would direct school districts to establish individual homework guidelines with the understanding that there'd be homework every day. Madigan is reintroducing the measure after an unsuccessful attempt to pass it last spring.
"Obviously, there would be changes from day to day and year to year, and obviously some schools would take different approaches to it," Brown said.
Also, economic and geographic factors might influence school district's individual policies, Brown said.
Recognizing the importance of homework, the Chicago Public School System adopted a systemwide homework policy for elementary and high school students in 1996. The policy suggests time allocations for assignments, starting with 15 minutes at the kindergarten level, to 45 minutes for grades four, five and six, to 150 minutes for 12th-graders.
While it's impossible to come up with a hard and fast rule for the amount of homework assigned, Chicago schools officials and several Lake County educators say it generally is 10 minutes multiplied by the grade level. Fifth-graders, for example, should expect 50 minutes of homework per night.
Some teachers say they may sometimes assign less work, or skip a night altogether, to allow slower students to catch up.
Regardless of how it's handled, Judy Giannamore, curriculum coordinator at the Mundelein elementary district, said there's no doubt homework is good for students and a necessary part of school.
"It gives kids a chance to practice and perfect skills," Giannamore said. "Of course, there's less homework at the primary level, and it could be something as basic as counting round objects in your house or coloring."
By definition, homework at the primary grades is often what students haven't finished in class. …