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Recent years have seen an increase in the amount of homework assigned to students in grades K–2, and critics point to research findings that, at the elementary-school level, homework does not appear to enhance children’s learning.Why, then, should we burden young children and their families with homework if there is no academic benefit to doing it?Indeed, perhaps it would be best, as some propose, to eliminate homework altogether, particularly in these early grades.
For students enrolled in demanding Advanced Placement or honors courses, however, homework is likely to require significantly more time, leading to concerns over students’ health and well-being.
Notwithstanding media reports of parents revolting against the practice of homework, the vast majority of parents say they are highly satisfied with their children’s homework loads.
While teachers at both levels note the value of homework for reinforcing classroom content, those in the earlier grades are more likely to assign homework mainly to foster skills such as responsibility, perseverance, and the ability to manage distractions. Might a focus on homework in a specific subject shed more light on the homework-achievement connection?
A recent meta-analysis did just this by examining the relationship between math/science homework and achievement.
The Homework-Achievement Connection A narrow focus on whether or not homework boosts grades and test scores in the short run thus ignores a broader purpose in education, the development of lifelong, confident learners.
Still, the question looms: homework enhance academic success?
Overall, high-school students relate that they spend less than one hour per day on homework, on average, and only 42 percent say they do it five days per week.
In one recent survey by the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), a minimal 13 percent of 17-year-olds said they had devoted more than two hours to homework the previous evening (see Figure 1).
While correlation does not imply causality, extensive research has established that at the middle- and high-school levels, homework completion is strongly and positively associated with high achievement.
Very few studies have reported a negative correlation.