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Principal's Message

 During the school year, it can be tough for families to find enough time. Between homework, school, and sports, sometimes it feels like there isn’t enough time for kids to just be kids. Helen M. Knight Elementary School is hoping to help make that balancing act a little bit easier. Beginning next year, teachers at HMK will no longer assign a grade for homework.

“We are doing this because the idea is solidly backed by current research and because it is good for kids to have whole lives,” HMK Principal Taryn Kay said. “They spend 7-9 hours in school per day and they need some time to be kids.  I am interested in them having time to creatively play, spend quality time with family members, learn an instrument, learn a sport, learn a hobby, be active outside, eat dinner with their families, talk to their family members, participate in their community and so on… It is important to build whole people. ”

Kay also added that not every child has a parent at home who is able to help them with their homework. When they receive bad grades for not being able to finish that homework, it can negatively impact their education experience. “If they don’t understand it before they take it home, and there’s no one there to work with them, how are they supposed to learn it?” she said.

Several major studies have recently found that elementary age students do not benefit from homework, and that many schools are assigning too much homework to students. While some people may be concerned that not requiring homework may lead to a drop in test scores, Kay said she doesn’t believe that will happen. “I do believe that the biggest majority of parents want their students to succeed and do well in school and will work to support them in that aim,” she said.

While many teachers will still choose to send home optional work including vocabulary and spelling words, current math concepts, and other important information, it will be up to the parents and the student to decide how much of the work they do. Teachers won’t be assigning grades based on that work, but some will likely find other ways to incentivize the work, such as offering extra credit. “We do want parents to be highly involved in the education of their children,” Kay said.

Reading will be one exception to the policy. “Asking students to read at home (or be read to at home) every night is important and required for every student, every school night,” Kay said, adding that the amount of time they are expected to read will be determined by the teachers in each grade level.

The rule also won’t apply to unfinished schoolwork. Kay said that if a student fails to finish an in class assignment, that work can be sent home, as long as it’s work that the student is able to finish independently, and it can be accomplished in a reasonable amount of time. Students will also still be expected to complete work that they missed due to absences. “Nothing has changed in this area,” she said.

Anyone interested in the research backing this decision can find more information here:

Challenge Success, (2012). Retrieved from www.challengesuccess.org 

Edvantia, (2007). What Research Says About The Value of Homework: Research Review. The Center for Public Education. February, 1-9. Retrieved from www.centerforpubliceducation.org

Hattie, J., (2014). Visible Learning. Retrieved from: https://visible-learning.org/2014/09/john-hattie-interview-bbc-radio-4/

Kohn, A., (2006). The Truth About Homework. Needless Assignments Persist Because of Widespread Misconceptions About Learning. Education Week, September, 1-4. 

MacDonald PhD, B., (2009). Is Homework helpful? The Family Anatomy, September, 1-3.

Strauss, V., (2016). An Experiment in Second Grade: No Homework. Then, see if test scores drop. The Washington Post. September, No pages given.