LCUSD Elementary Homework Committee2017-18
By PCY Principal, Dr. Debra Cradduck
Which one of these represents homework in your household?
Everyone has an opinion about homework, and the word “homework” brings about a variety of perspectives and emotions for families. For some, what the teacher gives is never enough to challenge their child. For others, parents are trying to help their child not feel buried by the unending load. And of course, there is the range in between.
In my eight years with LCUSD and as principal of PCY, I have observed teachers striving their best to assign homework that accomplishes the following: 1) to practice or extend what the students are currently learning in class, 2) to engage at a level that a “typical” student would be able to complete with little to no adult guidance, 3) to promote students’ thinking, and 4) to offer some traditional skills practice. But with all of this well-intentioned planning and consideration on the part of the teachers, I don’t think I’ve ever heard from a parent that homework is “just right.” I’m not sure if we can ever expect homework to meet the needs of every single student in every, single class perfectly, but we can look at what types of homework is being given and if it is engaging our students in meaningful ways.
A unique, research-based program from Stanford University program, Challenge Success, can help us with the homework conversation. Challenge Success is specifically designed to help high performing districts support students as they balance a multitude of commitments (academic and non-academic) while going through elementary, junior and senior high school. La Canada 7-12 began the Challenge Success program last year and uncovered some concerning trends that had elementary level implications - one of which was the amount of time LCUSD students are reporting to spend on homework.
The Elementary Homework Committee was formed to look at current education research around homework best practices, analyze examples of what is being assigned in LCUSD classrooms, read through the existing Board Policies, and develop a recommendation to put forth to the Governing Board by the end of the year. Throughout the year, the committee will look at shifting from a “quantity” focus to one which emphasizes achievement as the foundation for homework, targeting quality and engagement for students. It is comprised of the elementary school principals, teacher representatives from each of the schools, and district leadership. The committee members are open, reflective, and have a genuine interest in doing what is best for students of La Canada. In the spring, the Homework Committee will make recommendations for any changes to LCUSD policies and practices to the Governing Board.
In concert with the committee’s work, Superintendent Sinnette will extend an invitation to parents in December to take part in the homework conversation via a literature circle group. We are anticipating one elementary group and one secondary group that will meet after the winter holiday. Participating parents will read and discuss literature/research disseminated prior to the meetings and share out their own experiences related to homework in LCUSD. If you are interested in participating in the literature circle, please look for information coming from Superintendent Sinnette in December.