“The students do seem to be less stressed based on conversations I’ve had with parents,” Carlomagno says.
It also helps that the students performed just as well on the state standardized test last year as they have in the past.
In August 2017, it rolled out an updated policy, which emphasized that homework should be “meaningful” and banned due dates that fell on the day after a weekend or a break.“The first year was a bit bumpy,” says Louann Carlomagno, the district’s superintendent.
She says the adjustment was at times hard for the teachers, some of whom had been doing their job in a similar fashion for a quarter of a century. Carlomagno says they took some time to “realize that it was okay not to have an hour of homework for a second grader—that was new.”Most of the way through year two, though, the policy appears to be working more smoothly.
Jack Schneider, an education professor at the University of Massachusetts at Lowell whose daughter attends school in Somerville, is generally pleased with the new policy.
But, he says, it’s part of a bigger, worrisome pattern.
They feel entitled enough to voice their opinions.”Schneider is all for revisiting taken-for-granted practices like homework, but thinks districts need to take care to be inclusive in that process.
“I hear approximately zero middle-class white parents talking about how homework done best in grades K through two actually strengthens the connection between home and school for young people and their families,” he says.
Because many of these parents already feel connected to their school community, this benefit of homework can seem redundant.
“They don’t need it,” Schneider says, “so they’re not advocating for it.”That doesn’t mean, necessarily, that homework is more vital in low-income districts.