Aside from having a new principal this school year, Kettle Run students also have a new homework policy.
This new policy includes numerous regulations that our former principal-turned-associate superintendent, Major Warner, advocated for this past summer. Warner questioned students’ well-being regarding excessive amounts of homework at the June 13 Fauquier County Public School Board meeting. His proposed plan clearly defines how much and what types of homework teachers are allowed to assign to students starting this school year.
The official policy includes four domains: Practice, inquiry or discussion, sustained reading or writing, and project completion. These separate groups relate exactly to the rules students have asked for in previous years as far as after-school work is concerned.
First, the “Practice” domain allows students to exercise skills learned in class without any new information being introduced in the assignment. This is helpful to those of us who do not like completing assignments that contain topics not covered in class. Plus, this section of the policy states that the number of tasks or problems students are asked to finish “should be limited to a reasonable number.” This is an added bonus for the countless students who have after-school obligations, such as jobs or sports, and struggle to find time to fully complete their work. Teachers might also like this domain due to the fact that students may be able to produce higher quality work.
Second, the “Inquiry or Discussion” domain gives teachers the opportunity to introduce new information to their students for conversation in the next class. This section of the policy benefits teachers because they can give students a head start on the next day’s work. However, it also benefits students because it limits teachers assignments to just one question or prompt for students to research or think about.
Third, the “Sustained Reading or Writing” domain enables teachers to assign a suggested 20 to 30 minute period of reading or writing so that students may improve their literacy skills. This is the perfect solution to work that seems unnecessary for those students who enjoy reading or writing but never get the chance to do so for a grade. Students will be able to better participate in class debates on topics covered in the given assignment.
Lastly, the “Project Completion” domain exists to aid those students with hectic after-school schedules. This section of the policy allows students to finish assignments related to projects they did not find time to finish prior to class. Seeing as there is a myriad of student-athletes who spend hours at a time after school every day at practices, meets or games, this new regulation makes sense. Finally, students with after-school occupations are getting a fair amount of time to complete their homework. This is something that students and parents alike have asked for in past school years, so it is nice to know that the school board takes these concerns into consideration.
Arguably the greatest part of the new policy for students is the fact that teachers are not allowed to assign homework on weekends. Who actually likes to do homework on the weekends when they could be hanging out with friends, spending time with family, or catching up on their favorite television shows? Finding time to complete homework during the school week is hard enough, but on weekends it can be nearly impossible to sit down and get to work. High school students have homework, afternoon jobs, sports, hobbies and social lives; this new homework policy truly allows for all students to have an equal opportunity to complete assignments in an organized and timely manner, furthering their educational experience as a whole.
In the Summer Newsletter, Superintendent David Jeck provided his explanation of what homework should be like in today’s educational system.
“It should mirror the best instructional practices that we expect in classrooms,” wrote Jeck. “It should be meaningful and relevant. It should be varied. We should provide feedback to students. It should not be used to punish students. It should be manageable in terms of the time it takes to complete.”
Students and parents agree with this statement and are appreciative that the school board and Jeck understand what students need.
In the release of the new plan Warner said, “This shift in mindset correlates strongly with our increased dialogue about equity and access in teaching and learning. This regulation encompasses both the value that we put in homework and the flexibility schools need to work with families to limit the impact when time and resources are a concern. We believe that homework should be relevant and authentic for students and should involve a variety of instructional strategies.”
This being stated, students can extend their thanks to Warner and the school board for their lightened homework load every day. It seems as though the great homework debate has finally come to an end. Students are happy about the changes and are grateful that they now have more time for important extracurricular activities.