West Chester Homework Committee

Dear Staff, Students, and Parents:

A committee of nearly 100 parents and staff members has been working over the last four months to address the issue of homework in the West Chester Area School District. We are very aware of the impact the amount of homework our students receive can have on them and their families, and we wanted to work to address the need for balance in our students’ lives, while not comprising student achievement.

After months of study, the committee has developed a new homework policy that provides parameters and guidelines specialized to elementary, middle and high school levels. These include the goals of homework, a requirement for consistent communication from teachers about homework, and limits on homework due dates.

Surveys of parents and focus groups with students revealed many mixed opinions about homework: Some feel there’s too much, some say not enough, others say it’s misdirected, others say it’s helpful. Most agreed that homework varies widely from teacher to teacher, and that too much homework can be very stressful for students who already have a busy extra-curricular schedule. And, many high school students and parents feel extra-curriculars are very important and don’t want to give them up since colleges often seek students who are involved in activities.

Our committee set out to study the research on homework and to find ways to provide guidance in a policy so that homework is meaningful, thoroughly communicated, and given in moderation. Some of our committee members were surprised to learn that research is very mixed on how much homework does or does not contributes to academic success.

We met with teachers at each of our 18 schools and discussed what we’d developed with them and made adjustments based on their feedback.

Some committee members expected us to set strict time limits on homework, but we’ve found the many variables involved make it too difficult to do so; That is, what’s a half an hour of homework for one child could easily turn into an hour and a half for another who isn’t focused and who dawdles.

With this new policy, we are setting a new expectation in communication from parents, as well. If a parent feels their child is struggling and they’re having a hard time getting him/her to accomplish their homework in what seems like a reasonable amount of time, we are asking parents to contact their child’s teacher and/or guidance counselor. We are working with our teachers on this new expectation and hope that this will help alleviate some concerns. We really want to teach our students how to manage their time and how to organize their work, as we know these executive function skills are critical in both college and in life.

Our School Board will give final approval to the policy on May 24. You can find the policy, research used in its development, and notes from our meetings on our website at: http://home.wcasd.net/pages/West_Chester_Area_SD/ForParents/Homework_Committee_2017

If you have any questions or comments, please contact homeworkfeedback@wcasd.net.

We appreciate your support and look forward to this change that we hope will benefit our students, staff, and families.

Sincerely,

Dr. Jim Scanlon, Superintendent

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