Massachusetts School District Bans Homework for a Year in Response to Poor Performance

Summer’s drawing to a close, which means many American families are preparing for a brand new school year.

While — for most students — this also means the return of those dreaded homework assignments, one New England school district is taking a very different approach.

Fox 12 reports that public schools in Holyoke, Massachusetts, have decided to do away with homework for the entire 2016 school year.

The decision comes as one of a number of changes instituted since 2015, when the district was classified as a “chronically under-performing” area.

Principal Jackie Glasheen — who came up with the idea — says that she knows that abolishing homework might seem “crazy” under such circumstances, but insists it’s all part of a bigger overall plan:

“As we started to add more both academic, social-emotional learning and enrichment into the school day, we built this awesome day for kids that’s running from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.

As we reflected upon all we were offering, it’s a pretty packed day, especially for our youngest learners.”

Along with several others in the area, Glasheen’s Kelly Elementary School has instituted what’s called the “fuller school day” model — adding two more hours to in-class education.

Because of this, doing away with homework “was a no-brainer,” she says:

“We really want our kids to go home at 4:00 tired. We want their brain to be tired.

We want them to enjoy their families, to go to soccer and football practice, and we want them to go to bed and that’s it.”

While Glasheen acknowledges that researchers are conflicted on the effects of a no-homework policy, she says that a majority of parents in her area are on board with the idea.

Marisa Ventrice, a third-grade teacher and mother, admits that she was not in love with the idea at first:

“My principal mentioned it and I think she expected me to say yes and I wasn’t right away because it’s such a huge part of our routine…I do like the responsibility it teaches kids of bringing homework back to school.

So I’ve had to think about it for a while, but the pros definitely outweigh the cons.”

Though teachers will still assign things like book reports and presentations, students will be given time during the school day to complete them.

Glasheen adds that, for parents concerned about being involved in their children’s performance, additional resources and assistance will always be available.

Though the policy is intended for the upcoming school year only, officials say they’ll evaluate standardized test performances in 2017 to determine just how students are affected by a school without homework.

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