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Center for American Progress

RELEASE: Unprecedented Study Finds Homework Is Too Focused on Rote Learning
Press Release

RELEASE: Unprecedented Study Finds Homework Is Too Focused on Rote Learning

Washington, D.C. — Today, the Center for American Progress released a new report that takes a first-of-its-kind look at homework assignment quality. Specifically, the study examines how homework assignments align with Common Core State Standards and whether they require students to demonstrate the full depth of knowledge required of the content standards. In reviewing a snapshot of homework samples collected using Amazon Mechanical Turk (MTurk), the authors of the report find:

  • Homework assignments are largely aligned to Common Core standards content.
  • Despite this content alignment, homework is fairly rote and focuses on basic skills such as procedural knowledge in math or memorization and recall in language arts. It generally does not require students to demonstrate deeper knowledge skills, such as the ability to analyze, conceptualize, or generate—as required by Common Core.
  • For many students, homework is not challenging enough. Nearly half of the parents who responded to the survey said that their child’s homework assignments were too easy.

The report also includes policy recommendations to help states, districts, and schools improve homework quality and opportunities for students to practice high-quality, rigorous coursework at home. These recommendations include:

  • Developing strategic homework policies that prioritize engaging, rigorous homework that follows the 10-minute rule—that is to say, no more than 10 minutes of homework multiplied by the student’s grade level
  • Conducting periodic audits to ensure that assignments are challenging and aligned to the Common Core standards
  • Providing access to technology and various supports to ensure that students can complete rigorous assignments at home
  • Making homework a focus of curriculum reform and instructional redesign efforts

“Improving the quality and rigor of homework is one of the easiest things states, districts, and teachers can do to support student achievement,” said Ulrich Boser, senior fellow at the Center for American Progress and co-author of the report. “This groundbreaking study shows that too many students are receiving assignments that do not challenge them and do not help them retain knowledge.”

“States, districts, and schools should develop policies that encourage teachers to assign engaging homework assignments that push students to think critically and apply concepts to real-world situations. Exemplary homework assignments in the sample demonstrate that increasing the rigor of homework doesn’t require students to devote hours to homework every night,” said Meg Benner, senior consultant at the Center and co-author of the report.

Please click here to read “Homework and Higher Standards: How Homework Stacks Up to the Common Core” by Ulrich Boser, Meg Benner, and John Smithson.

For more information or to speak with an expert, please contact Colin Seeberger at [email protected] or 202.741.6292.