HOPEWELL VALLEY: Homework is topic Monday

Proposed requirements for each grade level

By John Tredrea, Special Writer
   A proposed school district policy that would set limits on the amount of homework students could be required to do at each grade level is expected to be voted on by the Hopewell Valley Regional Board of Education on Monday (June 17) night.
   The session begins at 7:30 p.m. in the board meeting room, 425 S. Main St., Pennington.
   The measure was first read and reviewed by the school board at its May meeting.
   The new policy, which would go into effect in September if adopted by the board, is based on the results of a district-wide survey and the input collected over a two-year period from a panel of more than 40 parents, students and staff, school district spokeswoman Alicia Waltman said.
   Under the proposed policy at the elementary level, the following regulations would apply:
   — Kindergarten through grade two — The only homework would be a daily reading and/or a math link (worksheet.) — Grade three — Not more than 30 minutes total, per day, of on-task working time.
   — Grades four-five — 30 to 45 minutes per day.
   In elementary school, homework would not be assigned on weekends or over winter or spring breaks, except for make-up work.
   At the middle school level, homework guidelines per night would be:
   — Grade six — 45 to 60 minutes.
   — Grade seven — 60 to 70 minutes.
   — Grade 8 — 70 to 80 minutes.
   The new proposed regulation was piloted at all grade levels at Timberlane Middle School this year, according to Principal Anthony Suozzo.
   ”Overall, it provided a good framework for consistency among the grade levels, and overall the staff is happy with it,” said Mr. Suozzo, who has spoken to students and parents about the regulation as well.
   ”Based on the feedback we’ve gotten, the guidelines are reasonable for this particular age group.” Mr. Suozzo said he had not gotten any negative reactions.
   At the high school level, the wide range of courses students take made it difficult to quantify how much homework each student would have. However, the general cumulative guidelines for core classes required for graduation would be:
   — Students in classes that fulfill graduation requirements — 120 minutes/week.
   — Students in honors classes — 180 minutes per week.
   — Students in Advanced Placement classes — 240 minutes per week.
   Elective classes might require homework outside the above guideline. The guidelines also say that new concepts could be introduced in homework, but that such homework should not be graded, except for completion, on these new concepts.
   The new proposal also includes suggestions for the type of work that should be given for homework, as well guidance for students and parents. It also encourages teachers to electronically post, or provide hard copies for those who do not have access to the Internet, a weekly outline of homework assignments.
   ”I’m very proud of the (regulation) we worked to create because it encompasses the opinions and needs of many different groups in our community,” said senior Megan Hill, one of the student members of the homework committee.
   ”Of course, it will need revision and attention in the future, but I think our taking a stand on the issue of homework is an important first step in ensuring the health and happiness of the Hopewell Valley community.”
   ”Hours of hard work were put into finally defining and setting guidelines in relation to homework,” said student committee member, Will Cleveland, a senior. “I am especially happy that teachers, parents, administrators, and students were able to work together and reach a consensus.”
   ”Since my arrival in Hopewell Valley, homework has been the subject of a recurring discussion among students, teachers and parents, and both our board and administration wanted to address it. This has been a long process with many stakeholders’ input, and has been well worth it. The writing of this regulation is a big first step, but the journey will continue, and we’ll be looking for feedback on its implementation,” said Superintendent Thomas Smith.
   The full homework regulation is available at: