HOPEWELL VALLEY: Homework policy is adopted

In September, new policy will take effect

By John Tredrea, Special Writer
   Many parents of school-age children will tell you that a dominant issue of their family’s life is their child’s (or children’s) homework.
   Time in what is an undoubtedly busy schedule has to be budgeted for that homework.
   Under a new school district policy adopted by the Hopewell Valley Regional Board of Education Monday night, folks will know how much time they need to set aside for that homework.
   The new policy, which will go in effect in September, sets limits on the amount of homework students can be required to do at each grade level.
   The policy was based on the results of a district-wide survey and the input collected over two years 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 apply:
   — Kindergarten through Grade two — the only homework will 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 will 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 are: Grade six — 45 to 60 minutes; Grade seven — 60 to 70 minutes; Grade eight — 70 to 80 minutes.
   The new regulation was piloted at all grade levels at Timberlane Middle School this year, according to Principal Anthony Suozzo.
   At the high school level, the wide range of courses students take made it difficult to quantify how much homework each student will have. However, the general cumulative guidelines for core classes required for graduation are:
   — 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 may require homework outside the above guideline. The guidelines also say that new concepts can be introduced in homework, but that such homework should not be graded, except for completion, on these new concepts.
   The new regulation 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.
   Superintendent Thomas Smith said: “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.”
   The full homework regulation is available at: http://www2.hvrsd.org/News/Releases/2013HWDraftReg.aspx.