At all schools in the Davis Joint Unified School District (DJUSD) a new homework policy has been put into effect for the new school year. The Davis School Board adopted the new policy in June after school ended for summer.
Unlike the policy in previous years, the new homework policy limits homework per class, rather than homework per night. The homework committee made this change because “at the secondary level [homework hours per night] was not very effective since one teacher did not know how much work was being assigned by other teachers to the students,” said Steve Lege, a member of the homework committee and a Da Vinci Charter Academy teacher.
According to the committee’s “Final Report,” grades 9 -12 should have no more than 30 minutes of homework in English and math each night. In the other classes, with the exception of AP and honors courses, the limit per class is 20 minutes.
“[Weekend homework] was more of a concern for the elementary schools,” said Eleanor Neagley, a homework committee member and DHS English teacher. According to Neagley, elementary parents wanted weekends for family time, and homework was interfering with that objective.
Neagley said that homework cannot be assigned on Friday and be due Monday. Instead, if an assignment is assigned on Friday, it must be due on Tuesday.
The committee, made up of teachers, students and parents from many schools in the DJUSD worked on the homework policy for 14 months before the final report was released.
DHS principal Jacquelyn Moore said that when her daughter was in high school she barely saw her at all because [her daughter] was either at work, playing water polo, or doing homework.
Moore met with the different deparments at DHS on Aug. 24 to discuss the new policy.
The effect that heavy homework loads has on DHS students’ crowded schedules is evidenced at lunchtime. On a recent Tuesday, seven DHS students worked on their homework near the chemistry building. Four discussed a calculus problem as they ate, and then returned to their books. Many of these Blue Devils are student athletes who try to balance their schoolwork with their sports by using their lunch period effectively.
“Because of sports and other extracurriculars it is difficult [to keep up with homework], but for kids without, [the homework loads are] more reasonable,” said sophomore Claire Evans, a member of the J.V. women’s water polo team.
Jim Johnson, a math teacher at DHS, said he has always encouraged feedback from students if an assignment takes too long to complete. Johnson said that he tries to give students 10 to 15 minutes in class to start their homework, and that it should only take thirty more minutes to finish the assignment at home.
Evans thinks that the teachers need to discuss amongst themselves which days they should assign large homework loads to prevent large amounts of homework per night. “I think the teachers should collaborate. English and math should have certain days to assign homework so we aren’t overloaded,” Evans said.
According to Neagley, parents told the committee that homework is interfering with a healthy lifestyle. “There is a lot of stress on Davis students,” Neagley said.
In recent years there has been an increased amount of strokes in young adults nationwide due to too much stress, according to DHS counselor Courtenay Tessler. “Most parents are worried for the physical and emotional health of their children,” Tessler said.