Friday, September 30, 2016

New Instrumental Music Program Arrives at TRS

I am happy to announce that the newly expanded instrumental music and performing arts programs at Theodore Roosevelt School have officially launched.  These programs will be experienced by ALL students as regularly scheduled special classes.  Optional ensembles will also be available to students who choose to participate.









Thursday, September 29, 2016

WTSD's New Homework Policy

The validity of purposefully designed and thoughtfully assigned homework must be balanced against the pressure it can place on students and families.  Our focus in the Weehawken Township School District is improving student achievement, but it should not be obtained by undermining the health of our students and families.  To that end, I worked with the administrative team, teachers, parents, and the trustees of the Board of Education to develop our new homework policy.  Our policy was developed in consideration of the research on homework conducted by Cooper, Robinson & Patall (2006), Cooper (2007), Hattie (2009), Marzano & Pickering (2007), and Pressman et al. (2015).  Researchers found that the statistical effect size for homework increased as grade levels increased (Cooper, 2006; Hattie, 2009).  Researchers recommended that homework should be assigned with time limitations based upon grade level (Cooper, 2007; Marzano and Pickering, 2007).  These recommendations on limiting homework based on grade level were endorsed by the National PTA and National Education Association.  Researchers also found that excessive homework over the aforementioned time recommendations resulted in stress that had a negative impact on students and their families (Pressman et al., 2015).  


I am happy to report that Policy and Regulation 2330 were unanimously approved at our September Board of Education meeting.  WTSD Policy 2330 now states: “The Board of Education acknowledges the research-based educational validity of homework when it is assigned to pupils based on their academic grade level, ability, and individualized needs.  When assigning homework, teachers should take into account other activities, such as family time, that make a legitimate claim on the pupil's time.”  WTSD Regulation 2330, which governs the implementation of Policy 2330, stipulates the following:
  • Teachers should insist on high standards of quality in homework, however they must operate in consideration of students’ individual learning needs and home life.
  • Teachers are encouraged to utilize tools such as Google Classroom, Edlio, Google Sites and/or Google Calendar to communicate homework assignments to students and parents.
  • All homework must be evaluated by the teacher and the teacher's feedback must be communicated to the pupil.  Homework is not a valid learning activity if the pupil receives no acknowledgment of his/her work and no feedback.
  • Grades K-8: No homework shall be assigned over holidays and weekends.
  • Kindergarten and Grade 1: Reading and/or mathematics practice not to exceed 10 total minutes per night.
  • Grades 2: Reading and/or mathematics practice not to exceed 20 total minutes per night.
  • Grades 3: Reading and/or mathematics practice not to exceed 30 total minutes per night.
  • Grades 4, 5, and 6: Homework should require no more than 45 total minutes per night.
  • Grades 7 and 8:  Homework should require no more than 60 total minutes per night.
  • Grades 9-12: Homework should be based on the academic course level.  The due date of reading assignments, written assignments,  and assessments that require preparation and studying must be made available at least three days in advance to students.  Notification of long-term assignments and major projects must be provided to students at least a week in advance of the due date.


References


Cooper, H. (2007). The battle over homework (3rd ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin Press.
Cooper, H., Robinson, J. C., & Patall, E. A. (2006). Does homework improve academic
achievement? A synthesis of research, 1987–2003. Review of Educational Research, 76(1), 1–62.
Hattie, J. (2009). Visible learning: A synthesis of over 800 meta-analyses relating to achievement. London: Routledge.
Marzano, R. J., & Pickering, D. J. (2007, March). The Case For and Against Homework [Electronic
version]. Educational Leadership, 4(6).=
Pressman, R. M., Sugarman, D. B., Nemon, M. L., Desjarlais, J., Owens, H. A., & Schettini-Evans,
A. (2015). Homework and Family Stress: With Consideration of Parents’ Self Confidence, Educational Level, and Cultural Background. The American Journal of Family Therapy, 43(4). Retrieved from http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/01926187.2015.1061407
Research Spotlight on Homework: NEA Reviews of the Research on Best Practices in Education
(2015). In http://www.nea.org/tools/16938.htm. Retrieved August 1, 2016.