LAUSD leader suspends new homework policy
Los Angeles schools Supt. John Deasy suspends a new homework policy, saying that it did not receive enough public input and that it will be reworked.
By Howard Blume, Los Angeles Times | http://lat.ms/oVzviS
Los Angeles Unified School District Supt. John Deasy, photographed last year, on Wednesday suspended a new homework policy. The policy limited homework's weight to 10% of a student's grade. (Irfan Khan, Los Angeles Times)
July 21, 2011 - The superintendent of the Los Angeles Unified School District suspended a new homework policy on Wednesday, saying it went into effect without enough public input.
The policy limited homework to 10% of a student's grade; the rest would have been based on such measures as class assignments, tests and essays.
The homework rules, which did not have to be approved by the Board of Education, went into effect July 1 by administrative order. The Los Angeles Times wrote about the policy June 27, the first public discussion about it. The policy drew nationwide attention and swift reaction: from praise to denunciation to confusion.
"While well-intentioned, I am not confident that the initial policy received sufficient comments and general input from parents, teachers and board members," L.A. schools Supt. John Deasy said in a release.
"We cannot and will not implement a policy of this magnitude without actively soliciting and incorporating recommendations from our constituencies," he said.
The 10% cap was developed by Chief Academic Officer Judy Elliott under then-Supt. Ramon C. Cortines, who retired in April.
In an interview earlier this month, Elliott said the homework policy was developed over 18 months with input from her staff, a review of research and a task force that examined a broad range of district issues. The task force included parents, teachers and administrators, she said. And its members reached consensus on the importance of developing a homework policy. School board members received an update in writing on its progress in February, she said.
Elliott had said additional input would be included during further development of the three-page directive, which contains few specifics other than the 10% rule.
The goal was to ensure that students' grades were based on their knowledge of the subject matter rather than completed homework. Officials said they were troubled by discovering, for example, that students with strong test scores were failing classes.
It also was aimed at helping students who have family commitments or impediments, such as jobs that keep them from completing homework assignments. District officials also wanted to account for situations in which parents are unable to help students at home.
Homework has been a topic of contention nationwide, with many parents asserting that their children were overwhelmed, leaving little time for family and other activities.
Deasy decided that L.A. needed to slow down on its policy.
"The superintendent did the right thing," said board member Tamar Galatzan. "Policy changes like this not only need to be brought to the board first, but they need proper input from teachers, parents and students."
Board member Steve Zimmer said he "looked forward to discussing the revised homework policy and voting on it instead of finding out about it by reading the newspaper."
Some other cities have developed homework policies through a public process. In Davis, Calif., for example, officials established a public homework committee that met over a year's span. The committee's website included published meeting agendas and minutes, a 144-page report, relevant board policies and administrative regulations.
Deasy said the Los Angeles policy would be revised under the leadership of Jaime Aquino, the newly hired deputy superintendent of instruction, "in close consultation with parents, teachers, administrators, and board members."
The goal is to develop a draft policy by January, with a later vote by the Board of Education that would put the policy in effect for the 2012-13 school year.
LAUSD reverses homework-factor grade policy
Robert Holguin | KABC7 News | http://bit.ly/qKVrSs
Wednesday, July 20, 2011 - LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- The L.A. Unified School District reversed its controversial new homework policy. District leaders are changing their minds.
Los Angeles Unified School District officials previously said that they were trying to create a uniform policy across all schools when it comes to homework.
Some parents and teachers were upset when the policy was announced last month. They didn't want the district issuing a blanket policy. And just a few weeks later the district has backed down.
It was a bold and controversial move at the district level: homework at all LAUSD schools would only account for 10 percent of a student's overall grade. But that policy only lasted less than a month.
"I think what it was lacking was an opportunity to have parents, teachers and students provide some guidance on what they would like to see in a revised homework policy," said Jaime Aquino, the deputy superintendent of instruction with the LAUSD.
Aquino says implementation of the policy was probably premature.
"We heard from both parents, teachers, and I would have to say also some administrators that they wanted to make sure that they had been included in what was the rationale for the change," said Aquino.
As it stands, teachers are the ones who decide how much homework will factor into a student's final grade. The suspended policy would have created a district-wide policy limiting that amount to 10 percent.
Some students say homework should count for more than 10 percent.
"I think homework should really be up to the teacher, right?" said one student at Huntington Park High School.
"If you do your homework, you do your class work, you pay attention, it's not only going to help you get your grade up but it also helps you on tests because that what tests are basically about, preparing you," said another student at Huntington Park High School.
District officials say that they still want to come up with a uniform policy that will apply to all schools district-wide but they're first going to have several meetings with administrators, parents and teachers, and they hope to present a new plan to the board some time next spring.
Previous Homework Policy
from various LAUSD web sources
from parent handbooks:
I. Class work, homework, and other assignments that are taken into consideration for the progress report mark are to be graded, recorded, and returned to students within a reasonable time. The criteria for determining “reasonable time” might include students receiving an evaluation of their work allowing enough time to prepare for assessments and prior to issuing an academic mark.
J. Meaningful homework is an extension of the class work and is aligned to the standards for the course. Homework emphasizes quality rather than quantity and should be reflected in the progress report mark.
K. Marking practices that place a major emphasis only upon specific assessments may minimize the value of daily classroom instruction and experiences, at least insofar as that instruction is reflected in an academic mark.
Homework is a very important resource in helping students to learn. It is given to provide the student with an opportunity to complete or expand a classroom assignment; to develop good work habits and a sense of responsibility; to provide opportunities for students to engage in research projects and/or self-directed activities. Homework is assigned Monday through Thursday. Students who do not complete homework and or class-work will be provided a special table during recess and lunch to complete his or her work. Snack, lunch, and bathroom opportunities will be afforded to every student.
Kindergarten 15-20 minutes per day
Grades 1-2 30-35 minutes per day
Grades 3-4 35-45 minutes per day
Grade 5 50-60 minutes per day
Grade 6 20 minutes for each academic class daily
Grades 7-8 25 to 30 minutes for each academic class daily
Parents will receive a homework policy developed by each grade level.