At a Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District Board meeting earlier this month, the school board reviewed and discussed possible revisions to the district’s current Homework Policy.

Any recommendations from the school board, along with suggested policy language from the California School Board Association (CSBA), may be used to revise the current Homework Policy, which will eventually be changed and brought before the board for a vote.

“We have an old policy and we want to revisit that policy,” said school board vice president Jose Escarce. “We want to look at it and see if the policy needs to be tweaked.”

The current Homework Policy — which states why homework may be assigned and suggests types of homework and the length of time that should be devoted to homework for each grade — is 19 years old.

“I do think there’s much better research now about what the right amount of homework is at different grade levels,” noted Escarce. “When the policy was implemented in 1989, there was much less research.”

In looking at other districts that have revised their homework policies more recently, Escarce noted that there are a number of issues that are not addressed in the current policy. For example: What are the consequences of not completing homework? Should there be homework during holidays and on weekends? Should the district worry about access to technology in homework?

“There are all sorts of issues that are not in our policy and we need to look at,” Escarce said, adding that it’s important that a new policy be implemented and applied uniformly across all schools in the district.

The current policy states that kindergarten homework should “be no more than five to ten minutes a day or 20 to 40 [minutes] per week.”

It should build a positive relationship between school and home, require positive interaction between parent and child and be “non-frustrating.”

“If a child becomes frustrated, parent should stop immediately,” the policy states. “If this is consistent, the teacher should be consulted.”

Under the current policy, in grades one through five, homework may be given Monday through Thursday. Appropriate weekend homework may also be given, the policy states.

In first grade, ten to 20 minutes of homework daily may be given to students. In second grade, 20 to 30 minutes daily may be given to students. In third grade, 30 to 40 minutes may be given to students. In fourth grade, 40 to 50 minutes may be given to students. In fifth grade, 45 to 60 minutes may be given to students.

In middle school, depending on the grade, the policy states that a total of one to two hours, or 15 to 40 minutes per class, should be devoted to homework.

In high school, two or three hours of homework, or 30 minutes for each academic subject, may be assigned daily. Appropriate weekend homework may be given.

But this may all change shortly.

Currently, the district’s chief academic officer Sally Chou and interim superintendent Tim Cuneo are putting together a task force to help with the process of revising the Homework Policy, said Escarce.

The task force will include teachers, principals and parents, among others.

The school board is expected to receive a presentation on the goals of the Homework Policy task force at the next meeting, Thursday, November 20th.

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