Homework: How Much is Too Much?


Julia Bohse, 2016-2017 Writer

As students, it often feels as if we are bombarded with homework. When one factors in extracurricular activities, jobs, a social life, family time, and sleep, it begins to seem as if there are not nearly enough hours in the day to accommodate our busy schedules.

The current HCPSS homework policy recommends seven to fifteen hours of homework per week for high school students. Additionally, students may not receive mandatory homework over the summer or electronic assignments when school is not in session. This homework policy, as is, is not enough to ensure that students have enough time to pursue other interests outside of school, get adequate sleep, or spend time with friends and family.

At the national level, the National PTA and the National Education Association recommend ten minutes of homework per night multiplied by the grade level of the student. This means that a ninth grade student would receive 90 minutes of homework per night and a twelfth grade student would receive 120 minutes of homework per night.

According to the US News & World Report, the average high school teacher assigns 3.5 hours of homework per week, which can add up to 17.5 hours of homework a week. This total is 2.5 hours over the maximum fifteen hours of homework per week recommended by HCPSS and exceeds the requirements set by the ten minute homework rule.

In a study published in the Journal of Experimental Education, excess homework is linked with worsened psychological and physical well-being. Due to the pressures to complete homework and the stress that accompanies it, students that receive too much homework do not get adequate sleep and are more likely to experience anxiety, headaches, and depressive symptoms. With nine out of ten students reporting that they have experienced homework stress, these health concerns should not be dismissed.

In school districts that have already implemented reduced homework policies, parents, students, and teachers have offered positive feedback on the new regulations. Parents in these districts are glad to be able to spend more time with their children, teachers like the idea of allowing students a mental break from homework and studying, and students are finding themselves with more time to pursue activities they are passionate about.

Riverdale, a school in New York, recently created a policy where if students found themselves spending more than 45 minutes on homework per subject per night, they were to stop whether or not the homework was completed. Harvard-Westlake in Los Angeles recently adopted a policy where students will not have more than three hours of homework weekly for each subject. In addition to this limit, the school is also surveying students each semester to get an idea of how much time is being spent on homework.

While homework is a way to promote additional enrichment and allows time to practice the skills learned in class, too much homework leaves students with no time for anything else. The job of the school is to cultivate the entire student, not just their academic skills.

Unfortunately, in our system, competition and rigor are often placed over other interests, including student well-being. If students are assigned less homework, they will have more time to become well-rounded individuals and develop other passions and skills.

In order to allow students more time to develop other interests, I propose a new homework policy in which students will not receive homework on the weekends and will be limited to three hours of homework per week for each subject. This policy would help to ensure that the homework assigned is purposeful and relevant and does not cut too much into the time we need to spend on other meaningful activities.