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Maryland School Abolishes Traditional Homework

Photo: Anne Wick/Getty ImagesThere were likely cries of joy from students (and maybe a few parents) at Gaithersburg Elementary School in Maryland when Principal Stephanie Brant announced a radical new experiment: no more traditional homework.

Instead, students are asked to read about 30 minutes a night from a book of their choosing.

Over the past few years, Brant and her staff evaluated what teachers were sending students home with and found they were asking students to complete a lot of worksheets.

"The worksheets didn't match what we were doing instructionally in the classroom," Brant said in a news story on MyFoxDC.com. "We were giving students something because we felt we have to give them something."

Parents appear to support the change, and Brant hopes it will prove motivational for her students.

Unlike most elementary schools, students at Gaithersburg are allowed to go to the library every day instead of just once a week as a class. The school believes this will strengthen reading habits and result in the students consuming more books at their own pace.

According to MyFoxDC.com, the new policy seems to be paying off. Fifth graders at Gaithersburg Elementary School scored around 72 percent proficiency in math and about 81 percent proficiency in reading in the last round of standardized test scores.

Photo: Anne Wick/Getty Images

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Sep 10, 2012 3:36AM
Wow.  I am reading the comments and these people can not be bothered with common sense or the facts.  Learning happens AT SCHOOL. Homework does not further learning.  It is a stress causer and time consumer for kids and families and a stress causer and time consumer for teachers FOR NO apparent academic purpose.   Let teachers spend their time planning and delivering high quality instruction. Please.
Sep 9, 2012 8:06AM
This is INSANE and just one more chip in the already crumbling wall of destroying education in America as the push to privatization is pursued. Parents are liking this? Then THEY'RE IDOIOTS TOO. I would be outraged if my children's schools even suggested this. As it is moron Scott Walker is introducing legilslation here that teachers do not have to a degree to teach in WI or that this is in the works here.....It is all part of his reckless plans to totally destroy public education and the teaching profession in the state of WI as well as see that teachers are paid next to NOTHING here. I am so sick of this I want to CRY, JUST CRY!!!!
Sep 9, 2012 7:40AM
I can't believe this administrator, homework is not just used to busy a child but to familiarize and assess where they are in regards to their grade level expectations.
How do they possibly expect little Billy to learn if all they are asking of him is to read something of his liking? This is not only dumbing down the school but it is also catering to that small but overly sensitive group of people in the world who wish to coddle and make life easy for their child. News flash folks life is not always easy and you don't always get your way and sometimes you have to do things that you don't like. I certainly hope no other schools follow suit. 
Sep 9, 2012 7:09AM
Just remember, for every assignment you have to multiply it by the number of students in the classroom to know how much grading will need to be done. 4 nights of home work per week, times 30 students comes to 120 papers for teachers to grade. Add that to 5 days of classwork, and one assignment per day, for another 150 papers to grade. So far that is 270. We know that elementary students do more than one assignment daily in class. Realistically a teacher grades 500 papers per week. This is done in their own time, as planning periods are a misnomer. They are taken up by crossing guard and cafeteria duty, staff meetings, parent phone calls, lesson prep, and classroom cleanup. Teachers are underpaid for the hours they are expected to work. I think that if parents want their children to have homework ever night, then they need to step up and volunteer to take care of some of the other things that need to be done to run a classroom. Or they could help to grade papers. 
Sep 9, 2012 5:00AM
Gaithersburg parents can blame Stepanie Brant for making their children lack in academic skills. reinforcement of what was learned in classroom is needed not eliminated.
Sep 9, 2012 4:54AM
 I can thank my complete lack of math skills to a lovely "experiment" called IMS Math. Hope this works out better for these kids. I my experience  I have read and was required to read many things I do not want. It broadened my scope and gave me exposure to things outside my interest level. It is called, "raising the bar".  Better kids learn that they may have to read and comprehend things that are not of their choosing earlier in life than to believe that life is all just about them.  
Sep 9, 2012 4:01AM
This is an elementary school, the kids are young and they get or should get enough workout in school.  Literacy, particularly at this age, and expanding vocabulary, and generating interest in new words, new ideas, new concepts is a fantastic education.  The Charlotte Mason style and others use a literature-based methodology of teaching.  Even better, for younger kids who will be open, have the parents do a turn-taking at reading a page each, helping with new words, choosing new words of interest to look up and define...do activities based on the book with them, visit a museum or park, etc that is similar to the book.. It is amazing what will spark a kids interest to research more and more.  Some people advocate literature and getting out in the world, and being with parents in an enjoyably educational capacity is fantastic for this age.  Have the kids write a book report or review to help them with their critical thinking skills as well as their writing skills....go for it!!!!! 
Sep 9, 2012 3:50AM
My child reads for enjoyment.  Does that count as homework?
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