Homework policy settles in, meeting with little resistance

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A new homework policy recently created by the administration has gone into effect at THHS for the 2013-14 school year, forbidding specific classes from giving homework on certain days in order to prevent students from becoming overwhelmed with work. So far, most students and teachers feel the homework policy is working, though each group has varying opinions on the subject.

According to Principal Anthony Barbetta, the administration created the policy with input from parents and teachers over the summer in accordance with the new all bands meet schedule that went into effect this year. In previous years, students would skip one class each day and thus not get homework from that class. The new policy states that no class can give more than thirty minutes of homework per day, with teachers of English and Math classes not allowed to give homework on Mondays, Classical and Modern Language classes not allowed to give homework on Tuesdays, Science, Music, and Health classes not allowed to give homework on Wednesdays, and Art and History Classes not allowed to give homework on Thursdays. There are no restrictions on assigning homework for any classes on Fridays.

“The purpose of the policy is to make sure students are not overburdened with too much homework,” said Mr. Barbetta.

The administration used a grid to decide which classes were not allowed to give homework on which days. Assistant Principal of Math, Science, and Technology Susan Brustein said, “Originally we tried to form the policy in conjunction with the odd-even testing schedule so that students wouldn’t have too much homework the night before a test, but with the all bands meet schedule, this would have dropped homework too often over the week for too many classes, so instead of this or a schedule where all major subjects were assigned or not assigned collectively on the same day, we just went with the grid.”

Assistant Principal for the Humanities Rafal Olechowski agreed, adding that it was also to set a time limit for the amount of homework students had to complete in a day. “It forces teachers to get to the bottom of what they want students to do, as there isn’t time for them to do everything. This is particularly true for AP and English classes, where homework is more intensive and and more time is needed to complete it. We held the students at the center, asking: ‘What is best for them?’ ” he said.

Most teachers feel that the homework policy is working, though it has not been in effect a long time and has little influence on teaching.

“It’s a little too early to see if it is completely successful, but from what I’ve been observing, most students have positive opinions about it. Some feel that they still get too much homework, but most are positive,” said Mr. Barbetta.

Physics teacher John Tsai agreed, saying “It doesn’t really affect me personally. Sometimes it’s annoying, as I like to give homework for a topic the day I teach it, since it reinforces the learning. I’m not always allowed to do that because of the policy. Other than that, it’s fine.”

Classical Languages teacher Dr. Marianthe Colakis concurred, saying that the homework policy doesn’t interfere with her teaching and that she gives the same amount of homework as she  always has. “Sometimes, I have to be reminded not to give homework on Tuesdays because I can do it automatically, and I have to make sure I give the right homework for the right lesson on the right day, but other than that, it’s perfectly acceptable,” she said.

Most students also feel that the homework policy is working.

Sophomore Malik Khan said, “I feel that this policy is well under control and working. It compensates for having every class everyday and I feel that the homework is now manageable, even if you’re involved in an after school sport, club, or activity.”

Junior Lina Rob agreed, saying that she felt that  teachers followed it more than they did last year.  She added that while some teachers “give us [the students] homework on the day they’re not supposed to, they make it due two days later instead of one.” She did not mind this, saying that it encouraged some students to finish it the day they got it, leaving them with less homework overall later on.

Freshman Ben Pulatov, however, felt that the homework policy was a good idea but hasn’t worked very well, saying, “The days when labor-intensive classes such as Math and English are not allowed to give homework should be spaced out evenly throughout the week as opposed to one day so that we have less hard homework to do in a single night, making life easier.”

Senior Brian Shtab feels the policy has greater impact on underclassmen.

“As a senior… the new schedule doesn’t affect me greatly, and the new homework policy is not that significant of a change,” he said. “I imagine it would be more beneficial to the underclassmen and work better for them, since their work can pile up.”