Study shows students are getting too much homework

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COLUMBIA - As school bells about to ring again, a recent study reports some students are getting more homework than is recommended.

The study published in The American Journal of Family Therapy found some students were getting three times as much homework as recommended by the National Parent-Teacher Association and National Education Association.

The standard involves what is called the "Ten Minute Rule" which says first graders should be assigned 10-20 minutes of homework and the amount should increase by 10 minutes for every grade a student advances through.

Missouri National Education Association teaching and learning director Ann Jarrett said the "Ten Minute Rule" is just a general guideline and times can and will vary based on the student's ability and subject.

"Students who struggle academically tend to, it takes them longer to do homework, which makes sense," Jarrett said. "A lot of time kids are given times in school to do homework, so kids that work quickly and find the assignment easier get more of it done at school and have less of it to do at home."

In Missouri, there is no standard for how much homework can be given to students.

Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education communication coordinator Sarah Potter said the amount of homework is something that is left up to the district and is usually a classroom and curriculum decision.

Columbia Public Schools doesn't have a policy on homework.

"It varies from unit to unit," said community relations director Michelle Baumstark. "We try really hard to make sure that all homework that is assigned is relevant."

Baumstark said all homework is assigned by the course, standards and curriculum.

Kari Schuster, a sixth-grade English teacher at West Middle School in Columbia, said students need to get an hour of reading time a night to keep up with standards.

But after 11 years of teaching, Schuster said she has had to decrease the amount of homework each year because students are not finishing their outside work.

Schuster said this comes with students trying to juggle various extracurricular activities.

Schuster said, in her class, she tries to break projects up so she's not putting so much pressure on students that parents have to step in to do the homework for them.

Missouri Parent-Teacher Association president-elect Dorothy Gardner said the issue of homework levels does occasionally come up with the Missouri PTA, which encourages parents to have the conversation with the principals and teachers.

Gardner said, from the parent perspective, it feels good to have some homework, but once it gets overwhelming, it can often be stressful for the student.

Jarrett said establishing routines at home early on can help decrease stress for both the student and parent.

"Even early, homework is important for establishing routines and study habits that will carry them through college, so it is important that parents have a positive attitude about homework and ask about it," Jarrett said.

Jarrett said she encourages parents to have a discussion with their child's teacher if they have any concerns about the amount of homework.