National Writing Project

Is Homework Working?

By: Lisa Mangione
Publication: Phi Delta Kappan
Date: April 2008

Summary: Lisa Mangione, a special education teacher and Western New York Writing Project teacher-consultant, examines the usefulness of homework, how it's graded, and whether parents should be involved in helping kids finish it.


Excerpts from Essay

The more conversations I have with friends and relatives who are panicked and confused over the homework that their children receive (and are incapable of completing on their own), the more outraged I become. As a new parent, I wonder what position I'll take when my own daughter has a doozy of an assignment. Do I let her tackle it independently, even if it means she will stumble occasionally? Or will I succumb to the pressure of ensuring that she gets "good grades," even if those grades scarcely reflect any real understanding?

So, if the kids who really need the practice aren't attempting the homework and are getting little support at home, and the ones who do complete it are often getting too much support, is homework working for anybody?

While the debate over homework isn't new, it has resurfaced with some recent findings that there is a negative correlation between the time spent on homework and student achievement.

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