By J.T. Shatzer
From sports, academics, and constant family pressure, Howard County is possibly one of the most competitive and stressful environments for someone to grow up in. In order to tackle such an alarming issue within the students of our community, the Howard County Board of Education recently proposed a new homework and grading policy which limits the amount of homework a student is assigned every night.
Our county boasts some of the highest standardized testing scores in the nation and is also home to one of the highest median income rates per family in the nation as well. With all this pressure set on the shoulders of students within the county at such a young age, stress has become an increasingly prominent problem within the community. This stress can lead to various mental health issues in the future, such as depression, which is also affecting teens at an excessively high rate we have ever seen before.
There is no shortage of stress from school, work, athletics, after school clubs, and everything in between built up in a high school student’s life, time management can be extremely difficult to handle. In attempt to accommodate to the busy lives of students, the Board of Education has proposed set “time limits” for homework allocated per night in each class which a student is enrolled in. Currently, there are no limits to how much homework a teacher may give to a student per night, but, this proposal is set to enforce a “ninety minutes per week, per class” standard. This will result in a maximum of eighteen minutes of homework per night in each one of a student’s classes. Sounds reasonable, right?
On the surface, the proposal seems both fair and reasonable to the needs of both the students and educators. However members of the board fail to account for something they have preached for so long; understanding the uniqueness of every student. Glenelg Sophomore, Liam Hayden, explains how the implementation of this policy could greatly affect his production during and after school as he stated, “There’s no way I can learn and fully understand a topic in a class like AP Calculus with just eighteen minutes of homework each night. I get what they’re trying to do for us students to help with all the stress we face, but in the end it really is just counterproductive." What can be accomplished in eighteen minutes for one student may be completely different than what another student can accomplish in that same time frame. With this being the case, how is it possible to set such standards for homework completion? Does this mean that once eighteen minutes of homework is completed, that a student should stop even if they are not finished with the assignment?
This sort of situation can not only throw off the pace which is needed for a high functioning classroom environment, but can also affect the performance of tasks in class. This creates an insurmountable “gap” between students which teachers must spend time to overcome. On top of that, differentiating the level of rigor when comparing an on-grade level class to an AP class becomes more difficult as well. With this policy in place, students who are enrolled in AP classes are somehow expected to be limited to only eighteen minutes of homework per night. Glenelg Sophomore, Allie Gorsuch, explains just how much of her AP Government class relies on notes as she states, “There is no way I could possibly get my notes done with a limit of just eighteen minutes per night with them. On top of that, half of the material I retain from that class comes from the notes I take myself.” With the vast majority of AP and GT classes relying on quality time every night spent on homework in order to understand concepts learned in class, the proposed limit could have an extremely negative effect on these courses.
From the perspective of a student who is drowning in work each and every night, the idea of limiting the amount of homework seems like a great idea. However, what many fail to realize is that homework is given out in order to reaffirm or further knowledge learned in class. Therefore, constraining the amount of work students receive based on an arbitrary measurement of time will most definitely add more stress to the life of an already struggling student. The fact that they will not be prepared to perform well on in-class assignments or assessments ruins their overall academic performance in the long run. Although action most definitely needs to be taken in order to reduce the stress within students, constraining the amount of homework distributed within classes to a set amount of time is not the solution Howard County needs. Make sure to check in with The Shield for more updates on the changing policies within our school system.