A Mirada poll found that a majority of seniors claim that they are given 6-10 hours of homework per week.
The poll, administered to two traditional and two AP English classes, was conducted after a controversy regarding a post on the website of Principal Brian Ginter regarding his opinion that formative assessment should ideally count for between 10 and 20 percent of a students grade.
A plurality of seniors, 40 percent, said that they receive more homework in English than in any other subject.
English teacher Jennie Scott offered her opinion as to why this is.
“I think that particularly here, we expect students to read quite a bit,” Scott said.
“Our goal is to prepare students for college and we want them well versed in world literature. In order to participate and get the most out of learning in class, they have to read and do that work outside of class.”
English teacher Matthew Valencich defended his homework policies.
“The amount of homework I give is reasonable and fair,” Valencich said.
“It is sufficient for writing and discussing ideas in class.”
The seniors polled tended to agree that the amount of homework they received was reasonable.
More than three quarters, 77.5 percent, said that the amount of homework they received was “about right.” There are, however, dissenters.
“I honestly don’t think teachers give us enough homework,” senior Mackenzie Nicolas said.
“It helps us prepare for college and I hardly have any.”
Those students who have expressed complaints were not necessarily complaining about the amount of homework in and of itself, but about the difficulty of budgeting it with extracurricular activities.
“Sometimes it is hard to manage playing a sport with my other extracurriculars,” senior Aaron Prohofsky said.
“On top of that I have homework, but I’ve found that not procrastinating is the only real way to get all of my work done.”
When it comes to Principal Ginter’s opinion regarding how much homework should count toward a student’s grade, 72 percent of seniors reported that they believe it should count for over 10 percent of their academic grade.
“Homework shouldn’t be worth more than ten percent of a grade,” senior Ray Burgess said.
“Tests are what show knowledge.”
Jennie Scott supports the idea that teachers should come up with their own policies regarding homework.
“I think that as professionals, teachers know the value of the work they assign,” she said.
“I don’t believe in a policy regarding a certain percentage.”
Scott says that collaboration among teachers to make sure too much homework isn’t being assigned at once is unrealistic.
“I have 160 students and they all have different teachers,” she said.
“That would mean touching base with a lot of teachers and that would be ridiculous. The reality is you can’t track all of that. There’s a diverse group of teachers.”
The amount of time students spend doing homework per week exceeds the amount they spend watching television and using social networking sites.
And although to every underclassman it appears that every senior has an open sixth period, over 50 percent of those polled were enrolled in more than five classes.
With 54 percent of the seniors polled taking one or more advanced placement classes, the pressure to succeed mounts.
The pressure to succeed in high school so that a student can move on to the four year college of their dreams can be highly taxing on many students, especially those taking one or more Advanced Placement courses.
The amount of homework high school students receive has been part of the ongoing national discussion concerning education reform since at least 2009, when the documentary film “Race to Nowhere” highlighted the negative effects of too much homework.
At the end of the 2011-2012 school year, following requests from parents, Principal Brian Ginter made a post on his web page requesting that teachers only count formative assessment for between ten and twenty percent of a grade.
The post was met with mixed reactions from parents and teachers, with many of the latter making clear that their homework policies are independent of any suggestions the Principal may make.
Nevertheless, the dual issues of how much homework to give and how much homework should count promise to be ones affecting seniors and all high school students for some time to come.