New Policy Mandates Schedule For Assigning Homework, Tests, Projects

New+Policy+Mandates+Schedule+For+Assigning+Homework%2C+Tests%2C+Projects

Amanda Granato, Editor-in-Chief

Senior Samantha Singarella walks out the school doors at 1:15 p.m. every day, making a mental tally of the work she has to complete that night as she goes. Even with double-blocked senior release, Singarella, second in her class and taking six AP courses, will not finish with her homework until late in the evening.

A new homework policy, enacted by the district in the hopes of balancing students’ schedules, went into effect Oct. 15. The policy mandates the days of the week during which both core and elective classes may assign tests and major projects as well as homework.

“I don’t like [the policy] very much,” Singarella said. “I think it’s encouraging teachers to force tests on the days which they know they have to have them. I have three tests this week. I don’t like that they’re having to fit the homework and the quizzes to a schedule rather than fitting them to the lesson.”

The eight-period schedule allows for the possibility, however unlikely, of eight homework assignments a night. Academic Associate Principal Rhonda Davis says the need for a homework policy was realized when students at another MISD high school had six major tests on one day.

“The object isn’t to see how much we can put on you in one day, but rather to really test your knowledge,” Dr. Davis said. “So we want to make sure we are doing that equally and dividing the load up as far as test and quiz days.”

Dr. Davis believes the policy will help students in upper-level classes juggle unrealistic workloads.

“I think [the policy] can be effective because it provides a balance. It doesn’t take away the number of tests or the number of homework assignments,” Dr. Davis said. “The purpose is for students to have independent practice and then be tested about what they know about the TEKS.”

However, in addition to making students’ lives easier, the homework policy has complicated the lives of teachers.

“One of the struggles is that a lot of our teachers plan so far ahead in their units that it probably put a kink in things that they had already taken the time to plan and design,” Dr. Davis said. “But our teachers are flexible and will be making adjustments because they have a desire to do what’s right for our students. They realize it’s not right for a student to have six tests in one day.”

English teacher Stephanie Shackelford has mixed feelings about the new policy.

“I fully understand we need a testing schedule, as many teachers plan for tests and projects to be due at the end of the six weeks,” Mrs. Shackelford said. “However, being so stringent with homework is difficult on a high school level because there are so many interruptions we cannot plan for.”

Not considering the scheduling issues the policy will cause for teachers, Mrs. Shackelford believes it may not even help the problem it was designed to solve.

“In the long term the homework worries me because I think teachers will pile on homework on all the same days,” Mrs. Shackelford said. “We had a lot of down time on the block schedule when students could do much of their homework in class, and we don’t have as much of that on this schedule.”