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Administrator’s Perspective

Patrick McDougall, Principal

Patrick McDougall, Principal

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When people think about school, they often think about homework.  So, is homework helpful or harmful? Patrick McDougall, Principal of Toby Johnson Middle School in Elk Grove, California believes that homework is necessary… just in reasonable amounts.

 “I think homework is like anything else in education.  It depends on the quality of the homework. There’s no doubt students have to practice, and it’s super important that they have independent practice because in class we do a lot of group work, and the teacher’s teaching and we have lots of different activities, and so sometimes at the end of the period, we’re not exactly sure if every single kid understands what was taught.  So, one of the purposes of homework is to give the student practice and find out if they really understand it.. But, I think a little bit of homework is important because it reinforces what you learned at school.”

He also explains an average of how much homework students should have nightly:

“You know, I think what we know for sure is too much homework is not a good idea and no homework is a bad idea.  So it’s all about balance. I don’t think any teacher should be assigning more than 30 minutes because they need to be sensitive to the fact that kids have other teachers and of course there are certain times in the year where projects and things are due.  

Mr. McDougall went on to explain a basic formula to calculate average homework times:

“You basically take the grade level and add a zero.  So seventh graders should have 70 minutes of homework, eighth graders would have 80.  It’s an average – some days are more, some days are less, but that’s a good rule of thumb.”

Not only do students have this basic formula, but also a high standard to live up to.  Mr. McDougall tells us a little bit more about that:

“You kids live in California, we have the highest standards in the nation.  So what we ask of our students is the hardest in the nation and there’s a lot of kids ‘cause.  What? One out of seven people in America live in California. So, it’s a big complicated state with really hard standards and I think that kids in California work really really hard.  I think they have to work harder than most kids. So, I’m very sensitive to what you guys have to do.”

This administrator’s perspective on homework is that no middle school teacher should assign more than 30 minutes per class each night, averaging 70 – 80 minutes depending upon grade level.

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