Shrewsbury School Committee revises district homework policy

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Shrewsbury High School is over capacity in terms of enrollment, with 1,875 students currently learning in a building built for 1,475. Photo/Dakota Antelman
Shrewsbury High School is located at 64 Holden Street. The Shrewsbury School Committee recently revised its homework policy. (Photo/Dakota Antelman)

SHREWSBURY – A new homework policy is coming to Shrewsbury Public Schools after the School Committee voted to approve a revised policy April 26.

The effort to revise the homework policy dates back to 2019. The proposed revision would be the first update to the policy since 2002.

During an April 12 School Committee meeting, Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum, Instruction & Assessment Amy Clouter — who spearheaded the effort to revise the policy — presented the revised plans with Shrewsbury High School Principal Todd Bazydlo.

Whereas the old policy only covered grades one through eight, the revised policy includes high school students.

Under the new plan, freshman and sophomore students can expect 20 minutes of work per night per class, while junior and senior students may be assigned up to 25 minutes of work per night per class. Bazydlo noted that Advanced Placement (AP) classes may require more work than the policy prescribes.

The homework time for elementary and middle school students has remained the same in the revised plan.

Clouter and Bazydlo said that they expect that students in the same grade level will take different amounts of time to complete the same task. According to the revised policy, “parents and caregivers are encouraged to speak with their child’s teacher(s) if homework is routinely taking much more or much less time than called for in the guidelines.”

The homework policy revision is meant to promote balance and time management. The plan also acknowledges how technology can impact learning.

“The proliferation of cocurricular activities at the upper-middle level and high school make the issue of balance important,” Clouter said. “The other piece we really considered is thinking about – in addition to cultural and religious observances and just plain family time — [is] the role that technology can play in supporting students’ academics… but also the distraction factor.”

The new plan also includes a “no homework” calendar.

Two words were mentioned repeatedly throughout the presentation: flexibility and communication.

“Students, educators, and families all have different needs, so partnership and ongoing, two-way communication are key,” Clouter and Bazydlo’s presentation read. “Educators will offer flexibility while still holding students accountable for completing the work.”

Bazydlo mentioned the Goldilocks Principle: too little homework doesn’t help, and too much homework is not helpful. The goal is to assign students a “just right” amount of homework.

The draft of the revised policy can be found at https://tinyurl.com/2uvc7mr9.

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