Growing ‘no homework’ movement comes to Portland

More schools around US adopting the no-homework policy

An elementary student printing an assignment in a Portland classroom, September 12, 2016 (KOIN)

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — The students at Cherry Park Elementary won’t have homework tonight. Or any night, for that matter, as the school just adopted a no-homework policy.

Cherry Park Elementary Principal Kathy Barker, September 12, 2016 (KOIN)
Cherry Park Elementary Principal Kathy Barker, September 12, 2016 (KOIN)

Cherry Park Principal Kate Barker said a team of teachers looked at their homework systems over the summer, researched articles and found “there was not a whole lot of value in assigning homework to increase achievement levels” for elementary students.

“There’s certainly more research leaning toward the benefits at middle school and high school,” she added.

The pre-K through 5th-grade school in the David Douglas district has a very diverse population of about 600 students speaking about 30 different languages.

An elementary student printing an assignment in a Portland classroom, September 12, 2016 (KOIN)
An elementary student printing an assignment in a Portland classroom, September 12, 2016 (KOIN)

For families who might have had trouble interpreting a homework assignment due to a language barrier, Barker said they felt “assigning homework was really inequitable because we all have different homes that we go home to.”

She added they “really want to emphasize to our parent community how important it is to be engaging with your students in different ways besides doing a math work sheet.”

Barker suggested playing outside, going to the park, getting involved in sports of all kinds, doing some art project, taking a walk or reading together as activities that would benefits youngsters.

“I think so often we have such busy lives during the school day as well as, most importantly, after school, parents are getting home from work,” Barker told KOIN 6 News. “We really want to emphasize the family structure and getting back to engaging positively with one another.”

The no-homework policy doesn’t mean the school’s standards are less.

Cherry Park Elementary in East Portland in the David Douglas District, September 12, 2016 (KOIN)
Cherry Park Elementary in East Portland in the David Douglas District, September 12, 2016 (KOIN)

“We have a very rigorous academic structure here at Cherry Park,” she said. Every 6 weeks they check to find anyone below benchmarks and “then find a way to increase that achievement level.”

“Our goal at Cherry Park is that everyone is growing,” she said.

If parents want their student to have more school practice at home, the teachers will provide that.

Cherry Park is dedicated to the no-homework plan for this year and then they’ll review to see if it worked — for students, for parents, for achievement levels.

“We just want to make sure that our families have the time with one another to really engage,” Barker said.

At Alameda Elementary in Portland, homework is now optional. The Beaverton School District has made no changes to homework policy so far.

KING-TV in Seattle reports that at least a dozen elementary schools in Seattle are doing away with the afterschool assignments.

Around the country, schools in Tucson, Massachusetts and Texas are among the many spots that have instituted a no-homework policy. When 2nd-grade teacher Brandy Young instituted her no-homework policy in Godley, Texas, her letter to parents went viral.

Stacey Jacobson-Francis works on math homework with her 6 year old daughter Luci Wednesday, May 14, 2014, at their home in Berkeley, Calif. (AP Photo)
Stacey Jacobson-Francis works on math homework with her 6 year old daughter Luci Wednesday, May 14, 2014, at their home in Berkeley, Calif. (AP Photo)

How much homework should your child be getting?

The US Department of Education, the National PTA and the National Association of School Psychologists all say kindergarten through 2nd-grade students can benefit from 10 to 20 minutes each day.

As students get older, the time can increase about 10 minutes for each grade (that is, 30 minutes in 3rd grade, 40 minutes in 4th grade and so on.)

The groups also agree that homework can help elementary students develop good study habits and keep their family informed about what they’re learning.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Comments are closed.