More Seattle schools adopt 'no homework' policy

KING 5's Elisa Hahn reports.

The no-homework movement is growing in Seattle.

A letter went home to parents at Whittier Elementary notifying them of the new school-wide "no homework" policy.

And Whittier is not alone. At least a dozen elementary schools in Seattle are jumping on the no-homework bandwagon.

Inside her first grade class, Shannon Mayo read out loud to her new students and then asked the kids to try reading on their own. She was focusing their energy on the curriculum in class, sending no assignments home.

“To go home and spend another hour on a worksheet or some other task -- it's exhausting, it's daunting, and it can often feel meaningless,” said Mayo.

The principal said teachers unanimously voted for the no homework policy just before the classes started, citing research on its negative impact and the belief that rigor should be in the classroom

“If I know the child is struggling with a particular math problem say, I know I need to address that as a teacher,” said the principal, Melissa Schweitzer. “But if they're doing it at home, we have no idea is mom and dad doing that for you, or big brother or sister? Or are you doing it on your own?"

Based on feedback so far, the clear majority of parents support the idea.

“I've read so many articles at this point talking about how research consistently shows how homework provides no benefit and instead burns students out,” said Carrie Riney, who has two students at the school.

But one mother makes an argument worth considering. How prepared will kids be for middle school?

Gina Alvino has a daughter in fifth grade.

“I'm really worried about what this year will do for my kid?” said Alvino. “What’s right for a kindergartner is not what’s right for a fifth grader.”

Schweitzer says teachers may occasionally give students “application” assignments, to apply what they learned in class in a real-world setting. They’re hoping to encourage kids to spend more time exploring other activities, spending time with their families, and getting a healthy amount of sleep.

Seattle Public Schools says for now it's allowing elementary schools to be autonomous. Each school can decide on its own what it wants to do about homework.

Copyright 2016 KING


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