WILMINGTON — Schools in Wilmington are beginning to define homework policy by philosophy rather than time limits per grade, though the subject will be a point of “continuous conversation,” according to Superintendent Dr. Glenn Brand.
The new homework policy, which was officially adopted in September of 2018, was created by a committee of stakeholders and based upon education research. Its implementation has been divided into two stages: communicating responsibilities, and staff discussions and professional development. Questions have lingered, however, regarding how teachers and administrators will be held accountable to the policy, and how its content will be communicated to community members.
“We have work to do, I know that,” said Brand.
Assistant Superintendent Dr. Brian Regan explained how the new policy differed from past ones, and how the stakeholder committee arrived at the point they did.
“There’s not a significant difference in the two (policies)… other than the fact that the new one really focuses on philosophy, more so than giving you number of minutes per grade level for homework,” said Regan.
“It also gives us more of an opportunity to engage in conversation with the professionals that are in front of kids everyday about what homework means, why we should be giving it, what homework assignments should look like,” he added.
Regan identified Rethinking Homework by Cathy Vatterott (2010) as having informed the discussions regarding creation of the new policy. Five themes Regan cited from the book as being important for program development included “purpose of assignments,” “efficiency of assignments,” “ownership of assignments,” “competence of assignments,” and “design of assignments.”
Regan added that the district leadership team would be working to create a variety of professional development programs based around implementation of the new policy and focused upon these five themes. He said these programs would take place next fall or early winter.
Members of the School Committee commented upon the update.
“It’s good to see that, another way of executing it, and trying to get it in the hands of parents, as well as teachers and administrators,” said committee member MJ Byrnes.
Committee member David Ragsdale asked if the policy should be subject to a system of monitoring or measurement.
“How do we know if this new policy is rolling out successfully during the next school year?” Ragsdale asked.