Gaithersburg Elementary School In Maryland Gets Rid Of Homework In Favor Of Reading Time

Instead of assigning homework, teachers at Gaithersburg Elementary School in Maryland are asking students to spend 30 minutes a night reading, Fox 5 reports.

After conducting a review of work students were sent home with, Principal Stephanie Brant and her staff concluded the majority of assignments were worksheets that did not relate to what students were studying in the classroom.

“It was just: we were giving students something because we felt we had to give them something,” Brant told the station.

The principal, who joined the school’s staff two years ago, procured permission from the school district to abolish homework in favor of reading time.

Most parents support the no-homework policy. Luz Gomez, whose son is a third-grader at the school, told Fox 5: "When [my son] comes home, he has relaxing time. And I think kids need that relaxing time."

The Washington Examiner reports that elsewhere, in Vienna, Va., Cunningham Park Elementary School instituted a “Homework Bill of Rights” that prevents teachers from grading homework and assigning it over weekends or holidays.

"Who are we as educators to dictate how families spend their private time?" Principal Rebecca Baenig asked in a presentation to the Fairfax County Public School Board.

According to the Examiner, South Lakes High School in Reston, Va., will implement a similar bill of rights this year that, among other things, prohibits homework from counting for more than 10 percent of a student’s grade. The policy echoes one that was rolled out last June by the Los Angeles Unified School District, the country's second largest school system.

Brant’s experiment at Gaithersburg has so far seen mixed results. The Examiner reports that the percentage of third graders passing the Maryland School Assessment reading test declined from 76 percent to 64 percent this spring. Meanwhile, the fourth-grade pass rate remained the same, while fifth graders scored at 84 percent proficiency, up from 81 percent the year before.

Still, the scores are impressive given 70 percent of Gaithersburg’s students come from non-English speaking households and 82 percent qualify for free or subsidized lunch, according to Fox 5.