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Homework to Count at Braintree Middle Schools

In 2007, the school department decided against using homework in students' final grades. A new committee argues for change.

Next fall homework will once again be part of middle schoolers' grades in Braintree, a change school staff and officials say is a course correction to a 2007 decision eliminating that portion of students' final marks.

The school committee voted 6-0 on Monday night to adopt recommendations put forward by a committee of educators, parents and students from and middle schools and . Depending on department, homework will be incorporated as 10 to 15 percent of each student's term grade. A separate homework notation will also be included to keep the grading structure transparent.

"In my opinion it's correcting a mistake we made when we put the policy in," said school committee member Pam Kiley, who was part of the original homework group. "When it didn't count, the kids weren't doing the homework. This is kind of a win-win."

Back in August of 2007, the school committee approved a policy that removed middle school homework from student grades. It also created a separate grade for homework, part of an effort to avoid grade inflation. Homework, the previous committee believed, "was not portraying an accurate picture of actual student achievement."

Advantages to bringing homework back into the fold, according to the current committee report, include motivating students, preparing them for more difficult work loads at higher levels, assessing performance and raising expectations.

"While there are some advantages [to the policy adopted in 2007]," East Middle principal John Sheehan told members gathered at on Monday, "there are too many disadvantages in terms of academic rigor and preparing students for high school."

A year from now the committee should review the change, Mayor Joseph Sullivan said, with an eye on raising the percentage allotted to homework, because each student learns differently.

"Some kids don't test well," Sullivan said. "Homework prepares you for daily life because you have to do it everyday."

Sheehan said a homework club is already in place to help kids get their assignments done even if they don't have a good place to study at home. Teachers sign up on a monthly basis out of their own free time, he said. Department heads will have discussions with teachers to determine by September what percentage they will implement across their classes in both schools.

"If they are really trying every day they should be getting some kind of benefit from that work they are putting in every night," member David Ringius said. "No one likes homework, like no one likes bringing work home with them."

Maryellen Anson May 10, 2011 at 12:21 PM
This is the smartest decision they have ever made.
Joe Cody May 14, 2011 at 10:35 PM
I never under this policy from the day it started. I'm all for the kids getting credit for what the do at home. They may do the homework for the credit...but the benefits of doing it will show in the classroom.

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