Although studies show that students who do more homework score higher on tests, researchers have found that despite claims to the contrary by many so-called education specialists, children, whether in kindergarten or high school, are not taking home more work.
“The average student doing homework in these studies had a higher achievement score than 55 percent of students not doing homework,” Professor Harris Cooper of the University of Missouri found. Cooper’s results were reported by David Skinner in his article, “The Homework Wars,” in the Winter 2004 issue of The Public Interest magazine.
Interestingly, Skinner found that the type of homework that studies show is most effective is of the variety that educational experimenters like to avoid. Skinner reports, “Examining broad national and statewide studies of the relationship between time spent on homework and its effects, Cooper found that the correlations between time spent and positive effects increased ‘for subjects for which homework assignments are more likely to involve rote learning, practice or rehearsal.’”
Not too surprisingly, every study shows that homework benefits older students the most. “The average effect of homework was twice as large for high school as for junior high school students and twice as large again for junior high school students as for elementary school students.”
These same pupils, research shows, are the ones most likely to get homework. The National Assessment of Educational Progress survey taken for the U. S. Department of Education found that while third graders spent a little over a half per day an hour on homework, 11th graders spent almost one hour studying.
Even for these high school students, homework does not consume a large chunk of daily living. “The typical student, even in high school, does not spend more than an hour per day on homework,” the Brookings Institution found.
What happened is that where the amount of time spent on homework increased, the trend was one that started from zero. For example, according to a 1997 study for the University of Michigan: “The main reason for the increase in studying among 6- to 8-year-olds was an increase in the proportion who did some studying at all, from one-third to more than half.”
The NAEP found that between one-quarter to half of 9- to 13-year-olds receive no homework at all. For children of all ages, less than half do any homework. Among high school students, 82 percent study, compared to 62 percent in 1981.