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Homework can only count for 10% of student's grade, new L.A. schools policy decrees

June 27, 2011 |  8:05 am

On the value of homework

The Los Angeles Unified School District has enacted a new policy saying that homework can count for only 10% of a student's grade.

The policy is intended to account for the myriad urban problems facing the district's mostly low-income, minority population. It's also aimed at supporting L.A. Unified's increasing focus on boosting measureable academic achievement.

According to the new policy: "Varying degrees of access to academic support at home, for whatever reason, should not penalize a student so severely that it prevents the student from passing a class, nor should it inflate the grade." It was distributed to schools last month.

Critics -- mostly teachers -- worry that the policy will encourage students to slack off assigned work and even reward those who already disregard assignments. And they say it could penalize hardworking students who receive higher marks for effort.

Some educators also object to a one-size-fits-all mandate they said could hamstring teaching or homogenize it. They say, too, that students who do their homework perform significantly better than those who don't -- a view supported by research.

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-- Howard Blume

Photo: Manny Hernandez, 18, a senior at Marshall High is developing his own janitorial business outside school hours. He says homework is “a waste of time and a poor reflection of whether I’m learning the subject. And it’s so easy to copy other students’ homework, it’s ridiculous.” Credit: Francine Orr / Los Angeles Times

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