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Homework-Free Nights? N.Y. High School Mandates Some Relief

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By guest blogger Erik Robelen

Homework is a perennial issue of debate in schools and communities around the country. One high-performing New York City high school recently started forbidding teachers from assigning it altogether on certain days of the week, according to a new story in the Daily News.

The change reportedly came after Townsend Harris High School introduced an additional class into students' schedules and parents worried about an unmanageable workload.

"Maybe it will give [kids] more time to perform community service or participate in extracurriculars—or even get a little more sleep," Principal Anthony Barbetta told the newspaper.

A new Education Week story highlights the detrimental effect on teenagers' sleep patterns of too much homework. Students who reported heavy loads of homework were significantly more likely to be sleep-deprived, particularly if the homework load had increased a lot from age 12 to 15, explains the story by my colleague Sarah D. Sparks. Moreover, students who used computers frequently on school nights were more likely to have shorter and more sporadic sleep.

Over at the Teaching Now blog, we focus on a recent collection of articles on "The Homework Wars." One teacher describes her internal conflicts over assigning homework, arguing that the benefits are "limited at best." But another argues that eliminating homework limits students' opportunity to learn.

Finally, Education Week opinion blogger Peter DeWitt, a principal at a K-5 school, shares his thoughts in a piece titled, "Is Homework the Root of All Evil?"

So, what say you, readers? Time to halt homework altogether? Give kids a night or two off each week? Or just pile it on?

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