Some elementary schools in Utah no longer handing out homework

Posted at 9:48 AM, Jan 08, 2020
and last updated 2020-01-08 09:48:26-05

HERRIMAN, Utah — Two Utah elementary schools have decided to get rid of homework this school year to see how it affects the students’ mental health.

It wasn't a quick decision, the Butterfield Canyon Elementary School principal said. A few years back, a previous school superintendent shared some research from John Hattie, who argues that homework for elementary school students is not effective.

“When there is research to show that homework is not effective, it’s a practice that we need to leave behind," Principal Amanda Bollinger told KSTU.

She first started talking to her teachers about the idea last school year, but finally decided to fully implement the no-homework policy for the 2019-2020 school year.

In terms of academics, they haven't seen any sort of negative impacts to students' performance, Bollinger said. In fact, third-grade teacher Janet Hall said she has seen her students work harder and smarter.

"I am seeing them more focused on what they are doing at school. They know the importance of staying on task and learning here," she said.

It's been an adjustment, Hall admits — although she was never one to hand out loads of homework.

“I always said anything that the kids don’t finish in class would be sent home as homework, and now I don’t get to do that," she said.

Where the no-homework policy has been most beneficial is with students' mental health, Principal Bollinger said.

“We’ve actually had a reduction by about 50 percent in anxiety referrals to our school physiologist," she said.

Not everyone has been on board, Principal Bolinger said, but most are in support.

The hope is that students will use this time to play outside, read more, eat dinner with their family and get to bed early.

"Hopefully parents are taking advantage of the time to teach their kids life skills and things that will really benefit them, more than writing their spelling words five times," Hall said.

Students are still asked to read 20 minutes every night.