After several months of work by a committee of stakeholders including students, parents, teachers and school administrators, the Goochland County Public Schools’ homework policy is set to get a major overhaul ahead of students returning to class in August.
On June 8, county school board members approved the revised policy document on first reading, with several board members noting that the changes would help ensure equity for all students and also offer teachers improved guidelines for assigning homework.
According to GCPS Assistant Superintendent of Instruction Stephen Geyer, the updates to the homework policy are intended to both modernize and expand on a directive that was previously only around half a page long and offered only a basic framework for what constituted appropriate homework.
The updated policy, Geyer explained, goes into far greater detail on what the policy drafters refer to as “effective homework design,” taking into account the critical importance of balance in the lives of students who may be juggling many other activities and commitments in addition to their schoolwork.
When it comes to the lives of students, “Health and wellbeing should always be priority number one,” reads the new policy. “This includes sleep, rest, nutrition, play, and exercise. Each of these needs is tied to varying time demands based on a student’s developmental level.”
The policy goes on to discuss the appropriate types of homework that should be assigned, the frequency, and the amount of time homework should reasonably be expected to take per day depending on the grade level of the student.
“While there is no perfect prescription for the frequency and duration of homework,” the policy reads, “there is strong evidence that students’ age, development, and academic level should be considered whenever homework is designed and assigned.”
Geyer told board members that he was grateful for the work of all the committee members and added that the new policy would go a long way toward helping students with limited resources remain on a level playing field with their classmates.
The board is expected to revisit the policy changes during its July meeting and make a final vote at that time.