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Homework counts, a lot, to one board member

December 10, 2013
By JO ANN BOBBY-GILBERT - Staff Writer ( , Morning Journal News

EAST LIVERPOOL - Some students in the city school district may no longer feel the need to come up with excuses for why their homework wasn't done, and one school board member isn't happy about it.

During board member comments Monday night, member Scott Dieringer referenced a letter he said had been circulating among students, sent by a principal, regarding homework.

According to Dieringer, who did not have a copy of the letter Monday, students were advised homework would not be counted as a grade, and he said, "I don't understand how we can't count homework," saying he believes this will lead to students just choosing not to complete homework assignments.

"How can we support such a move?" Dieringer posed, asking Superintendent James Herring if he, specifically, supported it, saying, "Homework should be handed out and graded."

Herring said there is a "fine line" regarding homework, saying he recalled when he taught, he did not count homework as a grade since some students didn't understand the work at home and others did not get the assistance from parents at home that they needed to complete it.

Herring said he offered five bonus points to students if they completed homework and none to those who failed to complete it.

The building leadership team has recommended not counting homework toward students' grades this year, Herring said, adding, "I have no problem with it. When kids take a test, they can't take it home. They're trying to get across what kids know here (at school)."

He recommended Dieringer speak to the principal and sit in on the classrooms to get a better grasp of the concept, but Dieringer said, "We better monitor it very closely. Kids are going to say, 'Why do I have to do it?'"

Board member Richard Wolf said a policy had been instituted at one time implementing a six point grading system which included tests, class participation and homework, pondering when that policy was eliminated.

"I believe homework is a required part of any course of study. I don't know why we eliminated the policy," Wolf said.

"I don't know that we have," board President Janice Martin said, noting that without a copy of the letter it was uncertain what exactly has been proposed.

After the meeting the Journal obtained a copy of the Nov. 6 letter written by Westgate Principal Carole Sutton and addressed to "Westgate Families."

In it, she wrote that it had come to her attention some families are concerned about the frequency, quantity or quality of homework being assigned and that it is the "collective professional opinion" of the building leadership team and faculty that while some teachers require homework, others don't.

"Homework should be to school work what practice is to a sport or musical instrument, PRACTICE. While students are required to complete assigned homework, it cannot be used to negatively affect their grade," Sutton continued.

She invited parents to speak with their children's teachers if they have questions.

While Sutton had given the board a presentation about Westgate earlier in the meeting, she left prior to Dieringer's comments about the homework issue.

He had referred to the analogy about homework being akin to athletic practice, saying, "That's why certain players play on game night and others don't. Homework is like practice and the game is important."



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