The topic of homework comes across at most parent meetings as well as in many professional discussions and articles. The researcher surveyed participants in the National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE) list serv, NCTE-middle. The original survey may be viewed in the Appendix section of this site.
In response to the question, "Can you approximate how many of your students (in a rough percentage) have a consistent problem turning in homework (consistent=more than one missed assignment a week)?", the general responses ranged from 10% - 50%. Melissa Cooper of Texas indicates that the problem is largest with her "regular" students. "Every year," Cooper writes, "we get more and more parent complaints about how much homework the students have and how overwhelmed they are...Principals and teachers are getting pressure to pass kids, regardless of the amount of effort they actually put in. And then we catch flack for lowering the quality and standards of education." (Cooper, M., 2000)
When asked to hypothesize reasons for why students are not completing homework, the same theme seemed to run true in the surveys. Amy Cody, a seventh grade language arts teacher, summarizes, "Lack of structure at home, inconsistency in family, and laziness are the three most common reasons that I have noticed." (Cody, 2000) [NOTE: Please see the section entitled, "Concerns Affecting Homework," for a more in depth discussion of hypothesized causes for incomplete homework..]
In "The Importance of Homework," Janine Bempechat (1998) indicates that "...we are living through a period of massive underachievement in our nations schools...For fear of undermining other students' self-esteem, we have become increasingly reluctant to recognize academic excellence. Yet we think nothing of parading the winning quarterback down Main Street."
Blame for the apparent homework dilemma has been shifted from teachers, to students, to administrators, to parents. The main question to be considered by educators: Is homework worth giving at all?