Students from less educated families are most in need of the boost that effective homework can provide, because they’re less likely to acquire academic knowledge and vocabulary at home.
And homework can provide a way for lower-income parents—who often don’t have time to volunteer in class or participate in parents’ organizations—to forge connections to their children’s schools.
The research relied on by those who oppose homework has actually found it has a modest positive effect at the middle and high school levels—just not in elementary school.
But for the most part, the studies haven’t looked at whether it matters what kind of homework is assigned or whether there are different effects for different demographic student groups.
Those arguments have merit, but why homework boost academic achievement?
The research cited by educators just doesn’t seem to make sense.One possible explanation for the general lack of a boost from homework is that few teachers know about this research.And most have gotten little training in how and why to assign homework.In 2016, a second-grade teacher in Texas delighted her students—and at least some of their parents—by announcing she would no longer assign homework.“Research has been unable to prove that homework improves student performance,” she explained.Even if teachers do manage to assign effective homework, it may not show up on the measures of achievement used by researchers—for example, standardized reading test scores.Those tests are designed to measure general reading comprehension skills, not to assess how much students have learned in specific classes.These are things that schools of education and teacher-prep programs typically don’t teach.So it’s quite possible that much of the homework teachers assign just isn’t particularly effective for many students.Well-educated parents are better able to provide help, the argument goes, and it’s easier for affluent parents to provide a quiet space for kids to work in—along with a computer and internet access.While those things may be true, assigning homework—or assigning ineffective homework—can end up privileging advantaged students even more.