Homework, Dropouts And More

Monday, March 19, 2007

A new review of research on homework says there is no conclusive evidence that homework "increases student achievement across the board."

The review, by the National School Boards Association's Center for Public Education, said that students from low-income homes might not benefit as much as those from higher-income homes. The possible reasons: The latter have more resources, including computers, and help with their work.

Research on the most effective amount of time students should spend on homework is limited, it said, but what is available shows that high school students should put in between 1 1/2 and 2 1/2 hours; middle school students, less than 1 hour a night.

When kids spend more time than this, the positive effects on student achievement diminish, the report states. As for elementary school students, there is no evidence showing a link between homework and student achievement.

The report is at

· The latest national statistics on high school dropouts show that about five of every 100 students enrolled in high school in October 2003 left before October 2004 without completing the program, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.

Since 1972, dropout rates have gone down, according to the new report, from 6.1 percent in 1972 to 4.7 percent in 2004, although the decline occurred primarily between 1972 and 1990.

Dropping out of high school is related to a number of negative outcomes, it said. For example, the median income of high school dropouts age 18 and over was $12,184 in 2003, while the median income of those age 18 and over who completed their education with a high school credential (including a GED certificate) was $20,431.

According to the report, the West and the South registered higher dropout rates than the Northeast and the Midwest -- 6.1 percent, 5.4 percent, 3.8 percent and 3.1 percent, respectively.

The report is available at

· Eighteen percent of public schools reported that bad acoustics or noise control interfered with their ability to deliver instruction in portable buildings and 12 percent in permanent buildings, according to a survey released by the National Center for Education Statistics.

The survey, for fall 2005, rated how environmental factors affect teaching. Among the findings were problems with:

Air conditioning: 16 percent in permanent buildings, 11 percent in portables.

Indoor air quality: 12 percent in portable buildings, 9 percent in permanent buildings.

Size or configuration of rooms: 16 percent in portables, 13 percent in permanent buildings.

The report is available at

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