Marion County reduces homework for elementary school students

Superintendent Heidi Maier cites research for decision

OCALA, Fla. – Homework, schmomework.

Elementary school students in Marion County won't have to worry about doing homework, at least not every night.

Marion County Superintendent Heidi Maier on Wednesday issued a mandate to teachers at the district's 31 elementary schools notifying them to not assign daily homework assignments, Marion County Public Schools spokesman Kevin Christian said.

Maier's decision was based on research that shows students perform better when given a break from the rigors of a typical school day.

The study, conducted by Richard Allington, a University of Tennessee professor of theory and practice in teacher education, found that reading to a child has more positive effects than homework.

"The research showed that students who are given a preponderance of homework do not perform better, or get better grades, than those who do not," Maier noted.

Parents will be asked to read with their children for 20 minutes every night, school officials said.

"What we want to happen is for that child to choose a reading source that they're really interested in. That expands their mind and their vocabulary and it helps them improve their phonics which is so important in a younger age," Christian said.

Christian said some assignments, like science projects or research papers, will be assigned on occasion, but daily homework will not be a part of the district's plan.

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News 6 reached out to the surrounding public school districts to see if they would consider a similar ban.

At Flagler County schools, there are no plans to do away with homework at elementary schools. However, the district created a "homework committee" to examine the homework loads for elementary school students.

"Based on their input, we are currently re-examining our policies and procedures and may very well lessen the homework load in the future, although it will not be eliminated," Flagler County Schools spokesman Jason Wheeler said.

Seminole County Public Schools spokesman Michael Lawrence said the district has also examined homework implementation.

"Several years ago our Superintendent and School Board had discussions streamlining homework to ensure it was tied to curriculum and the focused standards, but we have not had any discussions about doing away with homework outright," Lawrence said.

Lake County officials said there are no plans to do so.

News 6 will update this story when the other school districts respond.

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