Wilton school board to revise 20-year-old homework policy

Wilton Public Schools has updated its 20-year-old homework policy.

Wilton Public Schools has updated its 20-year-old homework policy.

File photo

WILTON — A homework policy that spent two years in limbo was presented to the Wilton Board of Education on Thursday. Should the board approve it at its next meeting, it will be the first policy change in 20 years, Assistant Superintendent Charles Smith said.

Smith said he convened a homework committee two years ago that looked at common practices and researched homework theories and policies. As the pandemic took hold, their work was put aside, he said.

When it was moved back to the front burner, the result was striking “quite a bit of the old,” and replacing it, he said, “with language that really defines homework and the importance of it.”

The impetus for updating the policy, he said, came from students.

“We became concerned about the impact homework was having on the well-being of students,” he said, noting the policy hadn’t been looked at since 1999.

“There’s quite a diversity of opinions about homework, but I think we came up with something really good,” he said.

Along with the policy, which the board will vote on, Smith presented an accompanying homework regulation, which the board does not vote on. The policy is a general outline and the regulation spells out why, how and when homework is to be assigned and the responsibilities of students, teachers, school principals and parents.

According to the new regulation, homework assignments must be meaningful and engaging. They may reinforce learning or allow students to practice skills. They may prepare students for new in-classroom learning or participation in classroom activities.

“High quality homework should be motivating and engaging, and whenever possible, should over time include a combination of required and optional assignments,” the regulation says.

It is the student’s responsibility to keep track of their assignments and manage their time in order to complete them, and to ask for help when necessary, it states.

Teachers may not assign homework during religious observances and at the elementary level it may only be assigned Monday through Thursday. Homework assignments at the middle and high school level that are given on Fridays may not exceed one-day’s assignment. Assignments given over school breaks must be announced several days in advance and are not to be due back the day students return, according to the policy.

Homework should not be given as a punishment, the policy says.

Time allotted for homework varies by grade. Students in kindergarten should receive no homework. After that, it is 10 minutes per grade level, from 10 minutes for first grade to 90 minutes for ninth grade. Students in grades 10 to 12 may receive 100 to 120 minutes of homework. This does not include time to practice musical instruments.

Students who elect to take more than one AP course may have heavier homework assignments.

To that end, the regulation advises students that in choosing which courses they take and which extracurricular activities they sign up for, they should keep the amount of homework in mind “to maintain a healthy lifestyle.”