Skipping homework doesn't fix education

Lafayette Parish School Board

by | Jul 20, 2018 | LPSS | 0 comments

What does 49th in education look like? In a recent news article on KATC, the Lafayette Public School Board, by a 7-1 vote, approved a new Pupil Progression Plan that forbids teachers from grading homework and prevents them from issuing a failing test grade to students who are caught cheating. As with many decisions in our modern political realm, this one appears to have more to do with optics than results.

Under the old policy, homework as ten percent of the overall score can help to push a diligent student’s letter grade higher. While the current policy means mastery will only become evident a test time, graded homework can be an incremental gauge. It provides teachers with invaluable insight into both individual and collective students’ progress. Homework also impacts test grades, as it serves to reinforce what was learned in class each day. Not grading homework may have an attractive, short-term benefit, but in the long-term, it encourages students to not review or prepare.

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If we continue to judge the success of the entire system by the marks of its student collective, then we can expect policy to follow. On the cheating issue, the administration appears to be more interested in increasing their scores than they are in teaching children. An F for cheating lowers scores but disciplinary action, such as a suspension, doesn’t.

While a teacher making these kinds calls on a case-by-case basis might make sense, mandating such minutia from on high only serves to create a single point of failure. It also reduces the creative space in which a teacher is allowed to operate. That doesn’t help students to improve. Instead, it limits the ability of our most innovative teachers to perform at their best.

Perhaps a better plan would be to allow teachers the freedom to run their own classroom and make their own policies regarding these and other issues. By so doing, successful teachers who stand out can be analyzed and the sources of their success identified and passed on. In the business world, this is how best practices are established and tweaked over time.

So, next time you hear that we don’t spend enough on our education system, remember that increasing rules and regulations only causes operations to become unwieldy and more expensive. If innovation is key, then let our teachers innovate.

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Here’s the original news report from KATC:

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