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Homework Should Be Banned Expert Opinion On Orphan

It’s All About Education: Should Schools Ban Homework?

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Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Lauri Lee, GoLocalProv Education Expert

 

Be honest: on a typical workday, how much work do you take home to complete in the evening? One to three hours? Every night? This is what we expect our children to do. They spend between six and seven hours every day in school, and many of them then head to after-school programs or athletics, arriving home in time to eat dinner and hopefully spend time with their families. And then they have to go to their rooms and do homework.

This fall, an elementary school in Quebec, Canada, made headlines for banning homework for all students in grades 1 – 6 (although teachers will still be able to assign reading and studying). In 2012, French president Francoise Hollande proposed eliminating homework for all primary and middle schoolers in France, and a German high school began a two-year ban on homework for its students. In an online poll titled Should Schools Ban Homework, 85% of all respondents say yes. Those who want homework banned cite long hours in school, lack of downtime and time to play outside, and high stress levels as reasons to eliminate it. Proponents of homework believe that homework provides practice, an opportunity to show responsibility, and gives teachers another measure of performance.

Is there any research on the effectiveness of homework? Believe it or not, there is plenty. Alfie Kohn, a leading expert on education and parenting, even wrote a book in 2006 outlining his findings and they may surprise you. First, there is no evidence that assigning homework to elementary school students has any positive effect on their achievement. This is true despite many years of research studies hoping to prove at least a correlation between the two.  Now, what about high school students; surely, given their higher-level math and literature courses, teenagers benefit from homework? The most recent study, published in 2012, showed that there was in fact a positive correlation between math and science homework and standardized test scores (students who did homework scored 2 – 3 points higher than their peers who did not do homework), but no correlation whatsoever between amount of time spent on homework and grades earned. If you’re still not convinced, you should know that there is little to no homework assigned in Finland, where high school graduation rates far exceed the United States’, test scores are some of the best in the world, and two-thirds of the high school graduates go on to college.

Meanwhile, there is also plenty of research on the positive effect of play on student achievement and the need for children to spend unstructured time outdoors for their healthy development. Last year, in the Atlantic Monthly article “Teach Kids to Daydream,” Jessica Lahey explained the benefits of mental downtime. If we know that creativity and inspiration often strike when the brain is “idle”, and we also know that our brains need downtime in order to work efficiently, why don’t we ensure that our children have unstructured blocks of time throughout the day (and especially at the end of the day) so that they can synthesize what they’ve learned? (By the way, Finnish elementary school students have approximately 75 minutes of recess per day.)

The answer to this question is the same reason why so many education reforms fail: it’s hard to change. It’s so much easier to do things the way we’ve always done them. Adults often argue that they did homework and they turned out fine. The idea that children and teenagers might not have something to do (or somewhere to go) every minute of the day actually scares some people. They think their children might get into trouble: after all, there’s that old adage about the devil finding work for idle hands. However, in the past few years, there has been more of a call to debunk the myth that busyness is best for business (or for school). Many researchers (and CEOs of companies like Google) have found that taking breaks and relaxing actually promotes productivity and innovation. A 2012 article in the New Statesman asserts that excessive hard work is counterproductive.

Change can be difficult, but in a world where we increasingly rely upon data, it is time to look at the data we have and make some tough choices. If we want schools and teachers to be held accountable, then our system should be held accountable, too. The knowledge we have gained from research should be incorporated into our school systems to improve education for all students, regardless of their backgrounds or their home states. Think about all the things our children might do if they weren’t wasting time on homework every day: like 17-year-old Ann Makosinski who had time to tinker, they might invent something capable of improving the lives of everyone on the planet. They might just be the next groundbreaking composer on the music scene. Or they might just have time to write poetry, play a sport they love, follow their own interests, or read books for fun, all of which are worthwhile pursuits. 

Lauri Lee is an independent consultant with over twenty years of experience in both public and private education, with learners from infants through adults. With experience in marketing, communications, social media, development, admissions, and technology, she is able to synthesize many of the issues facing our educational system today. She lives in Providence with her family, a big dog, and a small cat. She encourages you to connect with her on [email protected] or to contact her directly at [email protected] 

 


Related Slideshow: Top High Schools in Rhode Island 2014

 

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#47 Mount Pleasant

2013 Rank: #49

Enrollment: 884

Mascot: Kilties

Claim to Fame: School principal Scott Sutherland was named Rhode Island Principal of the Year in 2014 by the Rhode Island Association of School Principals.

2013 performance at a glance

Graduation rate: 57.4% (+1.1%)

District spending per pupil: $16,660

Student-teacher ratio: 12:1

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#46 Central High School

2013 Rank: #47

Enrollment: 1,101

Mascot: Knights

Claim to Fame: Providence College men's basketball coach Ed Cooley graduated from Central in 1988.

2014 performance at a glance

Graduation rate: 63.9% (+1.4%)

District spending per pupil: $16,660

Student-teacher ratio: 13:1

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#45 Woonsocket

2013 Rank: #45

Enrollment: 1,736

Mascot: Villa Novans

Claim to Fame: Part of the Urban Debate League, a community partnership between Brown University and a number of Rhode Island schools.

2014 performance at a glance

Graduation rate: 61.6% (-2.0%)

District spending per pupil: $13,560

Student-teacher ratio: 15:1

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#44 Dr. Jorge Alvarez HS

2013 Rank: #48

Enrollment: 563

Claim to Fame: An interactive online Student Action Plan to help students focus and achieve for each year of school.

2014 performance at a glance

Graduation rate: 69.0% (+1.8%)

District spending per pupil: $16,660

Student-teacher ratio: 12:1

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#43 ACE

Academy for Career Exploration

2013 Rank: #39

Enrollment: 207

Claim to Fame: At ACE, students’ four years of study culminates with a year-long Senior Internship/Project experience.

2014 Performance at a Glance

Graduation Rate: 89.7% (+22.5%)

District spending per pupil: $16,660

Student-teacher ratio: 15:1

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#42 Shea High School

2013 Rank: #45

Enrollment: 905

Mascot: Raiders

Claim to Fame: LL Cool J and Representative Patrick Kennedy both visited in 2005.

2014 performance at a glance

Graduation rate: 83.3% (+15.9%)

District spending per pupil: $12,967

Student-teacher ratio: 12:1

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#41 E-Cubed Academy

2013 Rank: #42

Enrollment: 360

Claim to Fame: A structure based on the Diploma Plus Model fosters positive relationships between parents, students, teachers, and administrators and creates powerful learning experiences that will motivate students to grow and succeed.

2014 performance at a glance

Graduation rate: 77.6% (+5.1%)

District spending per pupil: $16,660

Student-teacher ratio: 12:1

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#40 Tolman High School

2013 Rank: #40

Enrollment: 1,050

Mascot: Tigers

Claim to Fame: Famous alumni include Peter Kilmartin (Rhode Island state representative and current attorney general), Kevin Lima (Disney animator and film director of the films A Goofy Movie, Tarzan, 102 Dalmatians, Eloise at the Plaza, Eloise at Christmastime, and Enchanted), and Abraham Nathanson (developer of the game Bananagrams).

2014 performance at a glance

Graduation rate: 71.0% (+11.2%)

District spending per pupil: $12,967

Student-teacher ratio: 11:1

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#39 Providence CTA

Providence Career and Technical Academy

2013 Rank: #43

Enrollment: 568

Claim to Fame: PCTA offers 10 career and technical programs, including media arts, pastry arts, and electrical and automotive.

2014 performance at a glance

Graduation rate: 73.5% (+6.4%)

District spending per pupil: $16,660

Student-teacher ratio: 9:1

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#38 Times 2 Academy

2013 Rank: #37

Enrollment: 652

Claim to Fame: Times 2 Academy constantly exposes its students to guest speakers, internship opportunities, college fairs and job shadowing opportunities to encourage their students to embrace their futures.

2013 performance at a glance

Graduation rate: 94.6% (+4.6%)

District spending per pupil: $16,660

Student-teacher ratio: 15:1

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#37 Blackstone Academy

Blackstone Academy Charter School

2013 Rank: #36

Enrollment: 165

Claim to Fame: Blackstone Academy Charter School has partnered with more than 25 Rhode Island organizations as part of its programming.

2013 performance at a glance

Graduation rate: 87.5% (+1.0%)

District spending per pupil: $12,967

Student-teacher ratio: 11:1

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#36 Cumberland HS

2013 Rank: 33

Enrollment: 1,403

Mascot: Clippers

Claim to Fame: Famous alumni include David Macaulay (author and Caldecott Medal-winning illustrator), Aaron Fricke (gay rights activist), Johnny Goryl (MLB player for Chicago Cubs, Minnesota Twins), Jon LaRose (MLB player for Boston Red Sox), Daniel Stewart (first openly gay elected mayor in New York State history-Mayor of Plattsburgh, New York), Linda Nochlin (leading abstract expressionist artist), Peter and Bobby John Farrelly (film directors, producers, authors), Suzanne Martin (Emmy-award winning television producer), and Annette Nazareth (a Commissioner of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission).

2013 performance at a glance

Graduation rate: 85.1% (+4.0%)

District spending per pupil: $11,006

Student-teacher ratio: 13:1

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#35 East Providence HS

2013 Rank: #32

Enrollment: 1,564

Mascot: Townies

Claim to Fame: Famous alumni include  Jamie Silva (Indianapolis Colts free safety), Claudia Jordan (model and reality TV star), T.J. Del Santo (Meterologist at WPRI-TV), Brent Martineau (Sportscaster), David Franklin (Scientist/Entrepreneur), Kim Schifino (Musician in Matt and Kim), Jennifer Lee (co-writer of Disney’s Wreck It Ralph).

2013 performance at a glance

Graduation rate: 73.9% (+4.6%)

District spending per pupil: $14,206

Student-teacher ratio: 12:1

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#34 Central Falls HS

2013 Rank: #41

Enrollment: 838

Mascot: Warriors

Claim to Fame: Central Fall’s Chess Team has experienced incredible success and finished in the top 10 at a national tournament that had over 5,000 competitors, as well as receiving funding from star powerhouses such as Alec Baldwin’s Foundation.

2013 performance at a glance

Graduation rate: 73.8% (+3.0%)

District spending per pupil: $19,886

Student-teacher ratio: 9:1

Photo Credit: John Phelan
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#33 Walsh School

Jacqueline M. Walsh School for the Performing and Visual Arts

2013 Rank: #23

Enrollment: 167

Claim to Fame: The schools shares prestigious artistic patnerships with RISD, Sandra-Feinstein Gamm Theatre, Fusionworks Dance Company, Athletics, Pawtucket Boys and Girls Club, Rhode Island Philharmonic Music School, and Aurea.

2013 performance at a glance

Graduation rate: 79.7% (-20.3%)

District spending per pupil: $12,967

Student-teacher ratio: 11:1

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#32 Cranston HS East

2013 Rank: #35

Enrollment: 1,587

Mascot: Thunderbolts

Claim to Fame: Famous athletic alumni include Tom Mellow (played in the NHL, won a silver medal at the 1972 Olympics), Vinny Pazienza (former World Champion professional boxer), Mike Stenhouse (played in the MLB for the Expos and Boston Red Sox), Curt Bennett (an All-Star NHL player), Joe Cavanagh (Captained Harvard University’s hockey and tennis teams), Ray Jamieson (Oakland Raider’s fullback), Greg Oden (New England Champion Springboard Diver).

2013 performance at a glance

Graduation rate: 78.5% (%)

District spending per pupil: $13,646

Student-teacher ratio: 11:1

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#31 Burrillville HS

2013 Rank: #27

Enrollment: 700

Mascot: Broncos

Claim to Fame: The school offers interesting clubs such as Dead Poet’s Society and Mountain Biking Club.

2013 performance at a glance

Graduation rate: 85.3% (-1.5%)

District spending per pupil: $12,446

Student-teacher ratio: 11:1

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#30 The Met School

2013 Rank: #34

Enrollment: 868

Claim to Fame: The school offers a Entrepreneur 360 Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship is a 60-hour program for students supported by NFTE.  Students learn about the concepts and the skills necessary to create  a business, sharpen their work ethic and help grow their confidence.

2013 performance at a glance

Graduation rate: 78.2% (-2.9%%)

District spending per pupil: $16,660

Student-teacher ratio: 10:1

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#29 Beacon Charter School

Beacon Charter HS for the Arts

2013 Rank: #31

Enrollment: 230

Claim to Fame: The school honors “Beacon Charter High Artists of the Year” to students that demonstrate a passion and prowess for the arts.

2013 performance at a glance

Graduation rate: 94.8% (+18.1%)

District spending per pupil: $13,560

Student-teacher ratio: 11:1

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#28 Cranston HS West

2013 Rank: #30

Enrollment: 1,629

Mascot: Falcons

Claim to Fame: Famous alumni include Mark van Eeghen (former NFL Pro Bowl running back and the only person ever from Cranston West to have their number retired in any sport), Anthony Meo (baseball player), Jeff Diehl (baseball player), Tom Denucci (actor), Amber van Eeghen (former cheerleader for the New England Patriots).

2013 performance at a glance

Graduation rate: 92.5% (+4.0%)

District spending per pupil: $13,646

Student-teacher ratio: 12:1

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#27 West Warwick HS

2013 Rank: #26

Enrollment: 982

Mascot: Wizards

Claim to Fame: The school sports a School Improvement Team that brings staff, students, community members, and parents together once a month to have their voices heard concerning how the school can be tailored for success.

2013 performance at a glance

Graduation rate: 74% (-2.2%)

District spending per pupil: $15,146

Student-teacher ratio: 10:1

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#26 Coventry HS

2013 Rank: #24

Enrollment: 1,694

Mascot: Oakers

Claim to Fame: WCVY 91.5 FM is the school’s own student-operated rock radio station that continues to expand.

2013 performance at a glance

Graduation rate: 89.5% (+5.9%)

District spending per pupil: $12,600

Student-teacher ratio: 10:1

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#25 Johnston HS

2013 Rank: #22

Enrollment: 903

Mascot: Panthers

Claim to Fame: Famous alums include reality TV star and celebrity Paul (DJ Pauly D) DelVecchnio.

2013 performance at a glance

Graduation rate: 85.3% (%)

District spending per pupil: $16,954

Student-teacher ratio: 10:1

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#24 North Providence HS

2013 Rank: #28

Enrollment: 998

Mascot: Cougars

Claim to Fame: Famous alumni include Ernie DiGregorio (basketball player, played for PC and holds the NBA assist record for a single game with 25).

2013 performance at a glance

Graduation rate: 87.4% (-5.2%)

District spending per pupil: $15,004

Student-teacher ratio: 10:1

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#23 Pilgrim High School

2013 Rank: #21

Enrollment: 1,078

Mascot: Patriots

Claim to Fame: Famous alumni include James Woods (Emmy-award winning actor), Chris Terreri (College All-American, Olympian, and two time Stanley Cup winning NHL goalie), Patrick Sheehan (PGA professional golfer), Dan Wheeler (Major League Baseball pitcher).   

2013 performance at a glance

Graduation rate: 80.3% (+0.8%)

District spending per pupil: $16,321

Student-teacher ratio: 10:1

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#22 Davies Career & Tech

William M. Davies Career and Technical High School

2013 Rank: #29

Enrollment: 833 

Mascot: Patriots

Claim to Fame: Davies ensures that Parents are heavily involved in the curriculum through the Parent Involvement Policy, which is a program supporting the development, implementation, and regular evaluation that includes parents in all grade levels.

2013 performance at a glance

Graduation rate: 80.7% (+5.4%)

District spending per pupil: $15,491

Student-teacher ratio: 9:1

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#21 Ponaganset HS

2013 Rank: #17

Enrollment: 722

Mascot: Chieftains

Claim to Fame: The school is heated entirely by recycled wood chips in order to preserve the environment. The school also sports an Energy Lab that enables students to develop career pathways in stem agriculture. Their colors are green, and so is their mindset.

2013 performance at a glance

Graduation rate: 93.2% (+0.6%)

District spending per pupil: $13,387

Student-teacher ratio: 11:1

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#20 Warwick Veterans HS

Warwick Veterans Memorial High School

2013 Rank: #25

Enrollment: 999

Mascot: Hurricanes

Claim to Fame: Famous alumni include Bill Almon (baseball player) and Damian Constantino (baseball player, holds NCAA record holder with hits in 60 consecutive games).  

2013 performance at a glance

Graduation rate: 77.3% (-4.1%)

District spending per pupil: $16,321

Student-teacher ratio: 9:1

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#19 Classical High School

2013 Rank: #13

Enrollment: 1113

Mascot: Purples

Claim to Fame: Famous alumni include John Orlando Pastore (Former Governor of Rhode Island, US Senator), S. J. Perelman (American Humorist) Bruce Sundlun (Former Governor of RI), Rudolph Fisher (pioneering Black radiologist and writer of the Harlem Renaissance), Irving R. Levine (Former NBC News Economics Correspondent), Frank Licht (Former Governor of RI), George Macready (American actor), A.O. Scott (Chief New York Times Movie Critic), Stanley Fish (Literary theorist and legal scholar), Michael Kang (Filmmaker), C. M. Eddy, Jr. (Renowned Author), Lauren Corrao (Comedy Central executive; helped develop That '70s Show and Mad TV for Fox),William A. Barnett (Economist), Robin Green (Emmy and Golden Globe Award-winning television producer for The Sopranos and Northern Exposure, among others), S. Hastings Richardson (Author) Alexander Knight (Poet), Angel Taveras (First Latino Mayor of Providence).

2013 performance at a glance

Graduation rate: 96.1% (+0.2%)

District spending per pupil: $16,660

Student-teacher ratio: 14:1

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#18 Toll Gate HS

2013 Rank: #19

Enrollment: 982

Mascot: Titans

Claim to Fame: Janice Anderson (Assistant Production Manager of Cirque de Soleil), Tom Cavanagh (Forward, Worcester Sharks), Sara DeCosta (Goalie, 1998 and 2002 U.S. Women’s Olympic Hockey Team),Tony Petrarca (Chief Meteorologist, WPRI-TV), Brian Shanley (President of Providence College), David Petrarca (Director whose work has included Big Love, True Blood, and Hung for HBO; over 40 world premieres including Marvin’s Room on Broadway and West End, Fuddy Meers in NYC, and A Year With Frog and Toad on Broadway).

2013 performance at a glance

Graduation rate: 75.9% (-9.6%)

District spending per pupil: $16,321

Student-teacher ratio: 10:1

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#17 North Kingstown HS

2013 Rank: #14

Enrollment: 1,454

Mascot: Skippers

Claim to Fame: The Skippers won 8 awards at the 2014 Cox Rhode Island Sports Awards.

2013 performance at a glance

Graduation rate: 90.9% (+2.9%)

District spending per pupil: $13,983

Student-teacher ratio: 12:1

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#16 Mt. Hope HS

2013 Rank: #11

Enrollment: 1,039

Mascot: Huskies

Claim to Fame: Students have the opportunity to bask in the spotlight in the Husky News Network, a student news organization where students can serve as anchors, camera men, and content writers.

2013 performance at a glance

Graduation rate: 89.9% (+1.8%)

District spending per pupil: $14,817

Student-teacher ratio: 11:1

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#15 Tiverton HS

2013 Rank: #18

Enrollment: 570

Mascot: Tigers

Claim to Fame: A Tiverton HS student was named Rhode Island Foreign Language Association Student of the Year in 2013.

2013 performance at a glance

Graduation rate: 87.7% (+2.2%)

District spending per pupil: $14,444

Student-teacher ratio: 9:1

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#14 Rogers HS

2013 Rank: #20

Enrollment: 587

Mascot: Vikings

Claim to Fame: Famous alums including Bebe Buell (model, singer, mother of actress Liv Tyler), The Cowsills (family singing act that was the inspiration for TV’s The Partridge Family), Tanya Donelly (co-founder and guitarist of the band Throwing Muses), Joanna Going (actress) Paul Gordon (keyboardist and guitarist for the B-52’s and the Goo Goo Dolls), Kristin Hersh (co-founder of Throwing Muses), P.H. Horgan III (PGA Tour player), Van Johnson (actor), John Mellekas (professional football player), David Narcizo (drummer for the band Throwing Muses), M. Teresa Paiva-Weed (President of the Rhode Island Senate), Jerry Sullivan (sports columnist at The Buffalo News), Noah Jewell (Olympic gymnast).

2013 performance at a glance

Graduation rate: 68.2% (-14.2%)

District spending per pupil: $19,855

Student-teacher ratio: 9:1

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#13 Smithfield HS

2013 Rank: #16

Enrollment: 772

Mascot: Sentinels

Claim to Fame: Students have the opportunity to work in The Confucius Classroom, a public educational institute established in collaboration with the Confucius Institute at Bryant University under the sponsorship of Hanban. The classroom is dedicated to developing globally competent students through an understanding Chinese culture, language, and economic trends. 

2013 performance at a glance

Graduation rate: 89.1% (-3.0%)

District spending per pupil: $13,943

Student-teacher ratio: 10:1

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#12 North Smithfield HS

2013 Rank: #15

Enrollment: 550

Mascot: Northmen

Claim to Fame: The Outstanding Music program was a 2013 semi-finalist for the Grammy Signature School Award.

2013 performance at a glance

Graduation rate: 87.2% (-4.7%)

District spending per pupil: $12,725

Student-teacher ratio: 9:1

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#11 Lincoln Senior HS

2013 Rank: #9

Enrollment: 1,067

Mascot: Lions

Claim to Fame: Holds an annual show called The Variety Show, entirely student run, which showcases the talents of the student body.

2013 performance at a glance

Graduation rate: 91.2% (+6.4%)

District spending per pupil: $15,491

Student-teacher ratio: 11:1

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#10 Chariho Regional HS

2013 Rank: #6

Enrollment: 1,136

Mascot: Chargers

Claim to Fame: An aggressive academic program provides students with the opportunity to choose from 13 Advanced Placement courses.

2013 performance at a glance

Graduation rate: 87.4% (-1.9%)

District spending per pupil: $15,520

Student-teacher ratio: 10:1

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#9 Portsmouth HS

2013 Rank: #12

Enrollment: 974

Mascot: Patriots

Claim to Fame: The high school band was invited to President Obama's 2013 Inaugural Parade in Washington, DC.

2013 performance at a glance

Graduation rate: 90.5% (+1.3%)

District spending per pupil: $13,050

Student-teacher ratio: 10:1

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#8 Middletown HS

2013 Rank: #8

Enrollment: 737

Mascot: Islanders

Claim to Fame: Middletown High School has enacted a specific Professional Learning Community in 2013, a program geared to make fundamental shift from focusing on teaching to an area of learning where students and teachers collaborate.

2013 performance at a glance

Graduation rate: 90.2% (+16.4%)

District spending per pupil: $13,758

Student-teacher ratio: 10:1

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#7 Westerly HS

2013 Rank: #7

Enrollment: 941

Mascot: Bulldogs

Claim to Fame: Famous alumni include Dr. Thomas DiPaola (Education leader in RI), Henry Nardone, Sr. (Member of URI Foundation, RI Board of Regents), Dennis Algiere (Current RI Senate Minority Leader), Dr. John Toscano, (Chairman of Dept. of Chemistry at Johns Hopkins University), Daryl Finizio (Lawyer, New London Mayoral candidate, Westerly City Council), Peter Lewiss (RI State rep, judge, lawyer) Diana Blanda (Actress/Singer).

2013 performance at a glance

Graduation rate: 91.1% (+2.7%)

District spending per pupil: $15,993

Student-teacher ratio: 10:1

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#6 Scituate HS

2013 Rank: #10

Enrollment: 491

Mascot: Spartans

Claim to Fame: Scituate High School’s “Schools for Schools” club has raised thousands of dollars for Invisible Children to help Uganda defeat the children soldier crisis there.  

2013 performance at a glance

Graduation rate: 88.2% (-2.4%)

District spending per pupil: $13,394

Student-teacher ratio: 9:1

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#5 Barrington HS

2013 Rank: #5

Enrollment: 1037

Mascot: Eagles

Claim to Fame:Famous alumni include Bill Reynolds (Providence Journal Sports Columnist), Phil Madeira (Award-winning Songwriter/Musician), Judy Clapp (Recording Engineer who has worked with Dwight Yoakham and Bill Frisell) Brian Howe (film and television actor) Marceline Hugot (a film, television and Broadway actress) Brett Quigley (PGA golfer) Shanna Moakler (Former Miss USA, Playboy Magazine model and ex-wife of Blink-182 drummer Travis Barker/star of MTV’s Meet The Barkers), Spalding Gray (Monologuist/Actor) Matthew Broome (New England Amateur Golf Champion). 

2013 performance at a glance

Graduation rate: 95.6% (-1.0%)

District spending per pupil: $12,681

Student-teacher ratio: 12:1

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#4 Exeter/West Greenwich

Exeter-West Greenwich Regional High School

2013 Rank: #3

Enrollment: 562

Mascot: Scarlet Knights

Claim to Fame: Exeter/West Greenwich has never been ranked outside of the top 4 in GoLocalProv's Top High Schools rankings.

2013 performance at a glance

Graduation rate: 92.5% (+6.1%)

District spending per pupil: $16,327

Student-teacher ratio: 9:1

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#3 East Greenwich HS

2013 Rank: #2

Enrollment: 766

Mascot: Avengers

Claim to Fame:  Famous alumni include Donald Carcieri (Governor of RI), Suzanne Carcieri (First Lady of RI), Debra Messing (Actress), Mark Zito (Radio Host) and Leeann Tingley (2006 Miss Rhode Island USA).

2013 performance at a glance

Graduation rate: 92.6% (-2.5%)

District spending per pupil: $14,101

Student-teacher ratio: 10:1

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#2 South Kingstown HS

2013 Rank: #4

Enrollment: 1095

Mascot: Rebels

Claim to Fame: Famous alumni include Jhumpa Lahiri (Author). 

2013 performance at a glance

Graduation rate: 89.7% (+6.2%)

District spending per pupil: $17,281

Student-teacher ratio: 9:1

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Narragansett HS

2013 Rank: #1

Enrollment: 462

Mascot: Mariners

Claim to Fame: Famous alumni include David Cicilline (US Congressman and former Mayor of Providence) and John DeCubellis (lawyer/judge, General Counsel to National Education Association RI).

2013 performance at a glance

Graduation rate: 90.8% (+4.2%)

District spending per pupil: $18,163

Student-teacher ratio: 8:1

 

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Does homework help? Only if it's the right homework, expert says

By Jonathan Hepburn and Paige Cockburn

Posted August 24, 2016 19:47:50

Homework is not useless but its quality is far more important than quantity and schools should think very carefully about why they are setting it, an education expert at the University of South Australia says.

Over the past week an anti-homework note sent to parents by a teacher in Forth Worth, Texas, has spread around the world after being posted to Facebook by a parent.

"After much research this summer, I am trying something new," the note from Mrs Brandy Young, which has been shared more than 70,000 times, says.

"Homework will only consist of work that your student did not finish during the school day. There will be no formally assigned homework this year."

The note goes on to say that research has been unable to prove that homework improves student performance.

Instead, Mrs Young urges parents to spend their evenings doing things like reading together, playing outside, and getting their children to bed early, which "are proven to correlate with student success."

Not surprisingly, the note was posted to Facebook with the comment "Brooke is loving her new teacher already!"

External Link: Facebook no-homework note

Good homework is 'purposeful, specific, and reinforces learning'

However, "she's not quite right," says Brendan Bentley, a PhD candidate and lecturer in the Education Department of the University of South Australia.

In 2006, a review of American research conducted between 1987 and 2003 found that "there was generally consistent evidence for a positive influence of homework on achievement."

The review, led by Dr Harris Cooper of Duke University, found that evidence was stronger for students in grades seven to 12 than for kindergarten to grade six, and for when students, rather than parents, reported how much time they spent doing homework.

On the other hand, in 2013, Australian academics Richard Walker and Mike Horsley published Reforming Homework, in which they reviewed international research and found that for young primary school children, homework is of little or no value and students are regularly given too much.

The issue is that although if you do something more often you get better at it, you have to be doing the right thing in the first place.

"Homework has to be purposeful, specific, and reinforce learning. If it's just to finish work, that may not help the student at all," Mr Bentley said.

In fact, too much homework can be worse than useless: It can be detrimental.

"For students in grades three or four, more than 20 minutes of homework can exhaust them. They go into cognitive load, and their ability to learn goes into a decline," Mr Bentley said.

"They can develop a negative attitude towards learning. It's about getting the balance right."

Cognitive load refers to the total amount of mental effort being used: a heavy cognitive load creates errors or interference.

That 20 minutes is not a guideline for each day: "There needs to be a good argument for having homework every single night," Mr Bentley said.

"Schools have to understand why they are giving homework. Without a good purpose and a rationale: Reconsider it."

He says that homework can be ramped up as students get older, but even in grade 10, research shows that, "if it's more than an hour, it's a waste of time."

Designing effective homework also depends upon how much the student is able to learn.

"Adults can learn about seven things at a time. For young children, that's maybe two or three," Mr Bentley said. "You only need 20 minutes to reinforce that."

However, he says the benefits of homework are not just about reinforcing learning, and that if it does not turn students off, it can teach important study habits.

He agrees that family time and relaxation can be more important than homework.

"Developing good habits and attitudes through interaction with parents can be good — every time you interact with your children, you are teaching assumptions," he said.

On the other hand, too much homework can lead to conflicts with parents.

"Parents are keen for their children to be the best, so they may ask about homework, and may do it for their children, which defeats the purpose," Mr Bentley said.

Topics:education, children, secondary-schools, primary-schools, schools, youth, australia

Key points:

  • Academics agree that too much homework can harm learning
  • Good homework is 'purposeful, specific, and reinforces learning'
  • Time spent with family after school can be more important than more study

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