How much homework is too much?

A report says more than 70 minutes is not beneficial, but not everyone agrees.

ST PETERSBURG, Fla. - As the school year ramps up, so does the question: How much homework is too much?

A 2013 study from Indiana University says homework is more effective for high school students, but not so much for younger students.

Other studies have shown doing math and science homework can improve test scores, but doing more than 70 minutes every night had the opposite effect.

Many viewers responded to our Facebook question “How much homework is too much,” saying schools should ease up on the amount.

But would easing up help or hurt students when it comes to preparing for STEM jobs, an industry expected to grow exponentially in the next decade?

According to Department of Labor statistics, there were nearly 8.6 million STEM jobs in May 2015.

"All those fields change dramatically and very quickly," said Jeff Eakins, Hillsborough County school superintendent. "The challenge is keeping up with the future. We're always preparing kids 6 to 8 years prior," 

Keeping up with STEM jobs and classes isn’t easy, Eakins said

“They're rigorous," he said. "We don't want to paint a rosy picture around these careers because they are demanding.”

While STEM classes do have higher workloads, Eakins says he hasn’t gotten a lot of negative feedback from parents about it because they keep balance in mind,

“There should be a range," he said. "There shouldn't be two hours of homework in elementary school. But 10 - 30 minutes would be an optimal amount of time for students to spend.”

Hillsborough County Public Schools has 28 STEM programs and are looking to expand to 45 programs, which would cost the district at least $8 million.

"Our challenges are around teacher deficits," said Larry Plank, the district's K-12 STEM program director. "We are always looking for more math, science and tech teachers. Finance is also a challenge. STEM isn't cheap and everyone knows that."

We asked viewers how much homework is too much:

Loriann Martin-Azbell: “0 homework!!! Family time is much more important..."

Yvonne Cardamone: "I think homework is a good thing. Nothing wrong with learning a little extra. Saturday and Sunday are play days."

While most comments were evenly split, a common theme among viewers was that parents need to be involved in homework time or else it’s less effective.

“Learning happens everywhere," Plank said. "At home, in cultural institutions, and at school. It happens 24 hours a day, it's valuable to us to have parents that can support learning maybe through questioning over the dinner table.”

As for the Indiana University study, researchers concluded that homework isn’t being used as best as it could be to help students learn.

A 2006 Duke University study showed a positive correlation between homework and student achievement, meaning students who did homework performed better in school.

But that study noted that the correlation was stronger for older students in seventh through twelfth grades.

© 2017 WTSP-TV


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