Does Homework really work for students?

LAUREL, Md - After sitting in class all day, the last thing seventh grader Micah Carey wants to do is open up a book.  All of his hard work powered him through his struggles with science.

"We've had science homework that I needed help on so I could just ask the teacher and she would help me," said  Micah Carey, seventh grader Murray Hill Middle School.

"Why do kids need to work a second shift when they get home on academic assignments," said Alfie Kohn, Author.

Alfie Kohn is the author of 12 books about education and human behavior including: "The Homework Myth."  He travels the country offering lectures about whether Homework really is necessary.

Kohn says six hours of studying at school is enough. Kids should use after school time to explore other interests and relax.

"The nagging the fact that parents have been away from their kids and the first thing out of their mouth is 'Do you have any Homework?' How sad is that,"  said Kohn.

They don't think it's sad at Murray Hill Middle School with Howard County Public Schools.  They are making Homework work.

It's all part of  "After School at the Hill."  It's a Homework Club for middle school students.  It's one of the largest enrollment After School Programs in the state.  Micah appreciates the help.

"When you are in the after school program you can have your teachers help you because they know what your homework is and especially if you are in that teachers class for your Homework so they can help you if you don't understand," said Carey.

"You need to know that they have a good foundation of learning and what their skill set is and do I need to study extra here and do I need more comprehensive notes for my classes.  I do think Homework gives them a good foundation for when they move on further in school," said Jacqueline Carey, mother of Micah Carey.

Once the final school bell rings, students report to assigned classrooms with teachers.  Students complete homework in everything from science, Math, English and Reading.

The After School Program has 280 students enrolled. This is 40 percent of the student body population at the school.

"We out gained more than 3,000 schools in the state of Maryland.  We believe part of the reason is because of our focus on homework that is if students do not acquire things in class,  they will acquire them through homework," said Donyall Dickey, Principal  at Murray Hill Middle School.

Donyall Dickey became Principal at Murray Hill Middle School in 2007.  He recently published 12 books on the Common Core State Standards.  He also wrote a book called "Integrated Approach to Student Achievement."

Shortly after he took over, the schools state assessment scores shot up in 2008.

"I've always been Principal of schools that needed some level of improvement.  I can always attach the value of Homework to that subsequent improvement," said Dickey.

A Montgomery County Public School does not have homework. Gaithersburg Elementary School eliminated Homework.  Students read a book for 30 minutes a night.  Educators say it has been a huge success with students and families.

For the kids at Murray Hill Middle School, they will continue spending their afternoons tackling homework together in the club. 

After School at the Hill is part of the 21st Century Community Learning Center, which is federally funded.


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