Los Alamitos Schools Consider Overhauling Homework Policy

By Carol Cassis
Carol Cassis
Carol Cassis
June 24, 2022 Updated: June 26, 2022

LOS ALAMITOS, Calif.—Emphasizing “quality over quantity,” the Los Alamitos School Board announced preliminary plans on June 14 to limit homework for all students, with mixed opinions pouring in from both parents and teachers.

Under the proposed policy, elementary and middle schoolers would not be assigned homework over weekends, while those in high school would likely have none over breaks. Details are still being discussed, with further specifics yet to be announced and approved.

The rationale for the policy, according to school board members, stems from reported “difficulties” faced by both students and staff following COVID-19 restrictions and “modified” learning, largely from having to quarantine.

“School breaks are really purposeful … they’re set to give students [and staff] an opportunity to re-charge,” School Board President Diana Hill said during the June 14 school board meeting. “Our staff are feeling overwhelmed … it’s very overwhelming returning back to this post-pandemic world of education.”

Epoch Times Photo
Los Alamitos Unified School District offices in Los Alamitos, Calif., on May 11, 2021. (John Fredricks/The Epoch Times)

The policy further outlines that elementary-aged students in grades K–5 will only be assigned 10 minutes of homework per day for each consecutive year as they make their way through primary school. For example, first grade will only be assigned 10 minutes maximum of homework Monday through Thursday, second graders with a maximum of 20 minutes, and so forth.

Parents expressed mixed reviews on the new policy, with some praising the new framework as providing students with a positive “balance” between their academic and home lives.

“I actually like the idea of no homework over weekends and vacations. I think it’s a great balance between school and life,” Lee Elementary parent Joseph Sardinios told The Epoch Times.

Others were less enthusiastic, voicing concern that the policy may weaken students’ ability to prepare for higher studies.

“This just feels like another ‘feelings-based’ approach to teaching. I’m all for better work-life balance, but homework is also supposed to teach kids time management,” a Los Alamitos High School parent told The Epoch Times on the condition they remain anonymous. “All this will do is make college and work that much harder to adjust to.”

The policy does not, however, affect homework loads in high school honors and Advanced-Placement level courses, since the amount of homework assigned in these classes is determined by the College Board, an over 100-year-old non-profit designed to aid students seeking admission to college.

Furthermore, the policy outlines that homework also will not be assigned during standardized testing for grades 3 through 8, or during finals for high school students. It does allow for homework “directly” tied to prep for high school semester finals up to one week before finals.

“I’m all for no mandatory homework,” McAuliffe Middle School parent Amy Johannes said. “My son had way too much homework this year, it actually hurt his grades.”

Questions remain, however, regarding how the district and instructors will determine the amount of work assigned under the timing as outlined in the new policy.

“Who is doing the homework to decide what takes 0 to 25 min on average?” One parent wrote on the district’s Facebook group when the new policy was announced. “I always wonder how an average is determined when it comes to assignments because I feel like some people think something shouldn’t take as long as it does.”

Epoch Times Photo
Los Alamitos Elementary School on Aug. 21, 2020. (John Fredricks/The Epoch Times)

Two instructors at Los Alamitos High School told The Epoch Times on condition of anonymity that the amount of homework assigned prior to the district’s policy depends largely on the individual teacher assigning the work, as well as the subject matter for the class.

For example, two sophomore-year world history teachers will “likely” assign differing amounts of homework depending on their teaching style and philosophy.

“Lately I give my classes more class time to finish their work so it doesn’t roll over into homework,” a Los Alamitos High School teacher said. “But some of my colleagues think longer form work [like study guides] must be completed on students’ own time. So it really depends.”

In short, the district announced the following parameters as guidelines for the average time spent on homework for each grade level:

For students in Kindergarten through grade 2, homework should not exceed 30 to 45 minutes per day. Upper elementary students (grades 3 to 5) are not recommended to exceed 1 to 2 hours per day.

For middle school students, homework should not normally exceed 1 to 2 hours per academic subject per week.

For high school students, homework should not exceed 2 to 3 hours per academic subject per week.

Carol Cassis