Juda High School teacher finds success with no homework policy
JUDA, Wis. — A Juda High School math teacher uses a different teaching method than most other educators.
The standard for homework around the country is 10 minutes a night per grade level. For example, 30 minutes for a third grader and two hours for a high school senior.
In Scott Anderson’s classroom, things work a little differently. He doesn’t assign students any homework. Instead, students work for the entire class period on math skill sets.
“It’s the expectation,” Anderson said. “They worked up to almost within seconds of the next bell.”
Anderson switched to this teaching method two years ago when test scores were down and valuable class time was wasted.
“I am a complete traditionalist reformed,” Anderson said. “I literally started my career assigning 30 homework problems every day.”
Anderson assigned less and less homework, until he stopped altogether.
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“We were probably just like every other average school, and we have a large portion of outgoing seniors who weren’t qualifying for college credit math,” Anderson said. “We were no better, no worse and since I am the department, I said, ‘This has to change.'”
Now, Anderson’s goal for his students is zero remediation at the next level.
“When a student goes to college, they are taking college credit math. If they are an engineer, they are taking calculus. If they’re a business major, they are taking elementary algebra, but whatever those skills they need to have, they have,” Anderson said.
Anderson said test scores prove this method works.
“We have been able to document the improvement of our student body moving roughly 30 percent not ready for college math to almost 100 percent are ready,” Anderson said.
Juda School District Superintendent Traci Davis and Anderson studied the effect homework has on students.
“There is a little bit of correlation in math that homework is a little positive,” Anderson said.
Ultimately, though, Anderson and Davis thought the switch was the best move for their school.
“It’s finding a balance between work all day at school,” Davis said. “(Anderson) uses that class time very wisely, and (the students) are learning all hour when they are in there, so that the homework, maybe isn’t as necessary a piece.”
Juda High School is a small school and most students are a part of sports and clubs. Plus, it’s a rural area and not all students have access to the internet at home.
“You’ve made a gigantic assumption when you assigned it about the student’s ability, availability, socioeconomic conditions,” Anderson said. “Is it fair that I assign 10 problems in a book? Maybe they can take it home. Maybe they don’t have a job.”
Grades are based on quizzes and tests, which students can retake as many times as needed.
“You build a culture of math is failure. It’s working your way from a wrong answer to a right answer, but we control it. We don’t let it become a frustration,” Anderson said.
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