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Orange schools have new homework policy

The Orange County School Board has adopted a new policy on homework, intended to add consistency to how the work is assigned and graded within all county schools.

Calling the action “a literal rewrite of our homework policy and the related regulation,” Schools Superintendent Bob Grimesey recommended that the board adopt the change at its meeting this week. The board then passed it unanimously.

Grimesey said the changes grew out of the system’s parent advisory and teacher advisory committees, and had generated “substantial local interest.”

Director of Elementary Instruction Bill Berry and Director of Secondary Instruction Linda Carlton said officials had received complaints about inconsistencies in how late homework was handled, even by teachers teaching the same grade level at the same school.

“One of the things that we had heard a lot of discontent about was the grading of late work, the use of zeros, and the amount of time it took for feedback to get to parents and students,” Carlton said. “For example, some teachers would not accept late work, some would take it and reduce the grade by 10 points for every day it was late, and some would reduce it by 50 percent.”

The new policy specifies that homework will be graded based on proper completion of the assignment, and that teachers are to provide feedback to students within five school days of the assignment due date. It also provides that, generally, homework will be accepted up to five school days after the due date, with points for late work to be deducted as determined by the grade level or department.

Only homework not received within five days of when it is due will be graded with a zero.

The new policy allows for a certain amount of flexibility based on differing grade levels and subject matter.

“When you have a lot of teachers teaching different subjects,” Grimesey noted, “I think there is some degree of variability that is reasonable. But what we discovered, based on the feedback that we got, was that we had some work to do to promote consistency.”

The policy rewrite was produced over the course of several months by a committee composed of parents, teachers and school and central office administrators.

“Basically, we tried to engage all the stakeholders and get everybody on the same page,” Carlton said. “We had the discussions we needed to have, came up with a consensus and built that into the policy.”

Dan McFarland:\