Grading Homework

Question: My daughter, a fourth-grader, attends a private school. As a former teacher, I was taught in college that homework is assigned to teach students to work independently, learn responsibility, practice new material and to see who understands what was taught. This isn’t happening at my child’s school, where assignments are randomly pulled and graded. These grades make up 20 percent of report card grades.

We are not given any criteria as to which assignment will be pulled for a grade or notified before or after which paper was graded. Now, I feel I must check my child’s homework so it doesn’t jeopardize her report card grades. Is randomly grading homework the norm? — Very Upset

Answer: Both public and private schools as well as individual teachers can have homework policies that parents may not like. Changing them is usually accomplished by parent-teacher organizations or a group of concerned parents. Individual complaints by parents are rarely effective.
Here are some of the most common approaches used by teachers for grading homework:

* Homework is checked to see if it is completed, and points are awarded for whole or partial completion (a popular approach).
* Some homework is collected and graded on a random basis. (Other schools do have the same policy as your child’s school.)
* All homework is graded.
* Quizzes are given over the content of homework.
* No homework is graded.
* No credit is given for completing homework.

There is no reason to be so obsessed with your child’s grades. Homework should be your child’s responsibility. Don’t check it unless your child requests it. Then, merely indicate areas that your child should look at carefully rather than pointing out or correcting errors since the assignment may be graded.

Parents can send questions to Dear Teacher, c/o Carolina Parent magazine, P.O. Box 395, Carmel, IN 46082-0395. Or send an e-mail to: ©2006 Compass Syndicate Corporation. Distributed by King Features Syndicate.