For most students, Homecoming weekend provided a reprieve from school work. AR 6154, the homework policy implemented this year, designated the weekend to be homework-free, and for the most part, teachers complied with the stipulations. However, multiple students and other teachers approached Principal Wynne Satterwhite about teachers who they believed had violated the policy.
While most teachers are confirmed to have followed the letter of the policy, some students had misinterpreted whether the due dates of assignments violated the policy. Issues also arose when students claimed some teachers violated the intent of the law, even if they adhered to the specific text of the law.
“Did the teachers violate the letter of the law?” Satterwhite said. “I don’t believe so, but do I believe the spirit may have been bruised a bit? Yes. A conversation we need to have as a staff is to talk about the intent and how we can interpret this.”
Last year, administration, teachers and students collaborated to devise AR 6154, which limits the amount and frequency of homework teachers are permitted to assign. The guidelines prohibit homework from being assigned for designated homework-free weekends, including Homecoming and Thanksgiving weekend.
Most teachers at Los Altos have followed AR 6154, but some students claim teachers found loopholes circumventing the regulation’s intent of securing a homework-free weekend for students without technically violating the policy. Most reports concerning violations may be attributed to miscommunication or misinterpretation of deadlines among students and teachers.
In one case, a teacher violated the code after assigning homework on Thursday, a block day, and setting the due date for Monday. Students believed the teacher did not preserve the integrity of the policy because the assignment could only have been turned in on Monday in class, as it was not online. The teacher declined to comment.
“The teacher gave us some time in class to work, but it was nowhere near enough time to finish the assignment,” an anonymous student from the class said. “In a way it could be Thursday night homework, but realistically, it will end up being weekend homework.”
For another class, an anonymous student said the teacher had assigned problems in class on Friday and set the due date to the following Tuesday. Student complaints originated from the fact that more homework would also be assigned on Monday, and the teacher recommended that students finish the work over the weekend if they did not complete it in class. The majority of the students were unable to finish the work during class time, thus making it weekend homework. While the letter of the homework policy was preserved, some believe the spirit was violated. The teacher declined to comment.
“I think [the teacher] assigned [the problems] as practice because we were asking questions about the [concepts] in class,” the student said. “If we didn’t do the assignment [over the] weekend we would have to do it later. It became homework rather than classwork.”
However, some reports of teachers violating the policy came from misunderstandings concerning the due date of the assignment. In one class, a teacher assigned homework on the Homecoming block day before the homework-free weekend and set the due date for Monday night the following week. Some students held uncertainty over whether the assignment’s due date was valid in regards to the homework policy.
“We got some notes that were due on Monday night, but the amount of homework was a little less than normal nights,” an anonymous student from this class said. “People did ask [the teacher] why we had homework, but [the teacher] said that we could handle it.”
The teacher in question justified the work given to his students because it was due on Monday night rather than Monday in class.
“The assignment I gave did not necessitate weekend homework,” the teacher said. “It was due Monday at midnight, online, and posted Thursday, right after school. What I assigned wasn’t a huge amount of work, so I figured it was reasonable to do after school.”
Other members of the class agree with the teacher’s justification because the assignment was due Monday night, and students did not have to do the assignment over the weekend.
“None of my teachers assigned homework over the homecoming weekend,” the student said. “[This teacher] assigned [work] that was technically due Monday night, so some students may have done it over the weekend.”
In light of these misinterpretations of the spirit of the law, administration and staff wish to avoid discrepancies in the future by offering a homework survey for students, parents and faculty members to take in early second semester. The relevant modifications will be made to address and avoid any confusion that arose this year.
“We are [making] a homework survey which will ask students was this homework-free weekend really helpful or did this just push things off to the next week?” Satterwhite said. “We’ll also ask whether teachers are living up to the 30 to 45 minute, four days a week homework change, especially in college-level AP and honors classes.”