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EDUCATION REPORT - October 16, 2003: Homework - 2003-10-16

This is Steve Ember with the VOA Special English Education Report.

Students often say their teachers give them too much homework. Now, reports by two research organizations show that in the United States this argument is generally not true.

The Brookings Institution in Washington, D.C., wrote one of the reports. It shows that the average student does less than one hour of schoolwork at home a night. The Rand Corporation in California did the other study. The research shows that only one in ten high school students spends more than two hours a night on homework.

The findings are based on information from the United States Department of Education and international studies. They are also based on research by the University of Michigan, the University of California at Los Angeles and others.

The Brookings report notes an international math and science study from nineteen-ninety-five. The United States was near last among twenty countries in homework. Students in France, Italy, Russia, and South Africa reported they spent at least two times as long on homework.

The Rand report examined American homework levels during the second half of the twentieth century. Brian Gill helped write the report. He says there was only one time when homework sharply increased. That happened during the early nineteen-sixties. Americans were not happy when the Soviet Union became the first country to reach space. There was great concern about improving education.

Politicians, educators and parents called for more intensive study -- especially in mathematics and science. Still, at that time, only about twenty-five percent of high school students completed more than two hours of homework daily.

Not just children protest about homework. Some busy parents say their jobs leave them little time to help. Others want their children to have time for sports, music lessons and other activities after school. At the same time, some educators say schools need to give more meaningful homework.

Harris Cooper is an expert on homework. He is a professor at Duke University in North Carolina. Professor Cooper suggests ten minutes per grade level. That adds up to two hours a night by the last year of high school.

This VOA Special English Education Report was written by Jerilyn Watson. This is Steve Ember.