‘Homework lady’ talks about effectiveness of assignments

UMSL education expert Cathy Vatterott recently talked to KTVI (Channel 2) about a new study that concludes too much homework is not effective. (Photo by August Jennewein)

As the rush continues to purchase last-minute school supplies and clothes, thoughts begin to focus on the upcoming school year. With a new school year comes new homework assignments and the ongoing discussion about how much is too much.

Cathy Vatterott, associate professor of secondary and K-12 education at the University of Missouri–St. Louis, recently talked to KTVI (Channel 2) about a new study that concludes too much homework is not effective.

Vatterott, who is referred to by many as “the homework lady,” said the study is accurate, to some degree.

“What we’ve seen, especially at the elementary level, is that homework doesn’t necessary correlate with achievement,” she told KTVI. “Now that doesn’t really make sense to us because you’d say, ‘Well of course if you read you become a better reader and if you do math, you become better at math.’ So what we are looking at is that it doesn’t help to do a lot of homework.”

Vatterott suggested that teachers “work smarter, not harder” and use homework as a checking point and not for new learning. Also, she recommended parents become an advocate for their child if they need too.

Vatterott is widely regarded as a national expert on the topic of K-12 homework. She is the author of “Rethinking Homework: Best Practices That Support Diverse Needs.” And she is currently working on research about grading practices.

She first became interested in homework as the frustrated parent of a fifth-grader with learning disabilities. Since then, she has presented her homework research to more than 10,000 educators and parents in the United States, Canada and Europe and she has been interviewed as a homework expert for radio, television and articles appearing in such magazines as Parents, Better Homes and Gardens, Child, and Working Mother, and for articles appearing in numerous U.S. newspapers and educational websites.

Her research about K-12 homework has led to a new research interest in K-12 grading practices, especially standards-based grading. She frequently presents at international, national and regional conferences, most often about the topics of homework and grading practices.

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