The research relied on by those who oppose homework has actually found it has a modest positive effect at the middle and high school levels—just not in elementary school.
But for the most part, the studies haven’t looked at whether it matters what kind of homework is assigned or whether there are different effects for different demographic student groups.
Rather than giving up on homework because of social inequities, schools could help parents support homework in ways that don’t depend on their own knowledge—for example, by recruiting others to help, as some low-income demographic groups have been able to do.
Schools could also provide quiet study areas at the end of the day, and teachers could assign homework that doesn’t rely on technology.
A homework assignment could require students to answer questions about what was covered in class that day without consulting their notes.
Research has found that retrieval practice and similar learning strategies are far more powerful than simply rereading or reviewing material.
Students from less educated families are most in need of the boost that effective homework can provide, because they’re less likely to acquire academic knowledge and vocabulary at home.
And homework can provide a way for lower-income parents—who often don’t have time to volunteer in class or participate in parents’ organizations—to forge connections to their children’s schools.
In 2016, a second-grade teacher in Texas delighted her students—and at least some of their parents—by announcing she would no longer assign homework.
“Research has been unable to prove that homework improves student performance,” she explained.