"It's no traditional homework, no worksheets, no endless pages of workbooks."

By Michelle Darrisaw
Boy Doing Homework
Credit: Avel Mitja Varela/Morsa Images/Getty Images

Elementary school students residing in Ocala's Marion County will be greeted by a new—albeit controversial—mandate for the 2017-2018 school year: a "no homework" policy. Which means teachers will no longer have to hear "the dog ate my homework" as an excuse for not turning in assignments.

Instead, to further their education, students are being asked to read aloud every night with their parents for 20 minutes. The policy, which was issued back on July 12, will be in effect for 31 elementary schools in the district. However, the rule will not apply to middle and high school students.

In a voice message to parents, Superintendent Heidi Maier, said that "traditional homework as we know it will disappear."

"We'd like you to assist your child in self-selecting their own texts that inspire them and encourage them to read," Maier explained in the announcement. "This is so important for so many reasons, including building relationships and increasing parent involvement."

Maier's decision was based on research conducted by Richard Allington, a University of Tennessee professor of Theory and Practice in Teacher Education, which showed that homework in early adolescence does not improve academic achievement—but reading aloud does.

"The research showed that students who are given a preponderance of homework do not perform better, or get better grades, than those who do not," Maier told the Ocala Star-Banner.

It's not all about hitting the books, though, as Maier noted that teachers will still assign science projects and ask students to write research papers on occasion.

Of course, the district's new policy has caused discord among parents—some in favor, others opposed to the new strategy.

"The homework is kind of a little window into his day," said Heather Ergle, the mother of an 8-year-old son, who spoke out in opposition of the policy.

On the other side of the argument is Lauren Roger, the mother of two sons.

"Homework has been a struggle," said Roger. "We had nights that we'd be sitting at the kitchen table with tears. For us, it was like a happy dance here in the kitchen."

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While more and more schools are adopting a no homework policy, Marion County's new implementation is still more of an exception, not the rule. So let us know on which side of the homework debate you fall.