Board member expounds on PCS homework policy
Friday, September 3, 2010 - 1:43 pm

To the Editor:

I read with interest your article “Potsdam Central: Homework Grade Policy Starts At PCS” (Page 1, Aug. 25-31).

Your focus on this important grading and homework policy is much appreciated. There is one significant point that cannot be stressed enough because it is the basis of much misunderstanding.

To quote from the article: “The new policy will limit to 10 percent, the portion of a student’s overall grade based on homework.” To expound on this, there are two types of homework assessments: formative and summative.

Formative assessments are designed to provide opportunities for the practice or re-teaching of new instructional material. It is this type of homework that cannot count more than 10 percent of a student’s quarterly average. An example of formative homework: A new math concept is taught in class and the teacher gives the students homework to practice this new concept.

Summative assessments are designed to provide information to the teacher to be used in making judgments about a student’s achievement -- at the end of a sequence of instruction. Summative homework should be graded and the teacher may give such homework as much weight as (s)he deems appropriate. Some examples of summative homework: final drafts of essays, take home tests, research papers, etc.

In a nutshell, practice homework will be given less weight than summative homework. The bottom line is that in the PCSD, homework is expected to be completed by students because doing meaningful homework will lead to higher achievement by students in their courses. The new policy highlights the importance of teachers assigning well-thought-out assignments, of students doing such homework, and of students receiving meaningful and timely feedback from teachers about the quality of homework submitted.

Many parents have told me that they believe homework is very important and I tell them the new policy strongly reinforces their position.

Ann Carvill, member

Potsdam Central School Board of Education