I think, as a high schooler who attended a school who always supplemented their school work with homework, and as an honors, Pre-AP, and AP student, homework is used far too often. We, as students, sit there and burn out in class, learning everything the teacher can put in our brains, and then go home and do the same thing, learning the same things we learned in sitting in rock hard chairs for an hour and a half. Teachers will say it supplements what we learned in class, it makes us think over it outside of class. Most of the time, all the homework is is pointless busy work that does nothing but make students dislike the teacher, dislike the subject, dislike learning, because of the burn-out. Writing papers outside of class, okay, I understand that. Only so much can be covered in class and writing a 4 page essay, for some kids, takes a lot of time. If it really takes you that long, you really shouldn’t be in an AP class, but that’s beside the point.
If homework has ever done anything for me, it’s ruin my grades. I get home, go to work on the homework, and realize that I have no clue what I’m doing. Maybe in class it made sense, when the teacher was there to run to, or maybe I was just fooling myself into thinking I “got it”. Either way, fact of the matter was, I was lost and I had no one to help. But, better to do the work and hopefully get something right, then not do it and get a big, fat ‘0’ in nice, bold red Sharpie. Now if that doesn’t just kick you in the gut when you’re already having a bad day. I remember all too often leaving class as lost as when I walked in, whether due to my own incompetence or the teacher’s isn’t really a factor, going home, trying to do my homework, failing spectacularly, and returning to school the next day to beg answers off of a friend who actually knows what they’re doing. Just so I could pass. So maybe homework does help academic achievement, simply because it’s done outside of class and therefore the sources of the answers are not regulated. How teachers don’t associate good homework scores with really low test scores as something being up is totally beyond me. None of my teachers ever did. I remember more than once sitting in Algebra or Chemistry and just about having a panic attack during the tests because I had no clue how x to the 16th power even applied, let alone what to do with it.
Homework is one of those things that is a false gauge of any student’s achievement. Kind of like group projects. It doesn’t “reinforce” anything. Students don’t have to do their homework. Usually the students who don’t either can cover themselves with tests or they just really don’t care. The students who do it usually either have nothing else to do or are scared to death of what will happen if they don’t. No matter how you look at it really, though, it’s a lot of work towards an eventual burn-out. Or depression. Or something equally mentally and academically debilitating.