Larry Ferlazzo’s Websites of the Day…

…For Teaching ELL, ESL, & EFL

New Study Says Homework Has No Impact…Except In Math


David Brooks at The New York Times writes in Homework Follies that a new study shows that homework has no impact in science, English, and history, but it does have a large impact in math.

I think it’s probably also safe to say that (depending on the type of homework, of course) it would also show a large impact with English Language Learners (see Homework For English Language Learners).

I’m adding this info to The Best Resources For Learning About Homework Issues.

Author: Larry Ferlazzo

I'm a high school teacher in Sacramento, CA.


  1. As a high school social studies teacher, I have an extremely hard time believing any study that tells me homework has no impact. Surely, the impact of homework is highly dependent on the nature of the homework, when it’s given, and students’ motivation to complete it. I’ve had extraordinary success in boosting my students’ achievement levels with students who I can find ways of motivating to complete it.

  2. Yeah, and this just in…practice at a sport doesn’t improve your game, either.

    First of all, the link to the NY Times article goes to the ‘opinion pages’. There, it talks about the results as related to boosting test scores. Insert soap box speech about today’s focus on cranking out test takers and not learners of discipline and time management here. Also, it says “They used a method that controlled student and teacher traits” but never says what they are.

    So, I follow the link to the actual study, and its title is about giving ‘more’ homework, not refraining from giving any homework at all. I found the answer to “more than what?” on p. 12 of the study. More than 7 hours a week. You shouldn’t give 8th graders more than 7 hours a week.

    Most importantly…it doesn’t say anything valuable about the quality or type of homework given. On p. 12: “One feasible explanation [why math hw is more valuable] is that math homework requires solving problems and not simple memorization.” It goes on in its analysis to assume hw in all the other subjects IS mostly rote memorization of facts. How offensively presumptuous.

    Also, the study admits that the variable is the amount of homework the teacher reports assigning… NOT the amount the student has actually COMPLETED. (p. 4) With eleven years teaching experience speaking here, I can assure them that this is NOT the same thing.

    I’d love some research and information that would help me shape my language arts classroom practices for my students as learners. I myself assign on average about 20-30 minutes a night three nights a week to my seventh graders. Practice of skills is the primary goal. This does not sound like the model of homework in the study.

  3. Additional English homework won’t necessarily lead to improvements on standardized tests? And… this tell us what, exactly? There are lots of things that standardized tests simply can’t measure. Homework can be used to enhance classroom discussions at the very least; it can lead to improvements in student writing.

Leave a Reply

Required fields are marked *.

Skip to toolbar