Parent Issues Complaint on WHS Homework Level

She addressed the problem in public on Dec. 20.

A Windham High School parent delivered a public complaint on Dec. 18 about the homework level for students, a problem which Principal Tom Murphy is already looking at with his leadership team.

Andrea Alexander told the school board that her daughter, who she referred to as a motivated and dedicated student, is pulling all-nighters along with many of her classmates.

"It is unbelievable," Alexander said, saying that the stress level is unbearable in Windham homes with high school students.

Murphy reported that a couple of parents have reached out to him specifically, and that the comments are not new to him.

"(Our) leadership team has begun to craft a spreadsheet of class expectations," he said.

According to Murphy, the school is looking at specific grade levels and determining what a student's workload would actually look like for a particular level of education, such as honors level courses.

He said the leadership team is also trying to determine what an appropriate amount of time to spend on homework should be for each particular class, using the example of Honors chemistry.

Murphy explained that he taught an advanced placement (AP) course for 15 years.

"My expectation was a student should be doing one hour worth of work per night in that class," he said. "If I have a student that is taking three hours, I might have a conversation – is this the appropriate challenge for you?"

Murphy said there was also discussion on putting the homework times in the program of studies for each course.

School Board member Michelle Farrell said that her daughter is in a similar boat, referencing projects that are due after she gets back from winter break although the idea is to give a week for the students to relax.

Fellow board member Jerome Rekart asked Murphy to network with colleagues at other high schools about homework loads.

Alexander stressed the need for parent input on homework decisions, suggesting a possible town meeting on the subject.

According to Superintendent Dr. Henry LaBranche, the school district has a homework policy in place.

"Have they evolved to something else?," he asked, "I can't sit here and tell you at this point in time that they have."

He noted that a comparitive analysis is difficult due to Windham High's short history, but added that the district would be more than happy to investigate the situation to help define the magnitude of the problem.

Regarding the issue, it will be brought back as an agenda item and Murphy will return to the board after winter break.

WHS Student December 27, 2012 at 04:45 PM
Wow. All of you need to calm down. I'm a juinor at WHS and have had experience with different types of classes. #1, before taking an honors or AP class I suggest actually speaking with people who have taken it. I took Honors Western Humanities my freshman year, but did not take Honors American Studies during my sophomore year. Why? I spoke to someone who had taken Honors American and a different person who taken regular American studies. I actually thought about my own capabilities, and figured that regular was best for me. Thank god I did that, because friends that I have who were in honors told me about their workload and I know it would have been too much for me. Anyway, I believe the problem with homework at WHS is that a lot of times I will not have homework for a while, then all of a sudden get tons. It isn't just me though, my friends and various classmates have said the same thing. This occurs especially before the end of a marking period. We will have a nice lull of a week without stress, then all-of-a-sudden get assigned two or three projects. The high school faculty and administration should plan possibly certain times of the month for each department (for example humanities, sciences, etc) to be able to have a project or a test happen. I know this may be difficult, but it could greatly improve some student's scores because they have more time for each individual test, project, or whatever is due at that time. Plus there is less stress for the student. :)
Concerned Citizen December 27, 2012 at 08:21 PM
Keep the comments friendly/neutral everybody :)
Student December 28, 2012 at 05:11 PM
WHS prepares us for college and the amount of work we're going to have to do in higher levels of education. I'm sure that many of the students complaining about getting too much work are either taking classes that are too difficult for them, or have an unrealistic idea of what is "too much." Many of you will be unpleasantly surprised once it comes time for college. I'm a sophomore at WHS taking three honors classes and I have no problem staying up late doing loads of homework because I know I'm challenging myself and learning.
Citizen of Windham January 09, 2013 at 06:54 PM
In 8th grade, my language teacher offered to recommend me for Honors Western Humanities, if I thought I had what it takes to maintain a solid grade in the class. After sleeping on it, I thought of the challenges it would bring and decided I would not participate in the class. Since then, I have not taken any Honors classes whatsoever and the homework amount per night seems like a good amount for non-honors classes and I'm able to complete it within a reasonable amount of time without distractions. You need to make decisions for yourself. Sure, Honors classes look great on transcripts, but you need to be able to just deal with the class and do what you're told. There's no reason for "teenage rebellion" against it like most kids nowadays who just argue and try to justify all their actions. Pay attention in class and do your work. Simple as that.
JoeShmo January 09, 2013 at 07:02 PM
I completely agree with E. I understand that taking the honors and AP courses consume a lot of time and require a great deal of effort, however, it should not take away a student's only free time. I understand what your saying Josh, but this isn't college. It's a high school, where you try new things, join clubs, and work hard at what you do. You shouldn't be sacrificing your life because you have chosen to get good grades. Also, colleges are looking for well-rounded students, not students who can "pull all-nighters" and deprive themselves of sleep. The school has only been running for 4 years now and the teachers are just beginning to find their places in the school and start assigning more homework. Having other siblings, I can accurately say that I have had the biggest work load of all of my older siblings. It is getting ridiculous and you talk about these other honors students who are supposedly superior to us, but you are talking to a lot of them and quite frankly I find some of your comments to be quite demeaning. Go Madison and Andrea!


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