• May 11 Art Car Club showcases its rolling artwork on wheels at the Orange Show parade
  • May 3 Cultures collide at the Bellaire International Student Association Fest
  • May 2 Uncalculated uncertainties
  • May 1 National Honor Society welcomes new inductees
  • April 27 The road from Rhode Island

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how many assignments per year in high school

Students spend three times longer on homework than average, survey reveals

Sonya Kulkarni and Pallavi Gorantla | Jan 9, 2022

The+National+Education+Association+and+the+National+Parent+Teacher+Association+have+suggested+that+a+healthy+number+of+hours+that+students+should+be+spending+can+be+determined+by+the+10-minute+rule.+This+means+that+each+grade+level+should+have+a+maximum+homework+time+incrementing+by+10+minutes+depending+on+their+grade+level+%28for+instance%2C+ninth-graders+would+have+90+minutes+of+homework%2C+10th-graders+should+have+100+minutes%2C+and+so+on%29.

Graphic by Sonya Kulkarni

The National Education Association and the National Parent Teacher Association have suggested that a healthy number of hours that students should be spending can be determined by the “10-minute rule.” This means that each grade level should have a maximum homework time incrementing by 10 minutes depending on their grade level (for instance, ninth-graders would have 90 minutes of homework, 10th-graders should have 100 minutes, and so on).

As ‘finals week’ rapidly approaches, students not only devote effort to attaining their desired exam scores but make a last attempt to keep or change the grade they have for semester one by making up homework assignments.

High schoolers reported doing an average of 2.7 hours of homework per weeknight, according to a study by the Washington Post from 2018 to 2020 of over 50,000 individuals. A survey of approximately 200 Bellaire High School students revealed that some students spend over three times this number.

The demographics of this survey included 34 freshmen, 43 sophomores, 54 juniors and 54 seniors on average.

When asked how many hours students spent on homework in a day on average, answers ranged from zero to more than nine with an average of about four hours. In contrast, polled students said that about one hour of homework would constitute a healthy number of hours.

Junior Claire Zhang said she feels academically pressured in her AP schedule, but not necessarily by the classes.

“The class environment in AP classes can feel pressuring because everyone is always working hard and it makes it difficult to keep up sometimes.” Zhang said.

A total of 93 students reported that the minimum grade they would be satisfied with receiving in a class would be an A. This was followed by 81 students, who responded that a B would be the minimum acceptable grade. 19 students responded with a C and four responded with a D.

“I am happy with the classes I take, but sometimes it can be very stressful to try to keep up,” freshman Allyson Nguyen said. “I feel academically pressured to keep an A in my classes.”

Up to 152 students said that grades are extremely important to them, while 32 said they generally are more apathetic about their academic performance.

Last year, nine valedictorians graduated from Bellaire. They each achieved a grade point average of 5.0. HISD has never seen this amount of valedictorians in one school, and as of now there are 14 valedictorians.

“I feel that it does degrade the title of valedictorian because as long as a student knows how to plan their schedule accordingly and make good grades in the classes, then anyone can be valedictorian,” Zhang said.

Bellaire offers classes like physical education and health in the summer. These summer classes allow students to skip the 4.0 class and not put it on their transcript. Some electives also have a 5.0 grade point average like debate.

Close to 200 students were polled about Bellaire having multiple valedictorians. They primarily answered that they were in favor of Bellaire having multiple valedictorians, which has recently attracted significant acclaim .

Senior Katherine Chen is one of the 14 valedictorians graduating this year and said that she views the class of 2022 as having an extraordinary amount of extremely hardworking individuals.

“I think it was expected since freshman year since most of us knew about the others and were just focused on doing our personal best,” Chen said.

Chen said that each valedictorian achieved the honor on their own and deserves it.

“I’m honestly very happy for the other valedictorians and happy that Bellaire is such a good school,” Chen said. “I don’t feel any less special with 13 other valedictorians.”

Nguyen said that having multiple valedictorians shows just how competitive the school is.

“It’s impressive, yet scary to think about competing against my classmates,” Nguyen said.

Offering 30 AP classes and boasting a significant number of merit-based scholars Bellaire can be considered a competitive school.

“I feel academically challenged but not pressured,” Chen said. “Every class I take helps push me beyond my comfort zone but is not too much to handle.”

Students have the opportunity to have off-periods if they’ve met all their credits and are able to maintain a high level of academic performance. But for freshmen like Nguyen, off periods are considered a privilege. Nguyen said she usually has an hour to five hours worth of work everyday.

“Depending on the day, there can be a lot of work, especially with extra curriculars,” Nguyen said. “Although, I am a freshman, so I feel like it’s not as bad in comparison to higher grades.”

According to the survey of Bellaire students, when asked to evaluate their agreement with the statement “students who get better grades tend to be smarter overall than students who get worse grades,” responders largely disagreed.

Zhang said that for students on the cusp of applying to college, it can sometimes be hard to ignore the mental pressure to attain good grades.

“As a junior, it’s really easy to get extremely anxious about your GPA,” Zhang said. “It’s also a very common but toxic practice to determine your self-worth through your grades but I think that we just need to remember that our mental health should also come first. Sometimes, it’s just not the right day for everyone and one test doesn’t determine our smartness.”

HUMANS OF BELLAIRE - Achilles Glenn

HUMANS OF BELLAIRE – Achilles Glenn

Senior Raymond Gamboa plays his guitar next to a campfire video playing on his laptop. He enjoys playing his guitar and hanging our with his friends.

Gather around the campfire

HUMANS OF BELLAIRE - Alara Bozkurt

HUMANS OF BELLAIRE – Alara Bozkurt

HUMANS OF BELLAIRE - Peter Zhao

HUMANS OF BELLAIRE – Peter Zhao

HUMANS OF BELLAIRE - Aaditya Krishna

HUMANS OF BELLAIRE – Aaditya Krishna

Club members walk beside their art car through Allen Parkway.

Art Car Club showcases its rolling artwork on wheels at the Orange Show parade

Senior Saachi Gupta was one of the many Bollywood Club dancers. Their performance consisted of a mixture of traditional and contemporary dances such as: Kathak and Bharatanatyam.

Cultures collide at the Bellaire International Student Association Fest

Out of 441 responders, 211 AP Precalculus students feel prepared for the AP exam. On the other hand, 230 believe they are not ready. The exam will take place on May 13 at 12 p.m.

Uncalculated uncertainties

NHS co-advisor Jennifer Kuhleman recognizes NHS scholarship semi-finalists seniors Katelyn Ta,  Aaditya Krishna and Akshay Kapur (left to right). All three of the seniors demonstrated the four pillars of NHS during their time at Bellaire.

National Honor Society welcomes new inductees

Burgjohann was awarded First Year Teacher of the Year, having moved from her home in Rhode Island to the state of Texas just two weeks before the start of the 2023 academic school year.

The road from Rhode Island

Humans of Bellaire

HUMANS OF BELLAIRE - Andrew Abdelmlak 

HUMANS OF BELLAIRE – Andrew Abdelmlak 

Karis and Lydia drove to UT Austin for the ILPC conference with fellow editors Ari Castañeda and Jason Deng on April 21. TPP won a Silver Star award for the online site and a Bronze Star for the print magazine.

‘Two sides of the brain’

HUMANS OF BELLAIRE - Eric Li

HUMANS OF BELLAIRE – Eric Li

Wei and her mother practice the route she would take to school. Taken on Aug. 28, 2023, the day before Wei attended classes.

From China to Bellaire, senior adjusts to changes

Rimawi describes her years at Bellaire as not a typical high school experience due to having online school her freshman year. She said she didnt get to experience the general high school environment until 10th grade.

HUMANS OF BELLAIRE – Sarah Rimawi

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Anonymous • Nov 21, 2023 at 10:32 am

It’s not really helping me understand how much.

josh • May 9, 2023 at 9:58 am

Kassie • May 6, 2022 at 12:29 pm

Im using this for an English report. This is great because on of my sources needed to be from another student. Homework drives me insane. Im glad this is very updated too!!

Kaylee Swaim • Jan 25, 2023 at 9:21 pm

I am also using this for an English report. I have to do an argumentative essay about banning homework in schools and this helps sooo much!

Izzy McAvaney • Mar 15, 2023 at 6:43 pm

I am ALSO using this for an English report on cutting down school days, homework drives me insane!!

E. Elliott • Apr 25, 2022 at 6:42 pm

I’m from Louisiana and am actually using this for an English Essay thanks for the information it was very informative.

Nabila Wilson • Jan 10, 2022 at 6:56 pm

Interesting with the polls! I didn’t realize about 14 valedictorians, that’s crazy.

  • Our Mission

Adolescent girl doing homework.

What’s the Right Amount of Homework?

Decades of research show that homework has some benefits, especially for students in middle and high school—but there are risks to assigning too much.

Many teachers and parents believe that homework helps students build study skills and review concepts learned in class. Others see homework as disruptive and unnecessary, leading to burnout and turning kids off to school. Decades of research show that the issue is more nuanced and complex than most people think: Homework is beneficial, but only to a degree. Students in high school gain the most, while younger kids benefit much less.

The National PTA and the National Education Association support the “ 10-minute homework guideline ”—a nightly 10 minutes of homework per grade level. But many teachers and parents are quick to point out that what matters is the quality of the homework assigned and how well it meets students’ needs, not the amount of time spent on it.

The guideline doesn’t account for students who may need to spend more—or less—time on assignments. In class, teachers can make adjustments to support struggling students, but at home, an assignment that takes one student 30 minutes to complete may take another twice as much time—often for reasons beyond their control. And homework can widen the achievement gap, putting students from low-income households and students with learning disabilities at a disadvantage.

However, the 10-minute guideline is useful in setting a limit: When kids spend too much time on homework, there are real consequences to consider.

Small Benefits for Elementary Students

As young children begin school, the focus should be on cultivating a love of learning, and assigning too much homework can undermine that goal. And young students often don’t have the study skills to benefit fully from homework, so it may be a poor use of time (Cooper, 1989 ; Cooper et al., 2006 ; Marzano & Pickering, 2007 ). A more effective activity may be nightly reading, especially if parents are involved. The benefits of reading are clear: If students aren’t proficient readers by the end of third grade, they’re less likely to succeed academically and graduate from high school (Fiester, 2013 ).

For second-grade teacher Jacqueline Fiorentino, the minor benefits of homework did not outweigh the potential drawback of turning young children against school at an early age, so she experimented with dropping mandatory homework. “Something surprising happened: They started doing more work at home,” Fiorentino writes . “This inspiring group of 8-year-olds used their newfound free time to explore subjects and topics of interest to them.” She encouraged her students to read at home and offered optional homework to extend classroom lessons and help them review material.

Moderate Benefits for Middle School Students

As students mature and develop the study skills necessary to delve deeply into a topic—and to retain what they learn—they also benefit more from homework. Nightly assignments can help prepare them for scholarly work, and research shows that homework can have moderate benefits for middle school students (Cooper et al., 2006 ). Recent research also shows that online math homework, which can be designed to adapt to students’ levels of understanding, can significantly boost test scores (Roschelle et al., 2016 ).

There are risks to assigning too much, however: A 2015 study found that when middle school students were assigned more than 90 to 100 minutes of daily homework, their math and science test scores began to decline (Fernández-Alonso, Suárez-Álvarez, & Muñiz, 2015 ). Crossing that upper limit can drain student motivation and focus. The researchers recommend that “homework should present a certain level of challenge or difficulty, without being so challenging that it discourages effort.” Teachers should avoid low-effort, repetitive assignments, and assign homework “with the aim of instilling work habits and promoting autonomous, self-directed learning.”

In other words, it’s the quality of homework that matters, not the quantity. Brian Sztabnik, a veteran middle and high school English teacher, suggests that teachers take a step back and ask themselves these five questions :

  • How long will it take to complete?
  • Have all learners been considered?
  • Will an assignment encourage future success?
  • Will an assignment place material in a context the classroom cannot?
  • Does an assignment offer support when a teacher is not there?

More Benefits for High School Students, but Risks as Well

By the time they reach high school, students should be well on their way to becoming independent learners, so homework does provide a boost to learning at this age, as long as it isn’t overwhelming (Cooper et al., 2006 ; Marzano & Pickering, 2007 ). When students spend too much time on homework—more than two hours each night—it takes up valuable time to rest and spend time with family and friends. A 2013 study found that high school students can experience serious mental and physical health problems, from higher stress levels to sleep deprivation, when assigned too much homework (Galloway, Conner, & Pope, 2013 ).

Homework in high school should always relate to the lesson and be doable without any assistance, and feedback should be clear and explicit.

Teachers should also keep in mind that not all students have equal opportunities to finish their homework at home, so incomplete homework may not be a true reflection of their learning—it may be more a result of issues they face outside of school. They may be hindered by issues such as lack of a quiet space at home, resources such as a computer or broadband connectivity, or parental support (OECD, 2014 ). In such cases, giving low homework scores may be unfair.

Since the quantities of time discussed here are totals, teachers in middle and high school should be aware of how much homework other teachers are assigning. It may seem reasonable to assign 30 minutes of daily homework, but across six subjects, that’s three hours—far above a reasonable amount even for a high school senior. Psychologist Maurice Elias sees this as a common mistake: Individual teachers create homework policies that in aggregate can overwhelm students. He suggests that teachers work together to develop a school-wide homework policy and make it a key topic of back-to-school night and the first parent-teacher conferences of the school year.

Parents Play a Key Role

Homework can be a powerful tool to help parents become more involved in their child’s learning (Walker et al., 2004 ). It can provide insights into a child’s strengths and interests, and can also encourage conversations about a child’s life at school. If a parent has positive attitudes toward homework, their children are more likely to share those same values, promoting academic success.

But it’s also possible for parents to be overbearing, putting too much emphasis on test scores or grades, which can be disruptive for children (Madjar, Shklar, & Moshe, 2015 ). Parents should avoid being overly intrusive or controlling—students report feeling less motivated to learn when they don’t have enough space and autonomy to do their homework (Orkin, May, & Wolf, 2017 ; Patall, Cooper, & Robinson, 2008 ; Silinskas & Kikas, 2017 ). So while homework can encourage parents to be more involved with their kids, it’s important to not make it a source of conflict.

How Much Homework Is Too Much for Our Teens?

Here's what educators and parents can do to help kids find the right balance between school and home.

Does Your Teen Have Too Much Homework?

Today’s teens are under a lot of pressure.

They're under pressure to succeed, to win, to be the best and to get into the top colleges. With so much pressure, is it any wonder today’s youth report being under as much stress as their parents? In fact, during the school year, teens say they experience stress levels higher than those reported by adults, according to a previous American Psychological Association "Stress in America" survey.

Odds are if you ask a teen what's got them so worked up, the subject of school will come up. School can cause a lot of stress, which can lead to other serious problems, like sleep deprivation . According to the National Sleep Foundation, teens need between eight and 10 hours of sleep each night, but only 15 percent are even getting close to that amount. During the school week, most teens only get about six hours of zzz’s a night, and some of that sleep deficit may be attributed to homework.

When it comes to school, many adults would rather not trade places with a teen. Think about it. They get up at the crack of dawn and get on the bus when it’s pitch dark outside. They put in a full day sitting in hours of classes (sometimes four to seven different classes daily), only to get more work dumped on them to do at home. To top it off, many kids have after-school obligations, such as extracurricular activities including clubs and sports , and some have to work. After a long day, they finally get home to do even more work – schoolwork.

[Read: What Parents Should Know About Teen Depression .]

Homework is not only a source of stress for students, but it can also be a hassle for parents. If you are the parent of a kid who strives to be “perfect," then you know all too well how much time your child spends making sure every bit of homework is complete, even if it means pulling an all-nighter. On the flip side, if you’re the parent of a child who decided that school ends when the last bell rings, then you know how exhausting that homework tug-of-war can be. And heaven forbid if you’re that parent who is at their wit's end because your child excels on tests and quizzes but fails to turn in assignments. The woes of academics can go well beyond the confines of the school building and right into the home.

This is the time of year when many students and parents feel the burden of the academic load. Following spring break, many schools across the nation head into the final stretch of the year. As a result, some teachers increase the amount of homework they give. The assignments aren’t punishment, although to students and parents who are having to constantly stay on top of their kids' schoolwork, they can sure seem that way.

From a teacher’s perspective, the assignments are meant to help students better understand the course content and prepare for upcoming exams. Some schools have state-mandated end of grade or final tests. In those states these tests can account for 20 percent of a student’s final grade. So teachers want to make sure that they cover the entire curriculum before that exam. Aside from state-mandated tests, some high school students are enrolled in advanced placement or international baccalaureate college-level courses that have final tests given a month or more before the end of the term. In order to cover all of the content, teachers must maintain an accelerated pace. All of this means more out of class assignments.

Given the challenges kids face, there are a few questions parents and educators should consider:

Is homework necessary?

Many teens may give a quick "no" to this question, but the verdict is still out. Research supports both sides of the argument. Personally, I would say, yes, some homework is necessary, but it must be purposeful. If it’s busy work, then it’s a waste of time. Homework should be a supplemental teaching tool. Too often, some youth go home completely lost as they haven’t grasped concepts covered in class and they may become frustrated and overwhelmed.

For a parent who has been in this situation, you know how frustrating this can be, especially if it’s a subject that you haven’t encountered in a while. Homework can serve a purpose such as improving grades, increasing test scores and instilling a good work ethic. Purposeful homework can come in the form of individualizing assignments based on students’ needs or helping students practice newly acquired skills.

Homework should not be used to extend class time to cover more material. If your child is constantly coming home having to learn the material before doing the assignments, then it’s time to contact the teacher and set up a conference. Listen when kids express their concerns (like if they say they're expected to know concepts not taught in class) as they will provide clues about what’s happening or not happening in the classroom. Plus, getting to the root of the problem can help with keeping the peace at home too, as an irritable and grumpy teen can disrupt harmonious family dynamics .

[Read: What Makes Teens 'Most Likely to Succeed?' ]

How much is too much?

According to the National PTA and the National Education Association, students should only be doing about 10 minutes of homework per night per grade level. But teens are doing a lot more than that, according to a poll of high school students by the organization Statistic Brain . In that poll teens reported spending, on average, more than three hours on homework each school night, with 11th graders spending more time on homework than any other grade level. By contrast, some polls have shown that U.S. high school students report doing about seven hours of homework per week.

Much of a student's workload boils down to the courses they take (such as advanced or college prep classes), the teaching philosophy of educators and the student’s commitment to doing the work. Regardless, research has shown that doing more than two hours of homework per night does not benefit high school students. Having lots of homework to do every day makes it difficult for teens to have any downtime , let alone family time .

How do we respond to students' needs?

As an educator and parent, I can honestly say that oftentimes there is a mismatch in what teachers perceive as only taking 15 minutes and what really takes 45 minutes to complete. If you too find this to be the case, then reach out to your child's teacher and find out why the assignments are taking longer than anticipated for your child to complete.

Also, ask the teacher about whether faculty communicate regularly with one another about large upcoming assignments. Whether it’s setting up a shared school-wide assignment calendar or collaborating across curriculums during faculty meetings, educators need to discuss upcoming tests and projects, so students don’t end up with lots of assignments all competing for their attention and time at once. Inevitably, a student is going to get slammed occasionally, but if they have good rapport with their teachers, they will feel comfortable enough to reach out and see if alternative options are available. And as a parent, you can encourage your kid to have that dialogue with the teacher.

Often teens would rather blend into the class than stand out. That’s unfortunate because research has shown time and time again that positive teacher-student relationships are strong predictors of student engagement and achievement. By and large, most teachers appreciate students advocating for themselves and will go the extra mile to help them out.

Can there be a balance between home and school?

Students can strike a balance between school and home, but parents will have to help them find it. They need your guidance to learn how to better manage their time, get organized and prioritize tasks, which are all important life skills. Equally important is developing good study habits. Some students may need tutoring or coaching to help them learn new material or how to take notes and study. Also, don’t forget the importance of parent-teacher communication. Most educators want nothing more than for their students to succeed in their courses.

Learning should be fun, not mundane and cumbersome. Homework should only be given if its purposeful and in moderation. Equally important to homework is engaging in activities, socializing with friends and spending time with the family.

[See: 10 Concerns Parents Have About Their Kids' Health .]

Most adults don’t work a full-time job and then go home and do three more hours of work, and neither should your child. It's not easy learning to balance everything, especially if you're a teen. If your child is spending several hours on homework each night, don't hesitate to reach out to teachers and, if need be, school officials. Collectively, we can all work together to help our children de-stress and find the right balance between school and home.

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Analyzing ‘the homework gap’ among high school students

Subscribe to the brown center on education policy newsletter, michael hansen and michael hansen senior fellow - brown center on education policy , the herman and george r. brown chair - governance studies @drmikehansen diana quintero diana quintero former senior research analyst, brown center on education policy - the brookings institution, ph.d. student - vanderbilt university @quintero05diana.

August 10, 2017

Researchers have struggled for decades to identify a causal, or even correlational, relationship between time spent in school and improved learning outcomes for students. Some studies have focused on the length of a school year while others have focused on hours in a day and others on hours in the week .

In this blog post, we will look at time spent outside of school–specifically time spent doing homework–among different racial and socio-economic groups. We will use data from the American Time Use Survey (ATUS) to shed light on those differences and then attempt to explain those gaps, using ATUS data and other evidence.

What we know about out-of-school time

Measuring the relationship between out-of-school time and outcomes like test scores can be difficult. Researchers are primarily confounded by an inability to determine what compels students to choose homework during their time off over other activities. Are those who spend more time on homework just extra motivated? Or are they struggling students who need to work harder to keep up? What role do social expectations from parents or peers play?

Previous studies have examined the impact of this outside time use on educational outcomes for students. A 2007 study using data from Berea College in Kentucky identified a causal relationship between hours spent studying and a student’s academic performance through an interesting measure. The researchers took advantage of randomly assigned college roommates, paying attention to those who came to campus with a video game console in tow. They hypothesized students randomly assigned to a roommate without a video game console would study more, since all other factors remained equal. That hypothesis held up, and that group also received significantly higher grades, demonstrating the causal relationship.

Other research has relied on data collected through the American Time Use Survey, a study of how Americans spend their time, and shown the existence of a gender gap and a parental education gap in homework time. Other studies have looked at the relationship between holding a job and student’s time use in discretionary activities , like sleep, media consumption, and time spent on homework. We are curious about out-of-school differences in homework time by race and income.

Descriptive statistics of time use

We began with a general sample of 2,575 full-time high school students between the ages of 15 and 18 from the ATUS, restricting the sample to their answers about time spent on homework during weekdays and school months (September to May). Among all high school students surveyed (those that reported completing their homework and those that did not), the time allocated to complete homework amounted to less than an hour per day, despite the fact that high school teachers report they assign an average of 3.5 hours of homework per day.

To explore racial or income-based differences, in Figure 1, we plot the minutes that students reporting spending on homework separately by their racial/ethnic group and family income. We observed a time gap between racial groups, with Asian students spending the most time on homework (nearly two hours a day). Similarly, we observe a time gap by the students’ family income.

Time high school students spend on homework by race and parents' income

We can also use ATUS data to isolate when students do homework by race and by income. In Figure 2, we plot the percentage of high school students in each racial and income group doing homework by the time of day. Percentages remain low during the school day and then expectedly increase when students get home, with more Asian students doing more homework and working later into the night than other racial groups. Low-income students reported doing less homework per hour than their non-low-income peers.

Percentage of high school students doing homework by time of day, race, and income

Initial attempts to explain the homework gap

We hypothesized that these racial and income-based time gaps could potentially be explained by other factors, like work, time spent caring for others, and parental education. We tested these hypotheses by separating groups based on particular characteristics and comparing the average number of minutes per day spent on homework amongst the comparison groups.

Students who work predictably reported spending less time on educational activities, so if working disproportionately affected particular racial or income groups, then work could help explain the time gap. Students who worked allocated on average 20 minutes less for homework than their counterparts who did not work. Though low-income students worked more hours than their peers, they largely maintained a similar level of homework time by reducing their leisure or extracurricular activities. Therefore, the time gap on homework changed only slightly with the inclusion of work as a factor.

We also incorporated time spent taking care of others in the household. Though a greater percentage of low-income students take care of other household members, we found that this does not have a statistically significant effect on homework because students reduce leisure, rather than homework, in an attempt to help their families. Therefore, this variable again does not explain the time gaps.

Finally, we considered parental education, since parents with more education have been shown to encourage their children to value school more and have the resources to ensure homework is completed more easily. Our analysis showed students with at least one parent with any post-secondary degree (associate or above) reported spending more time on homework than their counterparts whose parents do not hold a degree; however, gaps by race still existed, even holding parental education constant. Turning to income levels, we found that parental education is more correlated with homework time among low-income students, reducing the time gap between income groups to only eight minutes.

Societal explanations

Our analysis of ATUS could not fully explain this gap in time spent on homework, especially among racial groups. Instead, we believe that viewing homework as an outcome of the culture of the school and the expectations of teachers, rather than an outcome of a student’s effort, may provide some reasons for its persistence.

Many studies, including recent research , have shown that teachers perceive students of color as academically inferior to their white peers. A 2016 study by Seth Gershenson et al. showed that this expectations gap can also depend on the race of the teacher. In a country where minority students make up nearly half of all public school students, yet minority teachers comprise just 18 percent of the teacher workforce, these differences in expectations matter.

Students of color are also less likely to attend high schools that offer advanced courses (including Advanced Placement courses) that would likely assign more homework, and thus access to rigorous courses may partially explain the gaps as well.

Research shows a similar, if less well-documented, gap by income, with teachers reporting lower expectations and dimmer futures for their low-income students. Low-income students and students of color may be assigned less homework based on lower expectations for their success, thus preventing them from learning as much and creating a self-fulfilling prophecy .

In conclusion, these analyses of time use revealed a substantial gap in homework by race and by income group that could not be entirely explained by work, taking care of others, or parental education. Additionally, differences in educational achievement, especially as measured on standardized tests, have been well-documented by race and by income . These gaps deserve our attention, but we should be wary of blaming disadvantaged groups. Time use is an outcome reflecting multiple factors, not simply motivation, and a greater understanding of that should help raise expectations–and therefore, educational achievement–all around.

Sarah Novicoff contributed to this post.

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May 16, 2024

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  • The Impact of Digital Tools on Student Writing and How Writing is Taught in Schools
  • Part II: How Much, and What, do Today’s Middle and High School Students Write?

Table of Contents

  • Part I: Introduction
  • Part III: Teachers See Digital Tools Affecting Student Writing in Myriad Ways
  • Part IV: Teachers Assess Students on Specific Writing Skills
  • Part V: Teaching Writing in the Digital Age

AP and NWP teachers participating in the survey report giving students written assignments ranging from research papers to short responses, journaling, and creative writing.  The type and frequency of written assignments varies considerably by the subject being taught and grade level, but on the whole these AP and NWP teachers place tremendous value on formal written assignments.

These teachers also point out that “writing” can be defined more broadly than written work assigned in an academic setting.  In focus groups, many teachers noted that in addition to the “formal” writing students do for class, they are engaged in many forms of writing outside of the classroom, much of it using digital tools and platforms such as texting and online social networking.  How to define these new types of writing and determining what impact they have on the “formal writing” students do in class remains an open question for many of these teachers.  But most agree that among  students , “writing” continues to be defined as assignments they are  required  to do for school, as opposed to textual expression they engage in on their own time.

The writing assignments AP and NWP teachers give their students

The survey quantified what types of writing exercises AP and NWP teachers assign to their middle and high school students.  As the graphic below suggests, among this group of teachers, short essays and journaling are the most commonly assigned writing tasks.  More than half of the sample (58%) report having their students write short essays, short responses, or opinion pieces at least once a week.  Four in ten (41%) have students journal on a weekly basis.

Research papers, multimedia assignments, and creative writing in the form of plays or short stories, while not assigned by many teachers on a weekly basis, are assigned at some point during the academic year by most of these AP and NWP teachers. Just over three-quarters report having students complete a research paper (77%) or a multimedia project (77%) at some point during the current academic year.  Two-thirds (66%) have students engage in creative writing, such as poetry, a play, a short story or piece of fiction, at least once a year.

In contrast, more specialized types of writing assignments such as writing out mathematical problems or proofs, writing up labs, writing computer programs, designing computer games, and writing music or lyrics are assigned rarely, if ever, by most AP and NWP teachers surveyed.

Figure 3

The type and frequency of written work assigned is obviously highly dependent on the subject matter being taught.  Among Math teachers, for example, 81% report having students write out mathematical problems, proofs or concepts on at least a weekly basis.  And among science teachers, 51% have students write up labs at least once a week and 56% have students write out mathematical concepts or problems.  All of these percentages are much higher than those for teachers of other subjects.

In addition, while 94% of English teachers and 83% of history/social studies teachers had their students write a research paper in the 2011-2012 academic year, that figure is 68% among science teachers and 36% among math teachers.  A similar pattern emerges for multimedia or mixed media assignments, with English (84%) and history/social studies (82%) teachers most likely and math teachers least likely (51%) to have given their students this type of assignment in the prior academic year. Science teachers (70%) fall in the middle.

Figure 4

How do teachers—and students—define “writing” in the digital world?

A fundamental question posed to the AP and NWP teachers in the current study is how they and their students define “writing.”  Specifically, we asked teachers which forms of writing in the digital age—academic writing assignments, texting, social network site posts, blogs, tweets, etc.— are “writing” in their eyes, and which are not?  In a 2008 Pew Internet survey of teens on this topic, the consensus among 12-17 year-olds was that there is a fundamental distinction between their digital communications with friends and family and the more formal writing they do for school or for their own purposes.  Only the latter is considered “writing” in teens’ eyes. 9  Survey and focus group findings in the current study indicate this perception has not changed, either among students or their teachers, and that there remains a fairly strong conceptual divide between “formal” and “informal” writing.  For both groups, much day-to-day digital communication falls into the latter category.

Asked in focus groups to clarify what, specifically, they consider “writing,” the majority of teachers indicated that “formal writing” and “creative writing” fit their definition of “writing.”  Slightly fewer said they would classify “blogging” as writing, and very few said they would consider texting as a form of writing. Asked how they thought students would categorize these same writing forms, the results are comparable.  Most of these teachers do not think their students consider texting writing, but rather confine their definition of “writing” to those exercises they are required to do for school.  A handful of teachers went even further, saying that some students define “writing” only as something that requires them to use complete sentences.

On how students define “writing,” AP and NWP teachers say…

Our kids, over the course of their lives, will write infinitely more than we ever will. I’m 43 years old–half of my life was lived without email, texting, social networking, etc. The fact is, that is writing. Kids have more access points today and those access points are literally at our fingertips and beeping and buzzing blipping…nudging us to write. Incredibly though, students do not see this as “writing.”

Because students still write journals in some classes, I think they still distinguish this from blogging.  I think they see journaling as writing, but not blogging quite yet.  Although, I think that is starting to change as they start blogging for classes.  I think blogging will be viewed as more official writing in the future.

While most AP and NWP teachers in the focus groups said they do not consider texting, blogging, or micro-blogging (posting on social network sites) “writing” in the traditional sense, they believe these digital formats do spur thinking and encourage communication among their students, which may lead to deeper thinking and self-expression. Several teachers characterized these shorter online posts as “pre-writing” that may get a student engaged in a topic or discourse enough to want to write a longer piece about it or explore it further.  In some teachers’ eyes, these digital forms of expression are building blocks for lengthier, more formal writing.

On newer digital forms of writing, AP and NWP teachers say…

These digital technologies give students a reason to write. Social media and texting are very engaging for them; they write reflexively. It is not classic academic writing for sure. But, they do use the written language to communicate. This requires a certain amount of composition activity. Texters must decide the most efficient set of words to include in their message in order to convey meaning. These activities are “pre-academic writing”, but nevertheless for some kids they are formative processes that can lead to more sophisticated composition skills.

Students can write and voice ideas in many different registers. It is often not “academic” writing in the sense that many teachers would consider. However, I think the kinds of real world applicability of student work in classes makes these new digital tools much more relevant for students beyond their schooling years.

I read a fascinating article that talked about the impact of micro-blogging on writing. The piece started talking about how everyone just assumed that when things like Twitter and Facebook began to become more prevalent we would see a decline in our society’s willingness to take the time to write. What the article went on to explain however, was that many people who blurt something out on these sites are also actually taking the time to digest what others are saying on the matter, collaborate or chat with the others who are talking about the same thing, and then in turn they feel more compelled to go on and take the time to compose a longer piece of writing – such as a blog post. I see a lot of truth to this idea. In essence, the micro-blog has become to some their pre-writing.

Teachers in the study say today’s students are expressing themselves more, and more often

Though most AP and NWP teachers who participated in the study do not characterize activities such as texting, tweeting, blogging or micro-blogging on social network sites as “writing” in the strictest sense, there is almost universal agreement among them that the digital ecology in which today’s teens live provides many more avenues for personal expression.  In addition, most agree that many forms of personal expression are more accessible to the average student than has been the case for past generations.  Ultimately, most of these teachers see their students expressing themselves in text (and other formats) more so than was the case when they themselves were in middle and high school.  Asked in focus groups, if students today simply write more, in sheer quantity, most participating AP and NWP teachers agree this is the case.

On whether today’s students write more than prior generations, AP and NWP teachers say…

Digital technologies provide many opportunities to practice writing through participation. Mobile technologies allow one to write, capture, edit, & publish while on the go, anytime, anywhere. Be it at a museum, walk through the old neighborhood, or on a wilderness hike. Writing is no longer limited to a designated time or location.

They enjoy writing.  When you talk to these kids, they like to write.  They don’t like to write when you tell them, ‘I want you to write this.’  But in fact they love to write, and when you look at what they’re writing, they’re talking about themselves and expressing themselves.  Maybe not well but they are speaking their minds, so they are, I think, exploring who they are and what they’re about and they’re reading what other people are writing and looking at, and exploring other people’s feelings and ideas.

The informality of the written word and how students use the language is the downside of technology, but the upside is that students are communicating in the written form much more than I ever did at their age.

The ease of accessibility brought via technology has opened the availability of writing opportunities for students today. Some devices have tempted students to write everything as if it were a text, but teacher focus on this issue can channel the text craze into more academic writing. I think like all technologies, there are good and bad points, but at least the thought processes of writing are taking place.

I think they’re writing more, more than ever, and I think they have a much more positive outlook on writing, not just because of the school…you have Facebook, you have email, you have Twitter…they’re writing constantly.

[other teacher]

92% of AP and NWP teachers surveyed describe writing assignments as “essential” to the formal learning process, and “writing effectively” tops their list of skills students need to be successful in life

The survey gauged AP and NWP teachers’ sense of the overall importance of incorporating writing into formal learning today, and asked them to rank the value of effective writing vis a vis other skills students may need to be successful in life.  The vast majority (92%) say the incorporation of writing assignments in formal learning is “essential,” with another 7% saying it is “important, but not essential.”  Only 11 teachers out of more than 2,000 describe the incorporation of writing assignments into formal learning as “only somewhat important” or “not important.”

These results are not surprising, given the large number of writing teachers in the sample and the focus on formal writing in much of the U.S. educational system.  But the high value placed on writing extends across AP and NWP teachers of all subjects.  While 99% of English teachers in the sample say that writing assignments are essential to the formal learning process, the same is true for 93% of history/social studies teachers, 86% of science teachers, and 78% of math teachers.

Asked to place a value on various skills today’s students may need in the future, “writing effectively” tops the list of essential skills, along with “judging the quality of information.” 10  Each of these skills is described as “essential” by 91% of AP and NWP teachers surveyed.  Again, while large majorities of teachers of all subjects respond this way, English teachers are slightly more likely than others to say that “writing effectively” is an “essential” skill for students’ future success.

Figure 5

Other skills relevant to the current digital culture also rank high as life skills, with large majorities of these teachers saying that “behaving responsibly online” (85%) and “understanding privacy issues surrounding online and digital content” (78%) are “essential” to students’ success later in life. Skills that fewer of these AP and NWP teachers view as essential for students’ success in life include “presenting themselves effectively in online social networking sites” and “working with audio, video, or graphic content.” Fewer than one in three AP and NWP teachers in the sample describes either of these skills as “essential” to their students’ futures, though pluralities do describe each of these skills “important, but not essential.”

Figure 6

Do AP and NWP teachers see continued value in longer writing assignments?

The tremendous value most AP and NWP teachers place on writing of all forms, and particularly “formal” writing, was reflected throughout focus group discussions.  For some AP and NWP teachers, the extent to which today’s middle and high school students engage in what many see as “informal” writing means that “formal” writing assignments are more critical than ever.  Moreover, many see tremendous value in longer writing assignments that require students to organize their thoughts and fully develop complex ideas (particularly because they often have to present ideas on standardized tests in this format).  They see longer, formal writing assignments as an important juxtaposition to the more informal and often more truncated styles of expression in which their students regularly engage.  Throughout focus groups, AP and NWP teachers expressed the belief that students must master all styles of writing in order to be successful across social domains and to communicate with different audiences.

On the value of longer writing assignments in the digital world, AP and NWP teachers say…

There is great purpose and value in teaching students to write long and formal texts. Again, there are a whole lot of ideas that simply cannot be reduced simply without serious distortion or reduction. Consequently, developing complex ideas and thinking often requires longer texts. Writing is a demonstration of thinking, after all. So the deeper and more complex the thinking, the more that is reflected in the writing. As for formal texts, academia certainly requires a greater level of formality but so does a lot of work in the political, legal, and commercial world. Formal writing is almost always a factor that can be used for exclusion. Inability to write formal texts potentially robs students of voice and power. Arguably more important is the ability to recognize and adjust to the context that is appropriate for a given purpose. So knowing when and how to write with greater formality is an essential skill.

The organization and critical thinking skills that must be employed when students write a longer, more formal piece are skills that will students to become better, more engaged citizens. The processes of brainstorming, researching, evaluating, selecting, analyzing, synthesizing, revising are all skills that help students become more critical citizens, more discerning consumers, and better problem-solvers.

To carry an idea out to see if it is “true” to the thinker or not, I think this is so important. I want students to grapple with the complexity of a subject, to see it from all sides by way of a formal written response. Further, I think breaking down that response into its finer parts help me to teach the components that would go into an extended response. An example of this would be a section of their packet simply titled, DEFINITION. Before going into their response, I ask my students to define their terms and to set their parameters for the paper, not only as a service to their readers, but as a guidepost for themselves.

Writing is thinking—and, quite honestly, I don’t think any of us fully knows what our writing is (will be) about until we write it. Writing develops our thoughts and allows us to grapple with the “whats” and the “whys” of life. In this respect, writing informal and formal texts serves as role playing exercises as much as they do anything else. It is practice in being critical, analytical, reflective, informative and so on. We’re shipping young people out into the world where they are going to have to buy a car, a lawn mower, a stove…and they are going to want to read informative reviews before they spend their money. Writing it allows us to become familiar with it–we may never write an informative review once we leave school, but some…many…will want to read reviews before they spend their own money on something. Beyond buying something, I want to emphasize “writing is thinking is role play for life” as a cross-curricular ideal that too often becomes buried as just an English class objective.

Long texts give students the opportunity to deeply analyze an idea. Longer texts are essential to articulate complex concepts and beliefs. Although not everyone will be asked to write a long academic paper for their jobs, the reflection that goes behind this type of writing is critical for everyone. The process of making thinking transparent and clear to others is essential to knowing the why behind the what. The notion of form al texts supports the idea of knowing how to communicate with various audiences. The more registers a person has in his or her arsenal, the more effective that person will be when communicating with a diverse group.

I think that there is value of having long and well organized thoughts about a topic. I think that when we delve deeply into a topic and have to provide an argument or exploration then we must be able to write logically and coherently and be able to develop a point without getting off track. We must be able to write for an audience and provide evidence and delve deeply. I think there are also audience needs to be met when deciding on what level of formality we will write with so I see the value in teaching formal writing. People have to produce reports for colleagues and prospective business partners and college professors so this is obviously a skill that needs to be learned.

Writing is crucial across the curriculum. Good writing teachers teach students how to communicate a logical argument that is well-researched. At my school, I am impressed with the amount our English and history students write as well as the amount our science students write. The IB program does not have many multiple choice tests; therefore, students have to be good writers to perform well on IB exams… The IB program places such a heavy emphasis on communication that the students (and teachers) have adapted their definition to include anything that involves clearly stating ideas and explaining rationale.

While many focus group participants stressed the importance of learning to write in multiple styles—including more “formal” styles—and to write lengthier pieces on complex topics, other teachers questioned the “term paper mentality” and the tendency of some educators to equate length of assignment with complexity of thought.  Some AP and NWP teachers in the study debated the value of longer textual expression today, not just for students but for society as a whole. As many digital tools encourage shorter, more concise expression, these teachers questioned whether mastering more traditional writing styles will be critical for their students moving forward.  While these skills may be valued in standardized testing and in the college and university settings, there was some debate about how useful these skills are beyond those two arenas. Moreover, some teachers questioned whether lengthy writing assignments are the most effective format for teaching students specific writing skills.

Regardless of the length of a student’s writing, I think it is more important to teach students to develop their thoughts completely. If development of thought can come through length or formality then so be it. More important than length or formality would be for students to have a firm understanding about how to organize their ideas in such a way where they can effectively communicate their thoughts and ideas. I certainly don’t think that a teacher should only teach any one kind or length of writing, but the most often I hear the reason we should teach students to write lengthy formal essays is because that is the way they will have to write in high school, which in turn is how they will have to write in college. While I would say there can be value in getting a student dedicated to deeply investigating a certain topic through a longer writing assignment, I would never be willing to teach kids formal writing just because that is the way they do it in high school – there would have to be another purpose.

This almost starts to get at the “how many words should this be question.” I tend to find that when I say 500 words long, kids work to that end and stop. Sometimes they seem to like this better…it’s easy and sure. Usually, I say to make a plan and work to thoughtful response to the assignment and the feedback from their peers. This usually drives more from their thought process that my giving them a word count. Is this a formal text? Not really, but yes at the same time. I think many teachers panic when students deviate from the 5 paragraph essay that they know and understand. The belief seems to be that this serves their needs on the near future high stakes test that are demanded on students. I’m not sure that this serves them past this point.

I don’t think length is a point to pound home with any student. We need to look at the content of a students’ writing the most. If that means a paper has 8-10 pages to it, then so be it, but students need to learn how to sort out what is relevant and irrelevant details and information. Students need to produce well planned, thought out papers that get to the point.

  • “Writing, Technology and Teens,” available at  https://www.pewresearch.org/internet/Reports/2008/Writing-Technology-and-Teens.aspx . ↩
  • For more on the latter, see “How Teens Do Research in the Digital World,” available at  https://www.pewresearch.org/internet/Reports/2012/Student-Research.aspx ↩

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What's the best state for you », students spend more time on homework but teachers say it's worth it.

Time spent on homework has increased in recent years, but educators say that's because the assignments have also changed.

Students Spending More Time on Homework

Make sure you understand your test answers, both right and wrong, in order to identify weaknesses and improve your overall score.

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High school students get assigned up to 17.5 hours of homework per week, according to a survey of 1,000 teachers.

Although students nowadays are spending significantly more time on homework assignments – sometimes up to 17.5 hours each week – the type and quality of the assignments have changed to better capture critical thinking skills and higher levels of learning, according to a recent survey of teachers conducted by the University of Phoenix College of Education. 

The survey of 1,000 K-12 teachers found, among other things, that high school teachers on average assign about 3.5 hours of homework each week. For high school students who typically have five classes with different teachers, that could mean as much as 17.5 hours each week. By comparison, the survey found middle school teachers assign about 3.2 hours of homework each week and kindergarten through fifth grade teachers assign about 2.9 hours each week. 

[ READ : Standardized Testing Debate Should Focus on Local School Districts, Report Says ]

By comparison, a 2011 study from the National Center for Education Statistics found high school students reported spending an average of 6.8 hours of homework per week, while a 1994 report from the National Center for Education Statistics – reviewing trends in data from the National Assessment of Educational Progress – found 39 percent of 17-year-olds said they did at least one hour of homework each day.

"What has changed is not necessarily the magic number of how many hours they’re doing per night, but it’s the quality of the homework," says Ashley Norris, assistant dean of the university's college of education. Part of that shift in recent years, she says, may come from more schools implementing the Common Core State Standards, which are intended to put more of an emphasis on critical thinking and problem-solving skills. 

"You see a change from teachers … giving, really, busy work … to where they’re actually creating long-term projects that students have to manage outside of the classroom, or reading, where they read and come back into the classroom and share their findings," Norris says. "It's not just about rote memorization, because we know that doesn't stick."

For younger students, having more meaningful homework assignments can help build time-management skills, as well as enhance parent-child interaction, Norris says. But the bigger connection for high school students, she says, is doing assignments outside of the classroom that get them interested in a career path.

[ MORE : How Virtual Games Can Help Struggling Students Learn ]

Moving forward, as more schools dive into more time-consuming – but Norris says more meaningful – assignments, there may be a greater shift in the number of schools utilizing the "flipped classroom" method, in which students watch a lesson or lecture at home online, and bring their questions to the classroom to work with their peers while the teacher is present to help facilitate any problems that arise. 

"This is already happening in the classrooms. And I think that idea, this whole idea where homework is this applied learning that goes outside the boundaries of a classroom – what can we use that actual class time for?" Norris says "To come back and collaborate on learning, learn from each other, maybe critique our own [work] and share those experiences."

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Tags: K-12 education , education , Common Core , teachers

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How Much Homework Do American Kids Do?

Various factors, from the race of the student to the number of years a teacher has been in the classroom, affect a child's homework load.

[IMAGE DESCRIPTION]

In his Atlantic essay , Karl Taro Greenfeld laments his 13-year-old daughter's heavy homework load. As an eighth grader at a New York middle school, Greenfeld’s daughter averaged about three hours of homework per night and adopted mantras like “memorization, not rationalization” to help her get it all done. Tales of the homework-burdened American student have become common, but are these stories the exception or the rule?

A 2007 Metlife study found that 45 percent of students in grades three to 12 spend more than an hour a night doing homework, including the six percent of students who report spending more than three hours a night on their homework. In the 2002-2003 school year, a study out of the University of Michigan found that American students ages six through 17 spent three hours and 38 minutes per week doing homework.

A range of factors plays into how much homework each individual student gets:

Older students do more homework than their younger counterparts.

This one is fairly obvious: The National Education Association recommends that homework time increase by ten minutes per year in school. (e.g., A third grader would have 30 minutes of homework, while a seventh grader would have 70 minutes).

Studies have found that schools tend to roughly follow these guidelines: The University of Michigan found that students ages six to eight spend 29 minutes doing homework per night while 15- to 17-year-old students spend 50 minutes doing homework. The Metlife study also found that 50 percent of students in grades seven to 12 spent more than an hour a night on homework, while 37 percent of students in grades three to six spent an hour or more on their homework per night. The National Center for Educational Statistics found that high school students who do homework outside of school average 6.8 hours of homework per week.

[IMAGE DESCRIPTION]

Race plays a role in how much homework students do.

Asian students spend 3.5 more hours on average doing homework per week than their white peers. However, only 59 percent of Asian students’ parents check that homework is done, while 75.6 percent of Hispanic students’ parents and 83.1 percent of black students’ parents check.

[IMAGE DESCRIPTION]

Teachers with less experience assign more homework.

The Metlife study found that 14 percent of teachers with zero to five years of teaching experience assigned more than an hour of homework per night, while only six percent of teachers with 21 or more years of teaching experience assigned over an hour of homework.

[IMAGE DESCRIPTION]

Math classes have homework the most frequently.

The Metlife study found that 70 percent of students in grades three to 12 had at least one homework assignment in math. Sixty-two percent had at least one homework assignment in a language arts class (English, reading, spelling, or creative writing courses) and 42 percent had at least one in a science class.

Regardless of how much homework kids are actually doing every night, most parents and teachers are happy with the way things are: 60 percent of parents think that their children have the “right amount of homework,” and 73 percent of teachers think their school assigns the right amount of homework.

Students, however, are not necessarily on board: 38 percent of students in grades seven through 12 and 28 percent of students in grades three through six report being “very often/often” stressed out by their homework.

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Homework in High School: How Much Is Too Much?

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It’s not hard to find a high school student who is stressed about homework. Many are stressed to the max–juggling extracurricular activities, jobs, and family responsibilities. It can be hard for many students, particularly low-income students, to find the time to dedicate to homework. So students in the PBS NewsHour Student Reporting Labs program at YouthBeat in Oakland, California are asking what’s a fair amount of homework for high school students?

TEACHERS: Guide your students to practice civil discourse about current topics and get practice writing CER (claim, evidence, reasoning) responses.  Explore lesson supports.

Is homework beneficial to students?

The homework debate has been going on for years. There’s a big body of research that shows that homework can have a positive impact on academic performance. It can also help students prepare for the academic rigors of college.

Does homework hurt students?

Some research suggests that homework is only beneficial up to a certain point. Too much homework can lead to compromised health and greater stress in students. Many students, particularly low-income students, can struggle to find the time to do homework, especially if they are working jobs after school or taking care of family members. Some students might not have access to technology, like computers or the internet, that are needed to complete assignments at home– which can make completing assignments even more challenging. Many argue that this contributes to inequity in education– particularly if completing homework is linked to better academic performance.

How much homework should students get?

Based on research, the National Education Association recommends the 10-minute rule stating students should receive 10 minutes of homework per grade per night. But opponents to homework point out that for seniors that’s still 2 hours of homework which can be a lot for students with conflicting obligations. And in reality, high school students say it can be tough for teachers to coordinate their homework assignments since students are taking a variety of different classes. Some people advocate for eliminating homework altogether.

Edweek: How Much Homework Is Enough? Depends Who You Ask

Business Insider: Here’s How Homework Differs Around the World

Review of Educational Research: Does Homework Improve Academic Achievement? A Synthesis of Research, 1987-2003

Phys.org: Study suggests more than two hours of homework a night may be counterproductive

The Journal of Experimental Education: Nonacademic Effects of Homework in Privileged, High-Performing High Schools

National Education Association: Research Spotlight on Homework NEA Reviews of the Research on Best Practices in Education

The Atlantic: Who Does Homework Work For?

Center for Public Education: What research says about the value of homework: Research review

Time: Opinion: Why I think All Schools Should Abolish Homework

The Atlantic: A Teacher’s Defense of Homework

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High Schools Assign 3.5 Hours of Homework a Night, Survey Estimates

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Amidst the current backlash against homework, it would be helpful to get some real data on how much homework we’re actually talking about.

The college of education at the for-profit University of Phoenix recently took a stab at it, asking Harris Poll to survey teachers about the hours of homework they require and why they assign it. The pollsters talked to 1,005 teachers in public, private, and parochial schools across the United States, a group designed to be a representative sample of the nation’s 3.7 million teachers.

High school teachers interviewed said they assign an average of 3.5 hours worth of homework a week. For students who study five days a week, that’s 42 minutes a day per class, or 3.5 hours a day for a typical student taking five classes.

Middle school teachers (grades 6-8) assigned roughly the same amount: 3.2 hours of homework a week, or 38.4 minutes a day per class. That adds up to 3.2 hours of homework a night for a student with five classes. K-5 teachers said they assigned an average of 2.9 hours of homework each week.

The data reflect what anecdotally shocks many parents: homework loads jump in middle school.

Teachers’ top three reasons for assigning homework were to see how well students understand lessons, help students develop essential problem-solving skills, and show parents what’s being learned in school. Just 30 percent of teachers chose covering more content as one of their top reasons for assigning homework.

The survey also finds that the longer a teacher has been in the classroom, the less homework they assign, said Tanya Burden, a spokeswoman for the University of Phoenix.

Here’s a breakdown of weekly homework assigned, by years of experience:

• 3.6 hours (teachers with less than 10 years in the classroom)

• 3.1 hours (teachers with 10 to 19 years in the classroom)

• 2.8 hours (teachers with more than 20 years in the classroom)

Homework has come under fire from parents and administrators who worry that hours of after-school assignments are stressing students out . Education Week recently reported on research indicating that students with heavy loads of homework were significantly more likely to be sleep-deprived, particularly if the homework load had jumped between ages 12 and 15. Others question whether required assignments are necessary for learning .

But doth Americans protest too much? The Atlantic recently ran a group of photos showing children doing homework after natural disasters and war had displaced them. It’s a good reminder that in many places, homework is considered a privilege, not a burden.

CORRECTION (Feb. 28): The original version of this blog post included incorrect figures on the time for homework assigned each day per class for both high school teachers and middle school teachers.

A version of this news article first appeared in the Time and Learning blog.

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What School Subjects Do You Need in High School?

The subjects you study in high school should allow you to graduate, but you’ll also want classes that will prepare you for college and for life as an adult.

  • Subjects Offered in High School
  • Subjects Needed to Graduate
  • Subjects for College Preparation

Picking high school courses is an exciting process. Core high school subjects like math, science, and language arts are required, but a range of others can be selected. Finally being given more of a choice in what a student studies can be freeing, but also may feel overwhelming, confusing, or stressful.

What courses are best? There's no one right path. First, consider what is needed to graduate. Then, take a look at your options.

Parents and teens can work together to choose school subjects that not only engage their interests but also have their future plans and goals in mind.

For example, students who want to go to college may be required to take more years of a foreign language or other classes required by the schools they are interested in. A student who is interested in pursuing a career in construction may want to take an industrial arts class.

Read on to learn more about selecting courses in high school.

Parents / Nusha Ashjaee 

What School Subjects Are Offered in High School?

Most high schools offer the same basic school subjects: Math, language arts, foreign language, science, social studies, health, and physical education (PE).

However, the exact courses may vary dramatically from school to school. Different high schools—even within the same district—often have different course offerings or special programs. If possible, choose the local high school that provides the programs and classes that best suit your needs and passions.

Below is a list of the most common school subjects. However, individual schools may offer a range of specialized classes, such as mindfulness or engineering.

High School Subjects

  • Literature or Language Arts
  • Speech and Debate
  • Writing or Composition
  • Trigonometry or Calculus
  • Biology (typically has advanced class options)
  • Chemistry (typically has advanced class options)
  • Earth or Space Sciences
  • Physics (typically has advanced class options)
  • US Government
  • World History
  • Foreign Language, such as Spanish, French, Japanese, Chinese, Arabic, and German
  • Physical Education and Health
  • Arts, such as Music, Photography, Drawing, or Ceramics
  • Computer Applications, Graphic Design, or Web Design
  • Cooking and other life skills
  • Physical Education
  • Trade field studies such as Auto Mechanics, Woodworking, or Nursing
  • Personal Finance

School Subjects You Need to Graduate

Ideally, teens should start high school with a basic plan of the classes they will need to take to graduate. Every state has different requirements for obtaining a high school diploma, and each school varies greatly in what it offers to give kids a chance to fulfill them. Different schools also vary in the number of classes students take each year.

The school's guidance department can help students understand the graduation requirements and how their coursework aligns with them.

English language arts

Studying the English language and literature is an important part of high school for every student, regardless of their post-school plans. In addition to studying important pieces of literature, English classes teach teens about writing, reading, and speaking.

Most states require four years of English or language arts classes. Colleges require four years of English for admission. The main English classes in high school include:

Mathematics

In high school, students dig into several different types of math . Algebra and geometry are required at most high schools, and students may choose to take advanced math classes if they are offered.

Most states require three or four years of math coursework in high school. The main math classes in high school include:

Basic life sciences (biology) and physical sciences (chemistry and physics) are required at most high schools. These classes often include lab components that allow students to perform hands-on experiments.

Most states require two to three years of science coursework in high school. These may include:

  • Biology (typically has advanced class options)
  • Chemistry (typically has advanced class options)
  • Earth or Space sciences

Social studies and history

Understanding the past and how the world works is important for young adults. In high school, students will study history and government and learn about how social studies affects their lives.

Most states require three to four years of social studies coursework in high school, including:

Foreign languages

Learning a second language is important in today's global world. While many high schools offer foreign language courses, only 11 states require students to take a foreign language course.  

High school students can fill these requirements by learning the basics of at least one foreign language. They may also be able to choose to take advanced classes to learn more.

Common languages offered in high school include:

  • Mandarin Chinese

Other possible language offerings include Russian, Latin, American Sign Language, Arabic, and German.

Physical education and health

Physical education and health classes can teach high schoolers how to care for their bodies' fitness, health, and nutritional needs. These courses often touch on the following:

  • Mental health
  • Sexual health
  • Making healthy choices about drugs, alcohol, and nicotine.

Many states require at least one unit of PE and health to graduate. Other states offer these subjects as electives.

School Subjects for College Preparation

Students planning to go to college should consider how colleges will look at their courses during the application process. Grade point average (GPA) is important, but coursework should also demonstrate academic rigor.

When planning, it can be helpful to balance standard high school courses with some that are more challenging. Additionally, students can do this—and even get a head start on college—by taking advanced placement (AP) or college-level classes.

AP classes are more rigorous courses that teach subjects at an introductory college level. Some of the most common AP courses that are available include:

  • Calculus AB
  • English Literature
  • African American Studies

Students who take AP classes have the option to take an AP test in the spring. If they get a certain score, they can get credit for the course at many colleges.

College credit courses

Many high schools offer opportunities to gain college credit through various programs. Your child's academic advisor, teachers, or counseling department can inform them about such offerings.

These may be online or in-person classes through programs offered by colleges and universities, and a professor or a high school teacher may teach them. Dual-credit programs allow students to fulfill their high school requirements while obtaining some college credits free of charge.

School Subject Electives

In addition to the basic classes, there are usually plenty of opportunities to take electives in various areas of study. These can not only broaden a student's academic knowledge but also teach them valuable life skills and inspire their career aspirations .

In some cases, a student may be given the freedom to choose one class from a select group of options required in the school's curriculum. In others, a student may have room in their schedule to choose to study something simply based on their interests and goals.

Examples of elective classes may include:

  • Arts, such as music, photography, fashion design, painting, theater, dance, or ceramics
  • Computer applications, graphic design, or web design
  • Student government
  • Forensic science
  • Physical education
  • Sports medicine
  • Trade field studies such as auto mechanics, welding, or nursing
  • Personal finance or business

Students on a vocational track may be able to gain some hands-on learning in fields such as metalworks and woodworking. Many schools even offer the opportunity to gain certificates or licenses that will help them in their future careers .

Key Takeaways

Choosing high school classes requires planning both as a student enters school and throughout their high school experience. The right classes are challenging and engaging but not unrealistically rigorous or overwhelming.

An ideal schedule can help a student succeed, enjoy learning, and have a good academic experience while preparing them for their future plans , whatever they may be. Have your teen set up a meeting with their school counselor if they need any help.

The association between neighbourhoods and educational achievement, a systematic review and meta-analysis . J Hous Built Environ . 2016.

50-state comparison . Education Commission of the States . 2019.

High school classes required for college admission . National Association for College Admission Counseling . n.d.

The national K-16 foreign language enrollment survey report . American Councils for International Education . 2017.

Program summary report . College Board. 2019.

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My final exam is worth:

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Calculator Instructions

  • In the top part of the form, enter how much your final exam is worth and the grade that you would like to get in the class. For example, your final test might be worth 20% of your overall grade and you want to get at least a 93% in the class. You would enter these numbers into the form.
  • In the bottom half of the form, enter a description (optional) of the classwork, the grade received for that classwork, and the weight of the classwork. Most class grades are made up of several components such as homework assignments, tests, exams, quizzes, class participation, attendance, etc. For example, a class exam might be worth 10% of your grade and you received a 95% on the test. You would enter those values into the form.
  • If you need more than four rows, press the "Add Row" button to add an additional line. You can add as many rows as you need.
  • Once you have finished entering your grades, press the "Calculate" button and the grade you need on the final exam will be displayed.

Final Grade Formula

final grade = ((g wanted x w total ) - gw) / w final

w total = w 1 + w 2 + w 3 + ... + w final

w 1 = weight of assignment #1

w final = weight of final exam

gw = g 1 x w 1 + g 2 x w 2 + g 3 x w 3 + ...

g 1 = grade for assignment #1

g wanted = grade wanted in the class

Example Calculation

Let's say your class has the following grading plan.

Now let's assume you received the following grades on your classwork.

Finally, let's assume that you want to get a 90% in the class. To determine what you need to get on your final exam in order to get a 90% in the class, let's do some math using the formula above.

First add the weight of all the class assignments together including your final:

w total = 10% + 10% + 20% + 20% + 20% = 100%

Next, multiple the grade you received on each assignment by the weight of the assignment.

gw = (91% x 10%) + (85% x 10%) + (75% x 20%) + (95% x 20%) + (97% x 20%) = 7100%

Now, calculate what you need on the final exam:

final exam grade = ((90% x 100%) - 7100%) / 20% = 95%

This is how you manually calculate your final grade. Of course, you can make your life a little easier using the calculator above!

What if my class grade is based on points rather than percentages?

Let's assume you have the following class syllabus that is based on points.

Let's assume you received the following grades.

To enter these grades in the calculator above, you first need to calculate your grade percentage for each assignment using the following formula:

grade percentage = points earned / possible points x 100

So taking your mid-term test grade as an example, we get the following:

mid-term test = 190 points earned / 200 possible points x 100 = 95%

In the weight column of the calculator, you would enter the possible points for each assignment.

Assuming you wanted to get at least a 90% in the class and your final exam is worth 250 points (i.e.the weight), you would enter the following information into the calculator.

In this example, you would need to get a 93.6% on your final in order to get a 90% in the class.

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How to Homeschool High School: What Assignments to Grade and How

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By request: How to homeschool high school: What assignments to grade and how to do it.

How to Homeschool High School: What Assignments to Grade and How

When I was homeschooling middle school and elementary school with my kids, I rarely graded anything. My goal, at that time was to encourage my homeschoolers to love learning. I did not need grades to do that. We graded spelling tests and would re-take them until I was sure the kids had mastery of the words, but that was about it.

Then we got to high school. In high school grades count! After all, we have to have a transcript with credits and grades and GPA!

So I had to adjust some goals for high school and start grading things. The question was: What should I grade? How do I grade?

One of the first things I learned was: There’s not ONE right way to homeschool high school! That means, there’s not ONE right way to grade. Each teen is different: different goals, different abilities, different needs. That said, there are some guidelines you can use to help.

What Assignments to Grade and How

The first thing you need to do when deciding what and how to grade, is to clarify your goals for each subject. You do not need to get all stressed about it, but it will help if you write these goals down.

For a reluctant or struggling learner, you might want to keep goals simple.

Grade generously, if they deserve it. (You get to decide what that means. For instance, for all of my kids, there was an “attitude” component to subjects they did at home. This replaced what might be a “class participation” grade in a group or co-op class. So my kids who did their work but had a bad attitude, their grade reflected that- because one of my goals was to develop character.)

For average learners, you may grade more assignments

But you may allow re-takes and re-do’s in classes that will matter to life success. In these courses you would be aiming for mastery of a subject, which is more important than a grade on a transcript.

For college-bound learners, you may want to grade many assignments

  • Grading many assignments will benefit a college-bound teen in several ways:
  • Gets them used to being graded (if they had one of those ungrading parents)
  • Helps them learn to work for a grade (I know that’s hard for those of us who have worked against that, but teens need to learn to set grade-earning goals for good transcripts.)
  • Helps them learn to use tools, such as rubrics and syllabi, that they will be using in college
  • Helps them develop self-discipline

For most subjects, you can follow these three variations of grading (we will discuss writing assignments in more detail below):

Only quizzes, tests and projects.

  • Daily homework assignments are required work but not graded.
  • Make sure you are clear with your teen how the grading is done. (If you have a syllabus , you can include this information.) You can say quizzes might count 30% of the grade. Tests and projects would count the other 70%. (Adjust percentages according to your preference- there is not a standardized formula for this.)
  • For many assignments, you can use a rubric (included in 7Sisters writing guides or make your own) .
  • For Math, Vocabulary, Literature Guides and Textbooks, use the answer key for grading. ( 7Sisters curriculum includes answer keys .)

Tests, projects, daily assignments and attitude/participation

  • This is a good way to grade when you know you need to stay on top of comprehension and attitude. In this case, you will be doing a lot of grading but it will help those teens who need this level of supervision.
  • In a case like this you might grade: tests and projects 75%, daily assignments 15% and participation/attitude 10%. (Again, adjust percentages according to your preference.)

Tests, projects and participation/participation

  • Same as above but skip the daily assignments.

Assign grades according to your goals and your teen's abilities.

(Also check out this Homeschool Highschool Podcast episode about assigning grades .)

Okay, now for a little bit on writing assignments:

English/language arts:.

ELA has 5 different components:

  • Public Speaking

Writing is complicated and will have very different goals for different learners. Here are some suggestions:

For a reluctant or struggling learner.

You might want to keep the goals simple: Was your teen able to complete the assignment? You might start with a Pass/Fail system.

As the year progresses, work slowly to increase expectations. Begin to grade but grade generously and explain how you are grading. (As you know, 7Sisters Writing Curriculum has rubrics OR you can develop your own .)

We 7Sisters have our teens, no matter which level they are working, do four kinds of writing each year:

  • Poetry ( 7Sisters Introductory Poetry has bite-sized assignments and helps struggling learners learn to use words more effectively)
  • Short Stories
  • Research Papers (You can go really easily with this freebie report-style paper or this Research Readiness Guide)

Remember, YOU know your homeschool high schooler. Grade according to your goals and what they need.

For average learners

Adjust the numbers and lengths of writing assignments to fit goals, age, and needs . Average learners can have some writing assignments that are just for fun (graded pass/fail). Poetry and short stories would be a good example of this. These writing assignment teach word usage and thinking skills but sometimes can feel intimidating to students without much experience. Build these good skills with a generous grading system.

Grade essays and research paper assignments using a rubric. Make sure your teens use the same rubric to guide their writing. They can grade themselves with the rubric before passing it onto you for official grade. Here’s a guide for creating your own rubrics , but as you know 7Sisters Writing curriculum includes rubrics. Allow re-dos until the grade is A-level.

Grading poetry can be different. Here’s a post with tips .

For college-bound learners

You can use the same guidelines as those for average learners but I would not suggest re-dos after a final draft is handed in. (Rough drafts can have a gazillion re-dos.)

Grade each assignment using a rubric. Make sure your teens use the same rubric to guide their writing. They can grade themselves with the rubric before passing it onto you for official grade. Here’s a guide for creating your own rubrics , but as you know 7Sisters Writing curriculum includes rubrics.

Okay, let’s get real about this. We asked our homeschool friends for a few tips about grading.

Here’s what our wonderfully honest friend, Ticia, at Adventures in Mommydom said:

Grading: Lock myself in a room with a pile of papers, proceed to grade said papers and grumble about how I’m so put upon, and why didn’t I do this earlier? Try to decipher handwriting and generally complain about how I hate grading. Give work back to kids that needs correcting. When done disappear into my bedroom with a giant cup of Dr Pepper, maybe some chocolate, a book, and run a bath for myself.

For more tips for grading, along with rubric, download this freebie .

Remember: There’s not ONE right way to homeschool high school! There’s not ONE right way to grade. YOU decide what’s best for your teen’s goals. As long as you are honest, you have a lot of leeway!

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Grade Calculator

Use this calculator to find out the grade of a course based on weighted averages. This calculator accepts both numerical as well as letter grades. It also can calculate the grade needed for the remaining assignments in order to get a desired grade for an ongoing course.

how many assignments per year in high school

Final Grade Calculator

Use this calculator to find out the grade needed on the final exam in order to get a desired grade in a course. It accepts letter grades, percentage grades, and other numerical inputs.

Related GPA Calculator

The calculators above use the following letter grades and their typical corresponding numerical equivalents based on grade points.

Brief history of different grading systems

In 1785, students at Yale were ranked based on "optimi" being the highest rank, followed by second optimi, inferiore (lower), and pejores (worse). At William and Mary, students were ranked as either No. 1, or No. 2, where No. 1 represented students that were first in their class, while No. 2 represented those who were "orderly, correct and attentive." Meanwhile at Harvard, students were graded based on a numerical system from 1-200 (except for math and philosophy where 1-100 was used). Later, shortly after 1883, Harvard used a system of "Classes" where students were either Class I, II, III, IV, or V, with V representing a failing grade. All of these examples show the subjective, arbitrary, and inconsistent nature with which different institutions graded their students, demonstrating the need for a more standardized, albeit equally arbitrary grading system.

In 1887, Mount Holyoke College became the first college to use letter grades similar to those commonly used today. The college used a grading scale with the letters A, B, C, D, and E, where E represented a failing grade. This grading system however, was far stricter than those commonly used today, with a failing grade being defined as anything below 75%. The college later re-defined their grading system, adding the letter F for a failing grade (still below 75%). This system of using a letter grading scale became increasingly popular within colleges and high schools, eventually leading to the letter grading systems typically used today. However, there is still significant variation regarding what may constitute an A, or whether a system uses plusses or minuses (i.e. A+ or B-), among other differences.

An alternative to the letter grading system

Letter grades provide an easy means to generalize a student's performance. They can be more effective than qualitative evaluations in situations where "right" or "wrong" answers can be easily quantified, such as an algebra exam, but alone may not provide a student with enough feedback in regards to an assessment like a written paper (which is much more subjective).

Although a written analysis of each individual student's work may be a more effective form of feedback, there exists the argument that students and parents are unlikely to read the feedback, and that teachers do not have the time to write such an analysis. There is precedence for this type of evaluation system however, in Saint Ann's School in New York City, an arts-oriented private school that does not have a letter grading system. Instead, teachers write anecdotal reports for each student. This method of evaluation focuses on promoting learning and improvement, rather than the pursuit of a certain letter grade in a course. For better or for worse however, these types of programs constitute a minority in the United States, and though the experience may be better for the student, most institutions still use a fairly standard letter grading system that students will have to adjust to. The time investment that this type of evaluation method requires of teachers/professors is likely not viable on university campuses with hundreds of students per course. As such, although there are other high schools such as Sanborn High School that approach grading in a more qualitative way, it remains to be seen whether such grading methods can be scalable. Until then, more generalized forms of grading like the letter grading system are unlikely to be entirely replaced. However, many educators already try to create an environment that limits the role that grades play in motivating students. One could argue that a combination of these two systems would likely be the most realistic, and effective way to provide a more standardized evaluation of students, while promoting learning.

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Sat / act prep online guides and tips, how many extracurricular activities do you need.

College Admissions , Extracurriculars

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You’ve been working hard in high school to get good grades and test scores, but there’s another part of the college application that many students find more confusing: the extracurricular activity section.

How many extracurricular activities do you need for college applications? How many are too many? Will you get rejected from a school if you don’t have the right amount?

Many students who have participated in activities throughout high school are shocked to look at the Common App and realize there are ten spaces to fill out. Does that mean you have to be involved in ten different activities?

In this article I will tell you:

  • The important things colleges need to see in your extracurriculars
  • The ideal amount of extracurricular activities
  • The minimum amount of extracurriculars you can have
  • What to do if you have no extracurriculars
  • What to do if you have too many extracurriculars

What Colleges Want to See in Your Activities

body_students-3

Before we talk about exactly how many activities you need, let’s discuss why extracurricular activities are important in the first place and what colleges are hoping to learn about you through your activities.

Extracurriculars are one of the most important ways that colleges can learn about who you are as a person and if you will be a good fit on their campus.

Why? These activities show admissions officers many of the “intangibles” that they are looking for in their students. For example, your extracurriculars show admission officers if you can balance your schedule, if you can commit to an activity, the extent to which you can lead or improve something, and what makes you tick.

There are three main things that colleges are looking for in your activities:

  • Dedication: Instead of seeing you jump around from activity to activity, colleges would far prefer to see you dedicate a significant amount of time over an extended period (a few years) to one particular activity. This shows your willingness to make a commitment and your  passion for what you are doing.
  • Leadership: Admissions officers like to see students take control in their activities and show off their leadership skills. This could include things like founding a club, increasing participation in an activity, or leading a project like a fundraiser. Universities hope that someday their students will go on to be leaders on a larger scale in the community, and these activities are a good way for them to gauge if you have the interest and ability to do that.
  • Lasting Impact: This ties in with the previous idea. Admission officers like students who are going to make a difference in the world and leave it better than they found it. So if you are someone who has done just that in an activity, they are going to be more likely to think that you are the type of student they want on their campus. Did you do something to improve a club or organization you belonged to? Did you streamline a process or innovate how your activity is done? Did you leave something better than you found it?

Now that you understand what colleges are hoping to glean about you through your activities let’s see just how many of them you need in order to show off these qualities.

What’s the ideal amount of activities you’ll need in order to impress admissions officers?

How Many “Normal” Activities Should Students Have?

body_theater

The Goldilocks “just right” number of activities is 5 or 6.

This is a good amount because it's achievable for most students without being overwhelming.

Fewer activities than this can show a lack of willingness to branch out and try something new, while having way more than 6 activities is unsustainable for most students. When colleges see students who have 10 or more activities, they will likely assume that you either padded your resume, or that you only showed up to your activities instead of making a real effort to be significantly involved.

In your freshman year, try out a lot of different activities to see what you're the most passionate about.

In sophomore year and beyond, start whittling down your activities so that you're left with the ones you can really make an impact in.  These activities can be almost anything – clubs in your school or community, sports, art, hobbies, or community service.

The key is to choose one or two activities that you will focus most of your time on. In these activities, you should be investing a significant amount of time every week.

"Significant time," of course, can be interpreted differently depending on what activity you are doing. In general, between 5 and 10 hours per week for each main activity is a good benchmark, depending on how many activities you are involved in and how much time you devote to other responsibilities. (Remember to never let your academics suffer at the expense of extracurriculars!)

body_art-2

During your last years of high school, make sure that you show growth or development in these activities and try to take on a leadership role, or at least lead some initiatives. T ake note of some specific accomplishments that you are proud of (don’t be too humble) and can write about on your application – specific details about your achievements will make your hard work much more impressive to colleges.

Round yourself out with a few secondary activities.  You won’t be spending as much time on these, so they should be things that you can have fun with and not have to stress about. On your college applications, these activities will help round you out as a person and show aspects of your personality that may not be visible in your main activities. For example, if your main activities are competing in Science Bowl competitions and doing research at a local college, having something like a stand-up comedy club on your application could show a completely different side of you.

Keep in mind that the main thing is to pursue activities that you are really passionate about.

College admissions advisors care much more about getting a good idea of who you are and why you have pursued certain activities than reading a list of activities you couldn’t care less about but thought would sound good on an application.

Though 5 – 6 is the most ideal amount, that’s not to say that some students don’t do well with fewer activities – sometimes significantly fewer!

What’s the Minimum Number of Extracurriculars I Need for a Competitive School?

body_tennis_player

Surprisingly, you only really need one extracurricular activity , even for a competitive school like Harvard .

However, if that’s all you’re going to have, it had better be one very impressive activity that shows your growth, leadership, and impact.

You will also need to show that you have been significantly involved in the activity all throughout high school.

As an example, let me tell you about a student I knew at college.

The summer before her freshman year, she went with her family on vacation to Malaysia, where she was enchanted by the beautiful shawls local artisans made. She realized that many of the artists who produce these pieces were being underpaid for their work.

On returning home, she decided to take some classes at the local community college in business and web development and then launched a non-profit company that allows people to purchase these kinds of goods directly from the artisans abroad.  Over the next four years, she expanded the business to reach artists in several countries and hired a couple of employees to help her do the work.

This kind of activity shows initiative, leadership, dedication, maturity, and passion – which are each qualities that admissions officers are looking for. Additionally, something of this magnitude would take up pretty much all of your time and not leave a lot of room for other activities.

If you only have one activity of this magnitude, you should run with it and not worry about the blank spaces on your application.

But is one really the minimum amount of activities you can have? What if you don’t have any at all?

Can I Get Away With Having No Extracurricular Activities?

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The short answer to this question is yes; you can get away with having no extracurricular activities.

Some lower-ranked schools completely base their admissions decisions off GPA and test scores.

Additionally, there are several state schools that admit a percentage of students entirely based on the same criteria - ignoring extras such as your activities. For example, the University of California system guarantees admission to one of its campuses to all students who are in the top 9% of California high school students. If you have no activities, it's a good idea to check your state school system and see if it has a similar plan.

Finally, if you have spent your free time in high school doing something productive such as taking extra classes at your local community college, you may find that schools will also look well on that and be willing to admit you despite a lack of extracurriculars.

However, you may not want to go down these paths if you can at all avoid it.

While you will almost certainly be eligible for some schools without extracurriculars, they may not necessarily be the schools you were hoping for.

Unless you have serious extenuating circumstances, most colleges will look at a complete lack of extracurricular activities with disapproval. A student with no activities often ends up looking lazy, unmotivated, and afraid to leave his or her comfort zone.

Therefore, students with no extracurriculars will not be competitive at most schools.

Furthermore, you will be automatically eliminating yourself from the running for loads of merit- and activity-based scholarships, which are often dependent on your extracurricular activities.  If you aren't sure if your after-school activities count as extracurriculars, or if you currently have no extracurriculars and don’t know what to do, see our guide .

But what if you have the opposite issue? Is it possible to have too many extracurricular activities? There are only ten spaces for activities on the Common App. What if you have more than that?

What If I Have Way More Than Ten Activities?

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If you have more than ten activities, you do not need to list all of them.  

In fact, on this part of the application, you can make a good argument that less is more.

Instead of having a long list of activities, it’s much more important to be able to show significant involvement in a few activities.  

Use the Common App to showcase what you consider to be your best activities . Choose the activities that you are most passionate about, have helped you mature and develop skills, have allowed you to make a lasting impact, and that you have spent the most time doing.

This will look different for every student. Some students are genuinely invested in several activities. If that’s the case, then you should list them all. However, most students will only have a couple activities that they have really dedicated themselves to.

Keep in mind that colleges will care less about what you have done and more about why and how you have done it. When you're choosing which activities to write about, focus on those that help tell the story of who you are.    

This means that you probably don’t have to mention the one time you worked backstage on the musical or the ten hours of community service you did freshman year and never thought about again until college applications rolled around.  

Instead, just focus on those that show growth, leadership, and dedication.

If you think about it with that criteria, do you really have more than ten activities?

If you are very concerned about making everything fit, see if you can group activities together. For example, if you have participated in several different volunteer activities, you can lump them together as one.The same thing goes for students who have played several different instruments and don’t have room to list them individually.

You should also consider not filling up the list . I’ll repeat: It is okay to not fill up the whole list, especially if you're including activities that you can’t show to be significant.

Why is this a bad idea? Admissions officers may think that you just signed up for activities to pad your resume, and it may make them doubt your maturity and the sincerity of your involvement in the activities you have listed.

What’s Next?

Check out our list of extracurricular activities if you need inspiration for an activity to choose.

Now that you know what extracurriculars are check out our guide for how to write about extracurriculars on your college application .

Want to improve your SAT score by 160 points or your ACT score by 4 points?   We've written a guide for each test about the top 5 strategies you must be using to have a shot at improving your score. Download them for free now:

Mary Ann holds a BA in Classics and Russian from the University of Notre Dame, and an MA from University College London. She has years of tutoring experience and is also passionate about travel and learning languages.

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  • About Sleep
  • Sleep Facts
  • Sleep Resources

FastStats: Sleep in High School Students

  • The Youth Risk Behavior Survey (YRBS) looks at how much sleep U.S. high school students get.
  • The percentage of high school students who do not get enough sleep in the United States varies over time and by sex, state, age, and racial and ethnic group.

Diverse group of young adults sitting in a line and embracing outside.

  • The Youth Risk Behavior Survey (YRBS) measures health-related behaviors, including sleep, among high school students.
  • High school students who take part in the YRBS are asked: "On an average school night, how many hours of sleep do you get?"
  • The recommended amount of sleep for high school students is 8 hours each day.
  • High school students who do not get 8 hours of sleep each day are considered to have insufficient sleep (also called short sleep duration).

Quick stats

Trends in insufficient sleep, 2009–2021.

The percentage of high school students who do not get enough sleep increased from 2009 to 2021. More female students than male students reported not getting enough sleep during this period.

Insufficient sleep by state, 2021

The percentage of high school students who do not get enough sleep varies by state. In 2021, it ranged from 71% in South Dakota to 84% in Pennsylvania.

Insufficient sleep among high school students, 2021

The percentage of high school students who do not get enough sleep was highest in certain groups, including:

  • Female students (80%)
  • 12th grade students (84%)
  • Black students (84%)

Data sources

CDC National Youth Risk Behavior Survey (YRBS), 2009–2021.

  • Youth Online: High School Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance System (YRBSS)
  • Healthy People 2030
  • National Survey of Children's Health

By sharing information and resources, CDC raises awareness about the importance of sleep health and its effect on public health.

IMAGES

  1. High School Statistics Homework Help

    how many assignments per year in high school

  2. Analyzing ‘the homework gap’ among high school students

    how many assignments per year in high school

  3. How to Grade High School Assignments

    how many assignments per year in high school

  4. Tips to know how to complete school work and assignments

    how many assignments per year in high school

  5. Part II: How Much, and What, do Today’s Middle and High School Students

    how many assignments per year in high school

  6. The School Years: What are the year names and what age groups are in them?

    how many assignments per year in high school

VIDEO

  1. The First Day of High School: Establishing Classroom Expectations and Building Relationships

  2. How to Calculate Your Grade in a Class

  3. Assignments

  4. Study Help: Writing Assignments at Uni

  5. How To Plan Your High School Schedule!

  6. How to Calculate High School GPA

COMMENTS

  1. Students spend three times longer on homework than average, survey

    High schoolers reported doing an average of 2.7 hours of homework per weeknight, according to a study by the Washington Post from 2018 to 2020 of over 50,000 individuals. A survey of approximately 200 Bellaire High School students revealed that some students spend over three times this number. The demographics of this survey included 34 ...

  2. What's the Right Amount of Homework?

    The National PTA and the National Education Association support the " 10-minute homework guideline "—a nightly 10 minutes of homework per grade level. But many teachers and parents are quick to point out that what matters is the quality of the homework assigned and how well it meets students' needs, not the amount of time spent on it.

  3. How Much Homework Is Too Much for Our Teens?

    In that poll teens reported spending, on average, more than three hours on homework each school night, with 11th graders spending more time on homework than any other grade level. By contrast ...

  4. How teens spend their time is changing, but boys and girls still differ

    A new survey by Pew Research Center of teens ages 13 to 17 finds that 36% of girls say they feel tense or nervous about their day every or almost every day; 23% of boys say the same. At the same time, girls are more likely than boys to say they get excited daily or almost daily by something they study in school (33% vs. 21%).

  5. Analyzing 'the homework gap' among high school students

    We began with a general sample of 2,575 full-time high school students between the ages of 15 and 18 from the ATUS, restricting the sample to their answers about time spent on homework during ...

  6. Part II: How Much, and What, do Today's Middle and High School Students

    And among science teachers, 51% have students write up labs at least once a week and 56% have students write out mathematical concepts or problems. All of these percentages are much higher than those for teachers of other subjects. In addition, while 94% of English teachers and 83% of history/social studies teachers had their students write a ...

  7. Students Spend More Time on Homework but Teachers Say It's Worth It

    High school students get assigned up to 17.5 hours of homework per week, according to a survey of 1,000 teachers. Although students nowadays are spending significantly more time on homework ...

  8. What's the Standard High School Curriculum You Should Take?

    At least three years of math, including algebra and geometry, is required to graduate high school. Most colleges require three-four years of math for non-STEM majors, including algebra 1 and 2 and geometry. For STEM majors, most colleges require four years of math, sometimes including pre-calculus and calculus.

  9. How Much Homework Do American Kids Do?

    In the 2002-2003 school year, a study out of the University of Michigan found that American students ages six through 17 spent three hours and 38 minutes per week doing homework. A range of ...

  10. Homework in High School: How Much Is Too Much?

    Based on research, the National Education Association recommends the 10-minute rule stating students should receive 10 minutes of homework per grade per night. But opponents to homework point out that for seniors that's still 2 hours of homework which can be a lot for students with conflicting obligations. And in reality, high school students ...

  11. Helping high-schoolers find the right mix of classes and activities

    A balancing act. Finding the right mix of classes and activities for kids with learning and thinking differences requires some legwork — but it's worth it. Each semester, you and your child can meet with the school counselor to help select courses and discuss interests and goals. During the school year, be sure to talk to your child ...

  12. Table 5.14. Number of instructional days and hours in the school year

    12 Early dismissal of seniors allowed up to 10 instructional days. 13 Students in grade 12 may have their year reduced to 170 days. 14 Minimum length of a day is 3 hours, but the average over a 2-week period must be at least 5 hours. 15 Schools must be open for pupil attendance for at least 3 hours.

  13. High Schools Assign 3.5 Hours of Homework a Night, Survey Estimates

    For students who study five days a week, that's 42 minutes a day per class, or 3.5 hours a day for a typical student taking five classes. Middle school teachers (grades 6-8) assigned roughly the ...

  14. Timeline: Making high school count (article)

    This timeline-view gives you a guideline as to when in your high school career each activity is particularly relevant. Activities with a single checkmark (for instance, under winter of 10th grade year) are generally one-time or short-term endeavors. Activities with multiple checkmarks (for instance, every summer from 9th through 12th grade ...

  15. Fast Facts: Back-to-school statistics (372)

    15.4 million attended grades 9 to 12. 1. Compared to fall 2019 (prior to the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic), public school enrollment in 2021 was 11 percent lower in prekindergarten, 4 percent lower in kindergarten to grade 8, and 1 percent higher in grades 9 to 12 ( source ). In fall 2019, about 5.5 million students were enrolled in private ...

  16. Tables: Secondary/High School

    This section provides tabulated statistics on CTE at the high school level (grades 9-12). Most statistics focus on public high schools and public high school graduates. Statistics for years 2013 forward use the 2018 Secondary School Course Taxonomy to define CTE. Statistics for years prior to 2013 use the 2007 revision to the Secondary School ...

  17. What School Subjects Do Teens Need in High School?

    In addition to studying important pieces of literature, English classes teach teens about writing, reading, and speaking. Most states require four years of English or language arts classes ...

  18. How many essays do you have your students write per year? Am I ...

    I do two full-process: brainstorm, draft, feedback, final draft, and one in-class essay because reading those drafts and final drafts is so godamn time consuming. We do 2-3 a quarter. (So 4-6 a semester). But we usually only do that for argumentative and informative essays.

  19. Final Grade Calculator

    You can add as many rows as you need. Once you have finished entering your grades, press the "Calculate" button and the grade you need on the final exam will be displayed. Final Grade Formula. final grade = ((g wanted x w total) - gw) / w final. Where: w total = w 1 + w 2 + w 3 + ... + w final. w 1 = weight of assignment #1. w final = weight of ...

  20. How to Homeschool High School: What Assignments to Grade and How

    Only quizzes, tests and projects. Daily homework assignments are required work but not graded. Make sure you are clear with your teen how the grading is done. (If you have a syllabus, you can include this information.) You can say quizzes might count 30% of the grade. Tests and projects would count the other 70%.

  21. Grade Calculator

    Grade Calculator. Use this calculator to find out the grade of a course based on weighted averages. This calculator accepts both numerical as well as letter grades. It also can calculate the grade needed for the remaining assignments in order to get a desired grade for an ongoing course. Assignment/Exam.

  22. How Many Extracurricular Activities Do You Need?

    The Goldilocks "just right" number of activities is 5 or 6. This is a good amount because it's achievable for most students without being overwhelming. Fewer activities than this can show a lack of willingness to branch out and try something new, while having way more than 6 activities is unsustainable for most students.

  23. Public high school graduates, by region, state, and jurisdiction

    —Not available. 1 U.S. total includes estimates for nonreporting states.: 2 Estimated high school graduates from NCES 2011-312, Public School Graduates and Dropouts from the Common Core of Data: School Year 2008-09.: 3 Beginning in 1989-90, graduates from adult programs are excluded.: 4 Includes 1,161 graduates in 2007-08 and 1,169 graduates in 2008-09 from private high schools that ...

  24. FastStats: Sleep in High School Students

    The recommended amount of sleep for high school students is 8 hours each day. High school students who do not get 8 hours of sleep each day are considered to have insufficient sleep (also called short sleep duration). Quick stats Trends in insufficient sleep, 2009-2021.

  25. How High School Parents Can Stay Calm As Their Kids Apply To ...

    In the last admissions cycle for fall 2024, over 170,000 students applied to UCLA. Another 118,000 applied to New York University and 105,000 applied to the University of Michigan. In fact, NYU ...

  26. Hooks High School 2024 Graduation Ceremony

    Hooks High School 2024 Graduation Ceremony Video. Home. Live. Reels. Shows. Explore. More. Home. Live. Reels. Shows. Explore. Hooks High School 2024 Graduation Ceremony. Like. Comment. Share. 183 · 100 comments · 3.8K views. Hooks ISD was live. · r o n S s e d o t p 9 m 7 m 7 i h t m 7 g 3 h 9 m 1 i l f u c h 2 m 2 8 a 2 7 8 7 1 3 f f f 0 i ...