The Patriot In-Depth: Evaluating the homework load

Bleary-eyed but persistent, senior Lindsey McCumber powers through her essay for Honors English, even though it’s 1 a.m. and she’s just finished studying for an AP Biology test. McCumber tries to plan for five hours of homework every night, but after a long day in class, at club meetings, and then rehearsal for the school theater productions, she is often sapped of energy. She usually has the energy to do three hours of homework and then saves her projects and long-term homework for when she is less busy.

“I don’t have trouble finishing [homework] because I sacrifice sleep for it. Sometimes I go to sleep at 2:30 and wake up at 5,” McCumber said.

In The Patriot’s survey on homework on Nov. 13, 20.6 percent of students reported that they stay up late every night or almost every night in order to get their work done. Certain classes give more homework than others. 40.43 percent of students ranked math as their most homework-heavy subject and 31.18 percent ranked English as the most homework-heavy.

Freshman Elizabeth Butz can be overwhelmed with homework, especially math homework and essays for AP Human Geography. “Sometimes, I have trouble finishing my homework on time when I have too many big homework assignments in one night. It’s so stressful, and it’s hard to get it all done,” Butz said.

“Teachers need to realize that we have homework in other classes. The higher classes you take, the more likely you are to take other high classes. More homework is given and then eventually you reach a point where there is actually not enough time after school to get it done,” said a student in the survey.

The amount of homework students reported getting also varied by class level. 28.6 percent of freshmen answering the survey have three or more hours of homework on an average night, as did 40.0 percent of sophomores, 40.7 percent of juniors, and 53.8 percent of seniors.

Junior Julia Lee finds that she can easily balance her homework load. Lee receives “probably only thirty minutes [of work].” She has math homework every night and often has history and chemistry reading assigned, with only one or two assignments each night. “I don’t really get much homework. I get a lot of projects,” Lee said.

German teacher Ashleigh Stall estimates that most students have at least two hours of homework every night. However, she believes that her assignments should never take longer than half an hour.

Religion teacher Joseph Gallen, head of the religion department and holder of a doctorate in education, agrees with Stall’s estimate. Gallen learned from his advisees that “for family night, [they] all had homework. In fact, most of them said they had more homework than usual.”

McCumber expresses frustration with the amount of homework given in senior year, because seniors have college assignments and scholarship applications on which they are also working. “With rehearsals, club meetings, dinner, sleep, regular homework, and studying, I find that the easiest thing to cut out for times’ sake is sleep. JC’s homework standard is that it completely engulfs the students’ nights,” McCumber said.

Madison Meyer is an In-Depth Editor for the Patriot and