Lake Oswego Middle School scraps graded homework assignments

Mark Williams, News Editor

Lake Oswego Middle School is no longer grading work assigned to be completed outside of the classroom. Teachers are still able to assign homework as supplementary material but in order to make the school environment more equitable, only work designed to be completed in class will be graded. Removing mandatory homework assignments is intended to accommodate the various challenges students face outside the classroom. Teachers cite internet access difficulties, inadequate technology and challenging home environments as potential factors causing students to be incapable of completing all of their schoolwork.

Math teacher Cathleen Steele has taught Geometry at LOMS to many current LOHS students. High school students will recall the famous purple homework stamp sheet used to track homework progress throughout a math unit. The purple stamp sheet has not left the Geometry classroom but instead has faced some changes. “I still have a stamp sheet and keep track of who is doing homework and I don’t allow [test] retakes unless all the homework is done,” said Steele. Students are still assigned the same amount of homework and are still expected to demonstrate completion. However, that completed homework will not count toward their grades. This has been less punishing for students who would typically not complete the homework, but also made the class more dependent on tests for grading. 

While making homework more optional can ease the workload of middle school students, some LOHS teachers express concern that LOMS students may not be ready for the expectations of their classes. However, many freshman teachers are simply unsure of what to expect in the coming school year. “I would like to learn more about it, talk to those middle school teachers,” said freshman English teacher Marcy Huss. One concern Huss shared was how a lack of homework grades would affect students’ grades. “If everything was eliminated except for major assessments it would raise anxiety among the students” as grades would be more focused on assessments. 

While homework generally causes grumbling among students, some students feel middle school homework is necessary before being confronted by the workload of high school especially before grades start appearing on the all important high school transcript. Some students argue they would rather learn homework and studying habits early, giving them time to make mistakes and learn without as many consequences. Conversely, some LOHS students believe that removing the burden of homework in middle school is more equitable and allows middle school students to live their best life. For student athletes it may allow them more time to hone their skills before high school and catch more sleep. For students lacking home resources or having a less conducive environment for homework the policy would take stress out of the student experience.