*While the Department of Education in the state of Attra recommends that high school students be assigned homework every day, the data from a recent statewide survey of high school math and science teachers give us reason to question the usefulness of daily homework. In the district of Sanlee, 86 percent of the teachers reported assigning homework three to five times a week, whereas in the district of Marlee, less than 25 percent of the teachers reported assigning homework three to five times a week. Yet the students in Marlee earn better grades overall and are less likely to be required to repeat a year of school than are the students in Sanlee. Therefore, all teachers in our high schools should assign homework no more than twice a week.*

Write a response in which you examine the stated and/or unstated assumptions of the argument. Be sure to explain how the argument depends on these assumptions and what the implications are for the argument if the assumptions prove unwarranted.

The author is arguing that the daily homework scores of Sanlee are inflated by teachers who assign extended homework, and as such, should be discarded in favor of a modest homework load for high schoolers.

In the cited school district, teachers appear to be assigning homework according to their own priorities, rather than to that of the district’s curriculum. A survey of teachers’ attitudes towards homework, therefore, is meaningless. It is entirely possible that teachers in Marlee, for example, believe that the weekly homework load is excessive, and that students are better served by devoting the rest of their time to more engaging activities. This belief is borne out by the district’s results, as students in Sanlee are consistently assigned higher grades than their counterparts in Marlee. The teachers in Sanlee may be more concerned with meeting state testing requirements than the curriculum, while those in Marlee may place more emphasis on raising student morale, and providing reinforcement of concepts taught in class.

The author makes the assumption that all teachers in Sanlee assign homework. This assumption is unfounded, as the district’s data represent only a fraction of the 1,600 teachers in its high schools. The few teachers who do assign homework three to five times a week represent a statistical anomaly, and should be taken with a grain of salt. Sanlee’s results therefore cannot be used to draw conclusions about the effectiveness of daily homework for all teachers. If the district were to conduct another survey of teachers, and to compare their perceptions of homework with the results of this current survey, a clearer picture of the role of homework in high schools might emerge.

The author argues that all teachers should assign homework only two or three times a week. This recommendation is also flawed, as it flies in the face of the fact that some teachers in Marlee assign homework every night, while some in Attra only assign homework once or twice a week. If the author were to mandate that teachers in Attra assign homework only two or three times a week, this would leave many teachers in the middle, or in districts that do not have nightly homework assignments, feeling unnecessarily burdened. Furthermore, if teachers in Attra were to institute a daily homework policy, students there would miss out on valuable practice with new concepts, and would likely perform worse in terms of overall academic achievement. A more reasonable approach would be for the Department of Education in Sanlee to require that homework be assigned no more than three times a week, while leaving it to individual teachers to determine how often it is assigned.