MICHELE NORRIS, Host:
This is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News. I'm Michele Norris.
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And I'm Melissa Block.
A study a few years ago called homework the most haphazard educational practice in America's schools. Yet most teachers, parents and students still seem to think it's absolutely necessary.
NPR's Claudio Sanchez has the latest findings from a survey about homework and why it gets on everybody's nerves.
CLAUDIO SANCHEZ: There's a big disconnect between teachers and parents when it comes to homework. That's one of the key findings in the survey commissioned by the insurance giant MetLife. Veteran teachers said homework is crucial to students' academic success in school. Most assigned homework to help students build skills like reading comprehension or to help them prepare for tests. One out of four teachers rated the quality of their homework as excellent.
But one-third of parents rated the quality of homework only fair to poor. Parents also complained there's too much homework. It takes up way too much time and deprives their children of sleep.
Susan Kidd(ph) is a mother of a high school senior in suburban Maryland.
SUSAN KIDD: There's lots of homework and you want to make sure that what you're child's givens, if they're going to be continuing working for a couple of more hours that is quality work that they're doing but there's some - they're going to bring something away from it.
SANCHEZ: Kidd was among several teachers, students and researchers that MetLife brought together to talk about homework and why it's such a lightning rod - pitting parents against teachers, kids against their parents, and teachers against every body.
Tell me about it, says Amber Pabon, a middle school reading specialist in New York City. She says homework is not always a priority for her students.
AMBER PABON: What I've seen my classroom is that students go home with lots of responsibilities - chores, taking care of siblings - I work in a high-poverty school, so the realities that they face are an obstacle to take any work done.
SANCHEZ: So under those circumstances, I asked Pabon, should teachers cut back on homework.
PABON: A lot of the teachers - there's never too much homework.
SANCHEZ: Students may take issue with that. But surprisingly, the survey found that most students, especially in high school, think homework is valuable.
Marisol Williams(ph) is a senior at Bethesda-Chevy Chase High School, just outside Washington, D.C.
MARISOL WILLIAMS: It invokes that sense of responsibility and commitment that we need to have and ownership of our own worth because later on, in the future, we will have to complete tasks on time.
SANCHEZ: Still, a fourth of the students surveyed said homework often has little to do with what they're studying in class, so kids don't take it seriously. The vast majority of students said, they listen to music, watch TV and gossip with friends online while doing their homework.
Claudio Sanchez, NPR News.
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