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Published: Wednesday, 1/26/2005

Delta: No homework? Court may be next

BY JANET ROMAKER
BLADE STAFF WRITER

Middle school students here who fail to turn in their homework in the classroom could wind up in a court room.

In an effort to help reach a district goal of "higher expectations for students," a new homework policy, aimed at a small group of students who routinely blow off homework assignments, has been implemented.

Under the new policy, a student habitually late with assignments faces a three-day suspension, and with a second offense, the student could be ruled as unruly for disobedience in juvenile court and possibly be placed on probation, said Principal Dennis Ford. The hope is, he said, that the new policy will motivate students to do their homework.

Through the years, a variety of interventions has been tried, but "we found out they weren't working. We couldn't get it through to the kids that homework is important," Mr. Ford said.

Homework is essential to student success, said Pike-Delta-York Superintendent Russ Griggs. "Homework needs to be meaningful activities that support and expand upon the content standards covered in the classroom. With the achievement levels expected under the current accountability measures it is not possible to reinforce all concepts during classroom time," Mr. Griggs said. "The learners must take an active role in the learning process. We need the support of parents and guardians working with the teachers for students to reach their full potential. Developing and supporting good work habits related to homework contribute to learning and good work ethics on the part of the student."

In the past, several students have failed a grade level because they have not passed two of the required five core classes. An investigation showed that those students didn't do their homework and because of that, they lacked skills to pass tests, quizzes and other projects, according to Mr. Ford.

He emphasized that the new policy will impact a small population in the PDY middle school. Mr. Ford estimated that a total of 18 students in grades 6, 7, and 8 is at risk of flunking if they fail to complete their homework. Students in the seventh grade seem to be the worst offenders, he said. The excuse typically? "They say they do not have the time," he said.

Students who have legitimate, valid excuses won't suffer the same penalties as students who routinely say they lost their homework or that the dog - or computer printer - ate it.

Students were alerted several weeks ago that the new policy was being implemented, and in December letters were sent home. The PDY board of education recently approved the new policy, and since implementation, some students have been suspended, but so far no student has been sent to court.

"What we are saying here is that there is a consequence," Mr. Ford said. And, to the students, "we are saying you are responsible."

Contact Janet Romaker at: jromaker@theblade.com or 419-724-6006.



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