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Can Giving More Homework Improve Test Scores For Children?

ce Survey (TIMSS) for 1995 and 2003, selecting 18 nations to examine overall trends. They presented their findings at the annual Comparative and International Education Society in Baltimore, Md.

"An overlooked factor is the quality of the education in a nation's public schools," the researchers say. "Some developing nations with fewer resources may see an increase in student achievement with more homework because the homework helps student to catch up in their skills. Students in schools of well-funded nations may not need to spend as much time on homework."

For U.S. schools, the study shows a negative relationship between higher homework amounts and student achievement in elementary schools, and only a very small benefit in middle schools. At the middle school level, the students who did some homework, but not excessive amounts, seem to score the best. The U.S. falls into the "balanced" pattern of homework completion found in many nations where students who do modest amounts of homework (30 minutes to an hour an a half per night) have higher test scores that peers who do no homework or those who study more than four hours per night.

"We may need to know more about the specific relationship between national policies or practices related to homework," the researchers add. "The role of homework in a child's life and a nation's educational policies has been hotly debated, and there is now a significant backlash in the U.S. against homework."

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