How Valuable is Summer Homework?

Lucy Dixon, Staff Writer

During summer, students look forward to relaxing and not having to bully their brains into learning. However, for some students, there is always that one thing during summer that everyone dreads and leaves until the last week of summer vacation or skips altogether–summer homework.

At JI, most classes with summer assignments are honors, IB, or AP classes. For students in these classes, summer assignments are a nightmare.

Summer assignments cause problems with equity, hurt students’ morale, and are not enjoyable or helpful.

According to LP Tutoring, a tutoring resource for teens, “Many low-income students don’t have the time and/or money to complete a summer assignment. Some teens are working 40 hours a week (even during the school year) to help pay the rent or put food on the table.

Other teens are babysitting younger siblings all summer while mom and dad work. Many can’t afford the assigned book, the needed supplies, the museum ticket, or transportation to a free place or event. These kids are smart and would do well in advanced classes, but just can’t get the summer assignment completed. We are setting them up for failure and/or keeping them from even signing up for the course.”

When it comes to money spent on summer work, 63% of honors students at JI have spent more than $20 on a summer assignment, according to students I surveyed. Spending money on an assignment is not an option for some students, and their grades could suffer because of this.

Equity is important in schools and for many students summer work is extremely difficult to get done. Students like these might take a college prep class when they should be in honors classes just because honors classes have summer work.

LP Tutoring also said, “(Students) are starting the year already stressed about the class. Kids usually end up with so-so grades or even a 0. This can have serious consequences for students… When Johnny didn’t complete his summer assignment, he tanked his 1st quarter grade. The one assignment could imperil his high school graduation.

In one school, all students had to complete four (yes, four) summer assignments to participate in activities. Not only were MANY students denied access to school activities, but it became a paperwork nightmare for the staff.”

Starting the year with a zero can greatly decrease a student’s motivation, and according to a survey at JI, only 72% of honors students complete the summer work, and of those students 87% do the work last minute. The other 13% complete the work in the middle of summer and no students do the work in the beginning of summer.

When students cram the work into the last few days of the summer it can cause a buildup of stress and a bad attitude towards their classes before the year even starts.

Students feel discouraged when they see a failing grade the first day, and may not work hard in the class because they already feel like they are doing poorly. Summer work is usually weighted heavily as well, which can cause students to have a failing grade on their first report card.

Do students enjoy the summer work? According to the survey, 27% of the students enjoyed a few of the books assigned to them, but no one said they have ever enjoyed a writing, science, math, or history assignment. In fact, 73% of the students surveyed said they have never enjoyed a summer assignment.

When asked how well the summer work prepared the students for the class from 1-5, 1 being least helpful and 5 being most helpful, 63% of students answered 1, 18% of the students answered 2, 9% answered 3, and 9% answered 4. None of the students rated it 5.

According to a student, “I respect the intention of [summer work], but it does not help the students in any way. I think it is a waste and just causes stress.”

Another student said, “Shouldn’t be a thing. Only reviews should be given out if you want to review.”

A third student said, “I think it’s somewhat useless just because most of it doesn’t contribute to the lessons we work on when we start school. I get that it’s a great way to see a students work ethic and their style of writing but teachers could try and incorporate some of their summer work into their unit one lesson.”

Some other responses were: “It’s stupid and counterproductive,” “I think it’s pointless, it doesn’t have anything to do with the rest of the things they teach us,” ”It’s a waste of time, I understand why we get it but it doesn’t help much,” “I think it is helpful but it is a waste of my time, and I would like to have the summer to do whatever I want and not think about school.”

Students work all year and having a summer break without school work is extremely important. Summer break should be a time for fun and relaxation, and summer assignments are not good for students’ well-being. Summer work causes problems with equity, discourages students before the first day, and according to students, is not effective.