Tom Loveless, senior fellow and director of the Brown Center on Education Policy at the Brookings Institution, has been making trouble again. His latest report asks, “How Well Are American Students Learning?” It upends hitherto highly regarded research based on data from several countries that says more time for instruction and homework has a negative correlation with achievement — in other words, the more teaching at school and more homework at home, the less you learn.
Loveless thought that didn’t make much sense, given other research that associates more time on task with more learning. In the report, he comes at the international data from a different direction, focusing on changes in instructional and homework time rather than on static measures. He finds that class time strongly correlates with achievement and that the apparent negative effect of homework disappears.
I was thinking: uh-oh. New data on homework, anything on homework, is always going to get mixed reviews. The pro- and anti-homework camps are dug in, their artillery lined up, their troops heavily armed. Loveless is a conscientious researcher, but I suspect he will pay for his attempt to clarify the issue.