Academic demands on the social-emotional health of primary and secondary grade students

With the authorization ofNo Child Left Behind, student performance on high stakes testing has moved to the forefront ofthe education political agenda. In particular, educators have felt added pressures to keep up with the tougher standards movement (Tokarski, 2011). As a result, educators often increase the amount ofhomework assigned to keep up with such political demands (Kohn, 2006). Despite this growing trend, there is little to no research to support this educational practice. Researchers, such as Cooper (1989), found that the effectiveness of homework depends on the grade level of students and time spent on homework. Research findings reveal that there is a positive correlation between homework and achievement at the high school level when students spent between one to two hours on homework. In middle school, Cooper found a positive relationship between homework and achievement when students spent up to one hour on homework. However, achievement significantly drops off after these one to two hour time frames at the secondary level. In elementary school, there was no correlation at all between the two variables. Due to many parents, students and teachers normalizing increasing academic pressure and homework demands as a part of school life, few question the value of its content or fail to recognize the stress that it may cause (Kohn, 2006). Parents and school personnel are also often unaware, or perhaps minimize, the social and emotional impacts such demands are creating for our youth. Now more than ever, local school districts and school psychologists are playing an integral role in assessing and intervening in the mental health needs of children. This comes at a time when there are also intense demands on our youth in their academics, including an increased focus on grades, standardized test scores, and larger amounts of assigned homework (Kohn, 2006). The primary purpose of this project is to develop a workshop wherein participants are provided with a review of the literature surrounding the effects of academic demands on the social-emotional health of primary and secondary grade students. The secondary purpose of this project is to provide recommendations for developing research-based homework policies, and suggestions for implementing policy change within the school. Workshop participants will have the opportunity to work with other members from their district and/or school to develop a homework policy based on the training and recommendations provided. These goals will be met through a six-hour training workshop for teachers, administrators, and other related staff in school districts and/or school sites at the primary and secondary grade levels.