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Education

SOUTH COAST — Oregon ranks number one in the nation when it comes to assigning students homework over the Thanksgiving holiday.

The study was done by online learning platform Brainly, which looked at 1,000 U.S. students. The survey first asked students what they were most grateful for ahead of Thanksgiving and then what their schoolwork plans are over the fall break, according to a press release from the platform.

“While 51 percent of American (students) say they have homework assigned, 55 percent say they don't study over the break,” the release said. “Though some students get to have a mental rest, others are continuing their studies and keeping their minds active.”

Oregon topped the states that assign homework over Thanksgiving at 71 percent, followed by New York at 64 percent and New Jersey at 62 percent.

The World took a look at two local school districts to see how they compared to the national study. At the Coquille School District, Superintendent Tim Sweeney said he was surprised by the study’s results.

“We’ve talked a lot across the state about how kids are feeling overwhelmed and need to dial back the stress,” Sweeney said. “With all the things I’m seeing with what Oregon demands of its students and the stresses they are under these days, I’m surprised we have teachers piling on over the break time across the state.”

To combat the stresses students are feeling, CSD made the decision four years ago to end the trimester before the Thanksgiving holiday and spring break.

“Nov. 26 is the last day of the trimester,” Sweeney said. “Students don’t meet with their new classes until Dec. 2, so there is no homework at the high school and middle school.”

But at the elementary level, some homework is assigned to students at CSD. Sweeney said elementary students are kept reading over the break but never have anything due when they get back like a book report.

“We have one teacher at the elementary school who asks students to interview family coming in for the holiday they don’t normally see,” Sweeney said. “So when they get back from break, they learn about biographies. They don’t have to do these interviews over the break, but the teacher thought there’d be more accessibility to family members during that time.”

Meanwhile, winter break is low on homework levels for students, according to Sweeney.

“The bigger issue at winter break is how many sports practices there are and the travel that comes with that,” he said. “Basketball and wrestling squads need family time.”

At the Coos Bay School District, Superintendent Bryan Trendell said Thanksgiving break is often seen as just another weekend.

“Sometimes you have homework over the weekend for the following week,” Trendell said. “I’ve never known anyone who gave extra homework over the holidays. If there happens to be homework, there happens to be homework.”

However, homework levels at CBSD have lessened in the past 20 years. According to both Trendell and Marshfield High School Vice Principal Floyd Montiel, homework has decreased across the board as teachers accommodate students who may not have internet access or a place to do homework after school.

“There has been a little bit of a drop in homework across the board but as far as rigor goes over the holiday, that doesn’t change,” Montiel said. “Some teachers try to finish their lesson or unit before the holiday so that time is dedicated to family.”

For Trendell, when he looked back at his own time in school he doesn’t remember ever having much homework over the holidays. Watching his own children go through school in the district, they always seem to have homework but it depends on the class level.

“They are taking tougher classes than I did in high school,” he laughed.

Montiel added that some teachers he spoke to about assigning homework over the holidays said they are hesitant to give extra work because they know some students are on the road over the break.

“I think this is a time for families and that’s why we have the break, to celebrate the calendar day but to (also) celebrate who we have to be with,” he said. “Families are important.”

Reporter Jillian Ward can be reached at 541-269-1222, ext. 235, or by email at jillian.ward@theworldlink.com. Follow her on Twitter: @JE_Wardwriter.

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