“Only there yet I can accept them” - why teachers abandon struggling students who don't do their homework

“Only there yet I can accept them” – why teachers abandon struggling students who don’t do their homework

When Gina, a fifth grader at a suburban public school on the East Coast, does her math homework, she never has to worry about whether she can get help from her mom.

Jenna’s mother, who is married, is a mid-level manager at a healthcare company, explained us during an interview about a study we conducted on How do teachers see students who complete their homework versus those who don’t.

“Maybe I’m trying to re-explain things, like things you might not understand,” Jenna’s mother continued. “Like, if she’s struggling, I try to teach her a different way. I understand Jenna is a very visual kid but she also needs to hear things too. I know that when I read it, write it, say it to her, she understands it better.”

one of us is Sociologist Who looks at how Schools prefer middle class families. the other is Professor of mathematics education who checks How do math teachers see their students? based on their work.

We were curious to see how teachers reward students who complete their homework and punish and criticize those who don’t—and whether there is any connection between these things and household income.

By analyzing student report cards and interviewing teachers, students, and parents, we found that teachers gave good grades to homework effort and other rewards to students from middle-class families like Gina, who happens to have college-educated parents who play an active role in helping their children to Complete their homework.

But when it comes to students like Jesse, who teaches at the same school as Gina and is a child of a poor, single mother of two, we find that teachers have a more somber outlook.

The names “Jessie” and “Gina” are pseudonyms to protect the children’s identities. Jesse can’t count on his mother to help with his homework because she struggled at school by herself.

Jesse’s mother told us about the same study: “I had many difficulties in school.” “I had behavior problems, attention deficit. And after seventh grade, they sent me to an alternative high school, which I thought was the worst thing in the world. We literally did, like, first and second grade work. So my education was horrible.”

Jesse’s mother admitted that she still couldn’t figure out the split to this day.

“[My son will] Ask me a question, and I’ll look at it and it’s like algebra in fifth grade. Jesse’s mother said, “What is this?” “So it’s really hard. Sometimes you feel stupid. Because it’s fifth grade. And I’m like, I should be able to help my son with his fifth grade homework.”

Unlike Jenna’s parents who are married and own a home of their own in a middle-class neighborhood, Jesse’s mother is not married and rents a place in a mobile home community. She had Jesse as a teenager and was raising Jesse and his brother mostly alone, despite some help from her parents. Her son qualifies for a free lunch.

property rights issue

In fairness, we think teachers should take these kinds of economic and social inequalities into account in how they teach and classify students. But what we found in the schools we observed was that they usually didn’t, and instead seemed to accept inequality as destiny. Consider, for example, what a fourth-grade teacher — one of 22 teachers we interviewed and observed while studying — told us about students and homework.

“I feel like there is a pocket here — less income pocket,” said one teacher. “And that turns into less support at home, not getting homework done, not returning and signing things. It should be about 50-50 between home and school. If they don’t have support at home I can still take them yet. If they won’t They go home and do their homework, there’s not much I can do.”

As teachers learn about the different levels of resources students have at home, they continue to assign homework that is difficult for students to complete independently, and reward students who complete the homework anyway.

Middle-class students often have many advantages that other students do not have when it comes to getting help at home with their homework.
Kentaroo Tryman via Getty Images

Consider, for example, how a seventh grade teacher described his approach to homework: “I post the answers to the homework for each course online. Kids do the homework, and they’re supposed to check it out and see if they need extra help. They do, there’s an amazing relationship between that and positive scores. Kids who don’t do that bombard.

“I need to let parents know that they need to review homework with their students, check if it’s right or wrong, and then ask me questions. I don’t want to use class time to review homework.”

The problem is that the benefits of homework are not evenly distributed. Instead, research shows that students from higher-income families make greater achievement gains through homework than students from lower-income families.

This relationship is found in both we And the Dutch schoolsand suggests that homework may contribute to disparities in students’ performance in school.

harder struggles

On top of the disproportionate academic benefits, the research also reveals that understanding assigned math homework in US schools is often more difficult for parents who have Limited educational attainmentparents who Concerned about sports content. It is also difficult for parents who I learned mathematics using different curricula than those currently taught in the United States.

Meanwhile, students from more fortunate families are disproportionately more likely to have a parents or a private teacher Available after school to help with homework, as well as parents who Encourage them to ask their teachers for help if they have questions. They are also more likely to have fathers He feels entitled to interfere in school on their behalf.

Misconceptions about merit

In the schools we observed, teachers explained the inequality in homework by what sociologists call merit legend. The myth is that all students in the United States have the same chances of succeeding in school and that any differences in student outcomes are the result of different levels of effort. The teachers in our study said things in line with this belief.

For example, a third grade teacher told us, “We’re dealing with some kids who are really struggling. There are parents I’ve never met. They don’t come to conferences. There was no communication at all. … I’ll write home notes or emails. No They never respond.There are kids who never do their homework, and parents are clearly OK with that.

“When you don’t have that support from home, what can you do? They can’t study on their own. So if they don’t have parents to help them with that, it’s hard for them, and it shows.”

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