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No homework for students? Some Rochester classrooms are testing the waters

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ROCHESTER, Minn. (FOX 47) -

Imagine this: teachers not giving students homework.

The idea has been getting some traction across the country.

And right here in Rochester, a pilot program testing that idea out is underway in some Rochester Public School District classrooms.

Now, don't get too excited just yet, this is only a pilot program, a testing of waters, of sorts.

“What we want to see is if the amount of homework or homework or not, does it have an impact on student achievement, or not?,” explained Rochester Public Schools Superintendent Michael Muñoz.

It's every kid's dream, no matter the age...having no homework.

"Well it helps me because we have football five days a week,” said Gibbs Elementary third-grader Ayden Espenson.

Especially in an era where kids are busier than ever.

Another third-grader Grace Lunde, who along with Ayden goes to Gibbs Elementary, said its especially helpful for her on Wednesdays and Thursday nights because she is busy with dance.

"The students, at first, were really surprised and asked a lot of questions about it because they couldn't believe that they actually weren't going to have to do homework,” said Melissa Eckhoff, who is Ayden and Grace's third-grade teacher at Gibbs.

It's all part of a pilot program some Rochester Public School classrooms are trying out: not giving students homework all school year long.

"You have to look at it as, what is the purpose of homework? You know, really what you're trying to do is give kids an opportunity to practice a skill that you taught them, and that can be done in a classroom,” explained Muñoz.

Gibbs Elementary third grade students and teachers are part of the pilot and so far, the program's positives have outweighed the negatives.

"You can read, you can spend time with your families. You know, a lot of these kids are in activities at night and that's taking up a big chunk of family time,” said Eckhoff.

Eckhoff also said that students are less on-edge without the responsibility of returning to school with completed work.

“They're more positive because they're not coming to school with 'I have to turn something in to my teacher' and 'what if I forgot it at home' or 'we didn't have time as a family to do this last night.' So they're not coming as stressed as they were before,” explained Eckhoff.

Aside from more family time and feeling less stressed, with no homework, kids also have more fun.

"I always read after school, because it's just fun. Or I can play outside or read to my brother,” said Grace.

"I go in the backyard and play football with my friends," said Ayden.

In ten years from now, when they get that diploma, the hope is skills and learning have been mastered, whether they used traditional homework methods, or in-the-classroom work.

"Are there other ways for us to assess and determine if students master the skills we're teaching them? A lot of our kids are involved in so many things beyond school, and this may give them an opportunity to do some of the things they want to do after school,” said Muñoz.

“We encourage our teachers to be innovative and to try new things and obviously if they find something that works very well then we want to have a conversation about possibly expanding it across the district,” said Muñoz.

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