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Los Angeles Schools Blasted for Limiting Homework

Education experts are blasting a new plan by the Los Angeles Unified School District to make homework just 10 percent of a student’s grade, calling it a “travesty.”

Michael Petrilli, executive vice president of the Thomas B. Fordham Institute for Advancing Educational Excellence says it takes away one of a teacher’s incentives for students to do their homework.

“It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out how to get kids to learn more: Challenge them, ask them to work long and ask them to work hard. Homework is essential, as is making it count,” Petrilli said.

The new policy, to be implemented on July 1 for all students in kindergarten through grade 12 in the district’s 885 schools, will impose the 10 percent limit to try to compensate for those who may be getting less academic help at home.

A committee of parents, teachers and principals contributed to the policy, which states: “It is unfair to penalize or reward students for their home academic environment. While some students do not have the opportunity to homework while away from school thus failing to return assignments, for others it is difficult to be sure it was the student who actually did the work.”

Currently, each school weights homework differently for the district’s 650,000 students.

“We're not trying to give students less homework, we’re just trying to eliminate ‘busy work’ and make the homework the students do more meaningful,” the district's chief academic officer, Judy Elliot, told FoxNews.com. “This is in no way letting kids in urban areas off the hook from doing homework. It has been an intentional and thoughtful process.”

According to Elliot, homework has in the past been used as a punitive measure rather than a formative one, which hurts students' grades rather than reinforcing material learned in class. She also blames the home environment students live in for their poor homework performance.

LAUSD isn’t the first district to devalue homework credits.

Schools in Fontana, Calif., and Capistrano Unified School District in Orange County, Calif., have cut down the amount of homework students have, especially in elementary schools, and even prohibiting homework on the weekends, according to the Los Angeles Times.

In New Jersey, the Galloway Township School District is going to vote on a policy that would let teachers assign homework only Mondays through Thursdays, and the amount of homework per night would be limited to 10 minutes multiplied by the student’s grade level. The school board is not expected to vote on this until July or August.

But Frank Wells, spokesman for the California Teachers Association, one of the state’s largest unions, says he was surprised about this policy since it is California State Law that teachers determine the final grade for a student.

“For whatever policy is instated in schools, teachers should be the ones to have the final say on what is actually enforced," he said.

This belief is echoed by other teacher unions in the state.

“This policy is taking the control right out of the teachers hands and undermining their authority in the classroom, and on top of that, according to California Educational Law, its not even legal,” said A.J Duffy, president of the United Teachers of Los Angeles

However, Elliot said, “Everyone has been clapping for this initiative since Day One -- parents, teachers and principals. Everyone is so thankful.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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