While the Department of Education in the state of Attra recommends that high school students be assigned homework every day, the data from a recent statewide survey of high school math and science teachers give us reason to question the usefulness of daily homework. In the district of Sanlee, 86 percent of the teachers reported assigning homework three to five times a week, whereas in the district of Marlee, less than 25 percent of the teachers reported assigning homework three to five times a week. Yet the students in Marlee earn better grades overall and are less likely to be required to repeat a year of school than are the students in Sanlee. Therefore, all teachers in our high schools should assign homework no more than twice a week.
Write a response in which you examine the stated and/or unstated assumptions of the argument. Be sure to explain how the argument depends on these assumptions and what the implications are for the argument if the assumptions prove unwarranted.
The author of this argument casts doubt on the recommendation of the Department of Education in Attra state about daily assigned homework. Data about the frequency of homework assignments and students’ academic performance in the districts of Sanlee and Marlee, serve to demonstrate daily homework’s minor contribution to a decent education. The author therefore claims that students in Attra should not be assigned homework more than twice a week. However, such a conclusion cannot be readily arrived at because of several unsubstantiated assumptions. If these assumptions prove unwarranted, the argument will be seriously undermined, thus compelling us to reconsider the significance of daily homework.
To start off, the author’s conclusion fundamentally relies on the assumption that the frequency in assigning homework is equal to the amount of homework, or more specifically, the time students are expected to spend on homework. Even though the data reveals that a smaller number of teachers in Marlee assign homework three to five times a week, it is imprudent to assume that students in Marlee are thereby under less pressure than those in Sanlee. It is highly likely that even though teachers in Marlee assign homework less frequently, the formidable difficulty of this homework may cost students more time; it is of equal possibility that while students in Marlee may receive modest amounts of homework from their math and science teachers, such an amount is offset by that assigned by teachers in other subjects. If either of the previous scenarios turns out to be true, then the assumption that students in Marlee spend less time on homework is disproved and the suggestion to assign homework less frequently is unreasonable.
Moreover, the author unfairly assumes that students in Marlee generally excel at schoolwork based on overall better grades and less likelihood to repeat a year. However, these two factors do not necessarily represent excellent academic performance, let alone indicate a successful education system. If schools in Marlee and Sanlee adopt different, even distinct standards of grading their students, it is not surprising that there would be variations in students’ scores. Additionally, Marlee district school may be attempting to prevent their academic reputation from declining by allowing students with poor academic performance to graduate. Both of these two cases serve to undermine the facts presented by the author as good indicators of students’ excellence at school. If either of these circumstances proves to be true, then there is reason to doubt the validity of students’ academic performance in Marlee. As a result, teachers in Marlee who assign less homework are not an example that we should follow.
Last, the author’s argument also suffers from a questionable assumption which hastily generalizes the situation of high schools in Marlee to those in Attra. By recommending all high school teachers in Attra to follow the lead of their counterparts in Marlee, the author assumes that students in Attra share similar capabilities with those in Marlee. Nevertheless, teachers should be flexible when teaching and assigning homework and may therefore adjust the amount of daily homework, as well as the frequency of giving homework in response to their students’ performance in their homework. If high school students in Attra absorb knowledge at a relatively slow rate but have strong desire to achieve improvement, they might need and even ask for more homework themselves. In such a circumstance, the author’s proposal to assign homework no more than twice a week is not feasible, but theoretical at best.
To sum up, while homework does not necessarily play a paramount role in enhancing students’ academic performance, we cannot readily ignore its significance. Thus, I propose examining the aforementioned assumptions in this argument before we accept the author’s recommendation.