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A Florida School District Is Eliminating Homework in Favor of Reading

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A Florida school district is eliminating traditional homework for all elementary school students this year, asking instead that they simply read for 20 minutes each night.

The new policy — which will take effect when students return to school in Florida’s Marion County next month — is an example of the ongoing debate over the benefits and drawbacks of homework, especially for younger students. The policy will not apply to students in middle school and high school.

Heidi Maier, the new superintendent for the Marion County school district, told the Washington Post this week that she made the policy decision based on research showing that reading boosts academic performance for younger students, while traditional homework might not.

Maier cited research by University of Tennessee education professor Richard Allington, who argues that reading is better alternative to a traditional homework assignment.

A 2006 meta-analysis by Duke University psychology professor Harris Cooper found evidence of a positive correlation between homework and student achievement, but the correlation was strongest for students in seventh through 12th grade. For younger students, there was a weak relationship between homework and performance.

Cooper told TIME last year that he recommends a small amount of homework for young students. But other education experts advocate for no-homework policies, arguing there is not enough evidence to indicate that homework has a positive effect on elementary students.

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Write to Katie Reilly at Katie.Reilly@time.com