The Gevirtz Homework Project received its impetus from the Gevirtz Research Center Co-Founder, Marilyn Gevritz.The Gevirtz Homework Project was designed to provide upper elementary students the opportunity to participate in regularly scheduled, on-site homework sessions and receive assistance in academic areas. Credentialed teachers and instructional assistants helped students to complete assignments and maximize their learning. The three-year implementation and research of the Gevirtz Research Center’s Homework Project was successfully completed in the Santa Barbara Elementary School District. As a result, the model was also adopted in Santa Barbara Junior High School, La Cumbre Junior High School, Cesar Chavez Charter School and Dos Pueblos High School. The Gevirtz Homework Project was also implemented for three years in four elementary schools in the Bakersfield City School District in Kern County.
The Gevirtz Homework Project had three major objectives:
The Gevirtz Homework Project was based on the premise that a consistent homework policy should be emphasized and implemented in the school setting. Homework was defined as student learning activities conducted outside of school hours. It included schoolwork and/or assignments that either could not be completed during the normal school day or work that the teacher felt should be completed after school.
The Gevirtz Homework Project sessions took place after school, 3-4 times a week at the student's school of attendance. The first 15 minutes of the hourly sessions were designated for the arrival of students, organization of homework materials, and the distribution of nutritious snacks. The subsequent 45 minutes were designated for homework completion and development of study skills.
Homework assignments related specifically to the major curricular areas including language arts, mathematics, science, and social studies. Homework was in the form of practice assignments, which reinforced newly acquired skills or knowledge, and extension assignments, which promoted student creativity, choice, and initiative. Extension assignments frequently were long-term, ongoing projects that emphasized student production (i.e., research report, book report). Study skill instruction, such as note taking, organizing, researching, and scheduling assignments, was also included during the homework sessions.
Basic supplies were made available to all student participants. Each student received a personal homework binder, dividers with tabs, notebook paper, pencil case, pencils, and a calendar in an effort to help teach organizational skills.
The evaluation component of the Homework Project assessed the project's impact on participating students by comparing their outcomes to those of a control group. All fourth grade students at the participating elementary schools (Washington, Franklin, and Peabody) were offered the opportunity to participate. All children whose parents consented were assigned to the control or participant group using a stratified random assignment. Stratification was based on gender, level of academic functioning (high, medium or low), and English fluency (full English proficiency or transitional from Spanish to English). The level of academic functioning and English fluency were determined by each student's fourth grade teacher.
Data were collected on students in the homework and control groups when they first entered the program and at the beginning and end of each subsequent year. Test scores, student surveys, teacher ratings, and parent ratings were used. The research design examined the change from pre- to post-test on measures when possible, while contrasting the differences between participant and control group students. The hypothesis was that assistance with homework would affect academic achievement. In addition, it was hypothesized that how students feel about themselves as students, and the extent to which they feel supported by others, are important factors in facilitating academic achievement.
The following questions were addressed:
Quantitative findings indicated that the Gevirtz Homework Project served a “protective” function for Limited English Proficiency (LEP) students; that is, participating LEP students in the program were rated higher than their LEP counterparts in the control group on their academic effort and study skills. Thus, it appeared the LEP students were the ultimate beneficiaries of having a homework program available to them in terms of being perceived by their teachers as appropriately engaged in the academic work of classrooms. Also, it was found that students who attended a greater number of homework sessions across all three years of the project had higher achievement scores by the end of the 6th grade in reading, math, and language. Student-rated self-efficacy and future aspirations were higher for high attendees as well.
Qualitative findings uncovered examples of many individual teachers and students who reported positive gains from participating in the project.
In interviews, teachers commented: