Ellicott Mills Middle School Will Stop Grading Math Homework Of Students

Howard County Board of Education (HoCoBOE) Member Chao Wu shared information relating to the future homework policy at Ellicott Mills Middle School as it relates to math homework. According to the letter sent out to parents, starting on December 2nd math homework will continue to be assigned but will no longer count towards a students grades. Here is what was shared:

HoCoBOE member Chao Wu posted the following comments on Facebook:

Ellicott Mills Middle School changed their math homework grading policy: not grading math homework any more. I am hoping they will closely examine this change: the students’ math performance before and after this policy change. I love our system to make changes, at the same time, I want to know the result from such changes. A performance evaluation mechanism should be set up in a timely manner. How long will this change be supposed to last? What is the performance indicator? When can we say this change is good or bad? When should we keep or abandon this change?


I have a series of questions:

Are there other schools in Howard County that have implemented this policy or a similar homework grading policy?

What do other members of the Board of Education think of this policy? Apparently the HCPSS is supportive of this policy change at EMMS: “This strategy has the support of the HCPSS Office of Secondary Mathematics, EMMS administration, and special education department”.

What incentive is there for students to do math homework in the future? It will not be graded and answers will be provided in Canva or in class.

What measurements will be in place (and reported to parents) to ensure that the students at EMMS will not fall behind their peers in the county due to this new policy?

The statement in the memo that stood out to me was the “Offering homework as non-graded practice will empower students to determine when it makes the most sense for them in their learning process with great flexibility of time. Students who show mastery on assessments will be able to determine how much practice they need.”  While I understand what they are saying I know that I would not have been able to determine how much practice I needed at that age. I would have seen it as an easy out in the evenings and focused on getting the other graded homework assignments completed.

I am neither for or against this policy change at the moment…but VERY interested in seeing if this policy change has the desired outcome.

Do you have additional thoughts or questions. Let me know in the comments.

Article update: For those interested…here is the referenced article: http://crescendoedgroup.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/03/Equitable-grading-Leadership-Mag_NovDec.pdf

Scott E

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  1. Personally, I love this idea. It would have changed my son’s life for the better if it had been in place for him. Instead, because he was highly disorganized, he was punished for missing homework all the time. And yet, he did well on assessments. Thats what he should have been graded on.


  2. A test case scenario at one school is good. However, Wu is correct. What is the baseline? What is the performance measure? What is the analysis plan?

    IMO, This paradigm would only work if the student had multiple, un-time constrained, open ended chances to practice, develop and demonstrate mastery in multiple standardized assessments on the same material. Which in theory is not a bad idea – like taking the bar exam ten times, until mastery is proven. But K-12 doesn’t work that way. The tests themselves are odd constructs.


  3. Also, I laugh when HCPSS touts its “research based” practice. Show me the analysis of the research. First, not all research is good science. Two, one must mirror the structure of the research for it to apply. Three, one must follow the research structure with fidelity for it to apply. THIS – HCPSS never does. Nor does it apply independent, quality control testing of ongoing programs.


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