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No-homework policy a winner for school in Cleburne

A charter school in Cleburne lengthened the school day to remove homework from the equation.

CLEBURNE, Texas — Kauffman Leadership Academy is housed in an old Johnson County schoolhouse. Inside the aging building, they’re using a new method of teaching.

“Let kids be kids is kind of how I’ve always looked at it,” said principal Chris Duke.

Hundred seventeen students in fifth through twelfth grades attend Kauffman. It opened three years ago and in those three years, not a single teacher has assigned a single piece of homework.

“Often times, people just don’t like to do homework, and students are people!” said Duke.

Theresa Kauffman has 35 years of educational experience under her belt. Before founding the school, she consulted local parents and found a common complaint. “Two and three hours of homework was interfering with their family life,” she said.

So, at the school that bears her name, she decided to lengthen the school day. Students are in school from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. every day. Classes are 75 minutes each and class sizes are small.

“So, it allows enough time for the students and the teachers to go deeper instead of just skimming the surface of what they’re supposed to learn,” Kauffman said.

When students aren’t grasping a concept, there’s more of a chance to ask questions, senior Caedmon Knapp said.

“We get to work one on one with the teachers much more easily that other schools may,” he said.

Kauffman Leadership Academy was included in a report from The Wall Street Journal about a growing number of American schools that are cutting back on homework.

Some parents complain these policies remove them from the process, but at Kauffman, administrators believe class projects and in-depth discussions are better ways to teach.

“I think there’s been some belief that you practice at school and then you give the brain a rest and you practice it again, and somehow that’s going to help it stick,” she said.

Duke said he thinks homework might help students grasp things faster, but not necessarily grasp it for the long run.

Kauffman said she did not follow a model, and while families like the policy, they’re still looking at how it impacts achievement scores.

The school’s first senior class will graduate in May. How they perform in college could determine whether the policy receives a passing grade.