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The Great Homework Disconnect

Sylvan Learning and NEA research finds attitudes about homework levels vary

WASHINGTON - November 17, 2008 -

Sylvan Learning and the National Education Association (NEA) today released research results showing attitudes about the quality and quantity of homework differ from teachers' and parents' perspectives. 

The study, released as part of NEA's American Education Week (November 16-22), also highlights disconnects between parents and teachers about what homework ultimately accomplishes, and the role of parental involvement in homework assistance.

Listen to NEA President Dennis Van Roekel discuss healthy homework habits in this CBS radio interview.


Key findings from the study include:

  • Sixty-eight percent of parents say that teachers use homework to cover materials they don't have time to teach in class, while 17 percent of teachers say that this is their reason for assigning homework. 
  • Thirty-three percent of parents wish they did not have to be involved in homework as much as they are, while 62 percent of teachers say that parents should be more involved.
  • In two-parent households, there is a perception gap between parents regarding a father's involvement in homework assistance. Sixty-seven percent of fathers claim to help with their children's homework; however, mothers say fathers help approximately 36 percent of the time. Sixty-nine percent of mothers say they help with homework, and fathers tend to agree, with 56 percent of fathers noting their wives' assistance. 
  • Nearly one-third (31%) of parents said that their school did not offer any type of homework assistance, be it informal, formal, free, afterschool study clubs or tutoring. Only 19 percent of teachers noted their schools did not offer homework help.

"The survey findings reinforce the continuous need for ongoing and improved communication between parents and teachers, even in this digital age," says Richard E. Bavaria, Ph.D., senior vice president for education outreach for Sylvan Learning. "For children in need of additional study help, parents and teachers need to work collaboratively to determine the right approach for each child and the appropriate study assistance, be it additional parental involvement or access to supplemental education resources."

The online survey was conducted among parents of children in grades one through 12 in the United States who attend either public or private school, and among educators that teach elementary, middle or high school.

"The results of this homework study point out the continued need for, and importance of, a strong parent-teacher relationship and parental involvement in student homework," said Dennis Van Roekel, NEA president.  "It also drives home our American Education Week theme of 'shared responsibility.'  Everyone-parents, teachers, students, community leaders-must do his or her part in making public schools great for every student." 

During NEA's American Education Week, Sylvan Learning and NEA are offering free homework tips in the "Parent Resources" area of  Additionally, Sylvan Learning's educational presentations, including "Understanding Transitions: Middle School," "Understanding Transitions: High School" and "How to Have Effective Parent/Teacher Conferences," will be available to school systems in order to encourage greater communication between parents and teachers and further a sense of shared academic responsibility.  For more information concerning American Education Week, visit


About Sylvan Learning, Inc.
Sylvan Learning is the leading provider of in-center and live, online tutoring at home to students of all ages, grades and skill levels. With approximately 30 years of experience and nearly 1,200 centers located throughout North America, Sylvan's proven process and personalized methods have inspired more than 2 million students to discover the joy of learning. Sylvan's trained and certified personal instructors provide individual instruction in reading, writing, mathematics, study skills and test-prep for college entrance and state exams.  Sylvan helps transform unique kids into uniquely inspired learners with the skills to do better in school and the confidence to do better in everything else.  For more information, call 1-800-31-SUCCESS or visit


About the National Education Association
The National Education Association is the nation's largest professional employee organization, representing 3.2 million elementary and secondary teachers, higher education faculty, education support professionals, school administrators, retired educators and students preparing to become teachers.

Contact: Christiana Campos  202-822-7823

 Jeff White for Sylvan Learning
 202-296-2002, ext. 110,