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Why Assign Summer Homework


Maria Carrillo’s summer homework is limited to honors and AP in grades 10-12, and the requirements are consistent with many similarly successful schools in California.  Throughout our history, the English department has found that summer homework is beneficial and necessary to support the Honors and AP curriculum.  Our honors program feeds directly into our AP courses and the work students complete during the summer is the additional preparation we have found essential for the demanding courses and college credit exams.  Because of the rigor and depth required for college level work, the departments recognize that the traditional school year can be insufficient to prepare students in some cases. We have found that the sooner students experience the level of work required, the better understanding and success they have in the course. Additionally, we have also found it necessary to demonstrate to students the high expectations of the course so that they do not enroll in the course and then drop it in the first three weeks of school because they find it too demanding.  This allows us to schedule classes with realistic numbers and alleviate the scheduling problems of students transferring out of Honors and AP classes when school begins which impacts Maria Carrillo as a whole.

  • This practice links learning beyond the school and school year, reinforcing that learning is a year-long/life-long activity.
  • Summer homework helps students maintain reading/writing/thinking skills; musicians, athletes and others practice their “craft” year round, as should scholars.
  • Research reveals that students lose skills over the summer break—it is often called the “summer slide.” Johns Hopkins sociologist Karl Anderson suggests that “we need to provide children with strategically planned, structured summer experiences . . . summer programs can be an important part of that strategy by providing a variety of experiences that challenge children, develop their talents, keep them engaged, and expand their horizons.”
  • Choice is included in some of our assignments; therefore, not all of the reading is a “core” requirement, rather an “extended” work is also an option in some cases.
  • The “core” text is referenced immediately and the class is engaged from the first week in school in a challenging atmosphere, allowing the class to have a common experience in the first days of school.
  • Summer homework allows the teacher to assess both the class as a whole and a specific student’s strengths and weaknesses in order to modify the planned curriculum—an important aspect of teaching advanced students.
  • A number of colleges/universities “honors” programs require summer reading (e.g., Brandeis University); since AP is a college-level class taught at the high school, such a practice is not unreasonable—and, since honors courses feed into AP, the practice is more than germane.
  • MCHS AP English students have extremely high passing rates on both the Literature and Language AP courses. It’s our opinion that summer reading and work contributes to this success. 
  • Some parents and students themselves will select readings and activities on their own that will enrich and support their various curricula; our contribution to their reading and study over the summer ensures that students have an equal opportunity for being successful, for having a common experience and an equal starting point during the impending school year.