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Homework Practices that Support Students with Disabilities
Research Connections
Spring 2001

Homework Practices that Support Students with Disabilities

Access to all aspects of the general education curriculum is emphasized by the 1997 amendments to the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). Homework is one of these aspects.
Marjorie Montague
University of Miami


Homework is one aspect of the general education curriculum that has been widely recognized as important to academic success. Teachers have long used homework to provide additional learning time, strengthen study and organizational skills, and in some respects, keep parents informed of their children's progress. Generally, when students with disabilities participate in the general education curriculum, they are expected to complete homework along with their peers. But, just as students with disabilities may need instructional accommodations in the classroom, they may also need homework accommodations.

"There is little question that homework has taken on a position of significance in American education," Edward Polloway, researcher at Lynchburg College, says. "At the same time, with the movement towards inclusion of students with disabilities in general education classrooms, the challenges for these students to be successful are increased by the greater reliance on homework as an adjunct to instruction. Without attention to the need for adaptations in homework assignments, research and practice would suggest that we have little reason to be optimistic about the potential success of these students."

It goes without saying that many teachers routinely make homework accommodations for students with disabilities. What can research offer to support their practices?

The literature on homework goes back to the early 1900s, but only in recent years have researchers have considered its relationship to students with disabilities. Many special education researchers have undertaken investigations of homework funded by the U.S. Department of Education, Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP). These efforts address how homework might best be used to improve learning results for students with disabilities and are the focus of this Research Connections.

Next: What Have We Learned About Homework and Students with Disabilities

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