Fruithurst, AL is one of those places where we say, “you can’t get there from here.”   It is little more than a wide place in the road in Cleburne County between Heflin and the Georgia state line on old US Highway 78.

And just on the north side of the highway sits one of best elementary schools in Alabama.  I became familiar with the school in 2008 when we did our study of 10 high-poverty, high-performing rural schools we called Lessons Learned from Rural Schools.  Christy Hiett was the new principal in the school where she went and in the community where she grew up.  I made a number of trips there, even went to a Fall Festival one night.

Today Christy is Dr. Hiett and the school is still a special place.

So special in fact that WBRC television in Birmingham was recently there  to learn about the new no homework policy implemented at the start of the current school year.  You can see the news clip here.

Christy explains that research does not support having homework for elementary students.  “Honestly, we want children to have time to be a child,” she says, “instead of spending time at the dining room table working on meaningless assignments.”

Response from parents has been very positive and Christy has a wall full of pictures of her students now doing gymnastics, helping their parents and grandparents, playing games, etc. at times when they used to be doing homework.

She also sees results at school.  “Our children are reading more and hitting reading goals earlier than ever,” Hiett adds. “That prompted me to investigate if the kids were reading more since they didn’t have homework. They were reading A LOT MORE! During August of 2015 the students checked out 1915 books. During August 2016 the students checked out 2910 books! Our enrollment is very similar this year so it is almost the same number of students for both years. 

I looked a little deeper into Accelerated Reader. I wanted to see how many reading quizzes the children were passing. I compared the exact same children that we have this year so that factored out the 6th graders that left last year. I wanted to compare apples to apples. In August of 2015 the children passed 797 reading comprehension quizzes on books they read by themselves. In August 2016 the children passed 1543 reading comprehension quizzes,” says Hiett.
That is strong evidence that the no homework policy has benefits.  An interesting and neat idea from a special little school.  (And let the record show that Christy is an Auburn grad.)