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The Equity Issue

Working around and with the bumpy playing field.

Some say that homework favors more advantaged students who have access to technology at home and, likely, an engaged parent to help them complete assignments.

Because of this inequality issue, last fall the French government proposed eliminating homework in elementary and junior high school, arguing that it puts poorer students at a disadvantage. Greg Green, principal of the flipped Clintondale High School in the Clintondale (Mich.) Community School District, agrees, and believes flipped learning provides all students a chance to succeed by doing school work under teacher supervision, and receiving immediate feedback. “It really levels the playing field for kids,” Green says. “Not all students have a support mechanism, when practicing and going through work. We want any student who’s going through the learning process to be with the expert, and understand things before they leave the facility.”

With at-home assignments that increasingly require technology and internet access, districts must consider options for students who may not have such tools at home. At Clinton- dale, students can use school computers to complete their homework assignments if they lack the resources or a good working environment at home, Green says.

At Florida Virtual School (FLVS), an online K12 public school, students have access to virtual learning labs in both classrooms and libraries as well, according to Michelle Licata, the 2012 FLVS teacher of the year award recipient. FLVS also implemented a Laptop for Learners program, Licata says, which loans laptops to students in need while they complete their courses.

Increasing access to smartphones, on which students can do research or watch videos, across socioeconomic classes in recent years is also helping bridge the gap. “There are still concerns around the digital divide. But if you look at reports, we’re seeing that trend on the decline,” says Greg Levin, senior vice president of school solutions for K12, Inc. “It’s definitely not erased, and there are socioeconomically disadvantaged families who maybe don’t have access, but with cell phones, you’re seeing that not be as much of an issue.”