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Placentia-Yorba Linda USD Applies Hanover’s Research to Develop New Homework Policy


Time is the currency of education, and we never have enough of it. Hanover is able to conduct the research we need more quickly and extensively than we could using our internal resources. These data are then used to develop our board updates and guide our decision-making discussions.

Candy Plahy
Assistant Superintendent of Educational Services


The Placentia-Yorba Linda Unified School District (PYLUSD) is a high-achieving district with 34 school sites located in northeast Orange County, California.

In response to the emergence of the new California Content Standards and California Local Control and Accountability Plan (LCAP), PYLUSD sought to ensure its administration had sound data to guide the development of future educational services polices.

Based on recommendations from fellow California superintendents who used Hanover’s research support to address similar needs, PYLUSD Superintendent Dr. Doug Domene established a partnership with Hanover in the fall of 2013.

In the first 18 months of partnership, Hanover helped the district examine its homework policy, analyze the extent to which its district-created mathematics assessments were Common Core-aligned, evaluate its gifted education program, and synthesize the information contained in PYLUSD’s LCAP data portrait to identify trends and goals for the district.


DISTRICT NEED: Determine the correct amount of homework to assign students at different grade levels

PYLUSD’s long-standing homework policy required a thorough re-examination. As such, the district’s school board asked administrators to form a committee of teachers, parents, and community stakeholders to evaluate PYLUSD’s homework policy and the consistency with which this policy was implemented across schools.

Dorie Staack, Director of Elementary Education and Categorical Programs, spearheaded this initiative. Ms. Staack sought Hanover’s support to help the committee develop a new homework policy by providing national-level best practices and district-level stakeholder insights.

HANOVER APPROACH: Conduct best practices research and analyze stakeholder survey results

STEP 1: Identify current education
literature and best practices
STEP 2: Analyze stakeholder feedback
  • Review national trends in homework assignment;
  • Evaluate the impact of homework on academic achievement and other student outcomes;
  • Define age-appropriate levels of homework, and how to design and structure these assignments; and
  • Outline practices in parental homework involvement.
  • Survey parents, students, and teachers regarding homework organization, communication, and effectiveness, based on grade level and program;
  • Identify trends in homework opinions across schools, programs, subjects, and grade levels; and
  • Understand gaps between the amounts of time teachers expect homework assignments to take and how long students actually spent on these assignments.

COMMITTEE PROCESS: Leverage research findings to inform policy development, decision-making discussions, and communication efforts


STAKEHOLDER IMPACT: Praise district for giving families additional home-time with their children

Regarding the value Hanover provided to her team and the homework committee, Ms. Staack stated:


In a standards-based curriculum, it is often easy to push towards increasing students’ homework load. Hanover helped us concretely identify that we were assigning more homework than research suggests is appropriate for each grade level. We were able to develop and successfully implement a new homework policy consistently across schools. Each step in the policy development process was grounded in research, and as a result, PYLUSD’s parents, teachers, and students are already benefiting from the new policy.

As the partnership continues, PYLUSD will use Hanover’s custom research and syndicated briefs from the Education Library to evaluate potential interest in a dual language immersion program, support its LCAP reporting process, conduct district-wide parent surveys, inform school board discussions and strategy, and further the initiatives of the educational services team.

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