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August 12, 2015

This CNN segment highlighting high homework burdens on American students also came under fire on Twitter yesterday.

One of those critical of the segment was EdWeek’s research guru, Holly Yettick. Via Twitter, she broke in with: “Breaking: Single study with convenience sample leads CNN back-to-school coverage.”  Adding later, “K12 ed gets so little airtime on TV. Just wish what it does get could be based on lit[erature] review… [I] wish mainstream ed trend stories could focus on accumulated evidence.”

The University of Arkansas’ Gary Ritter piled on, adding “AND, headline did not represent findings well; alt headline: “Way too little HWK for HS kids.”

And the Brookings Institute’s Tom Loveless pointed out: “In 9/13 grades, the homework load is less than 10 mins/per night per grade. Strange headline.” And later: “Survey conducted in 27 pediatric offices in Providence, RI.”

The notion that American kids are getting too much homework has become somewhat widespread in recent years, though researchers like Yettick point out that these stories aren’t always the result of carefully-constructed studies and can tend towards exaggeration.

To her credit, CNN’s Kelly Wallace responded positively to the criticism, pointing out that “We touched on the dramatically different feelings about HW in this piece …

Yettick responded: “Yes, Kelly, loved that you did link to a review! Just wish it could have been the lead.”

Back to school stories like these may not be taken very seriously by beat reporters who cover education every day but they can represent one of the few times each year that broadcast outlets like CNN address education, shaping the views of thousands of viewers.

Related posts: Back To School 2015 Stories I’m Antici-DreadingThe Tricky Appeal Of The “National Teacher Shortage” Narrative. #bts15

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Alexander Russo is a freelance education writer who has created several long-running blogs such as the national news site This Week In Education, District 299 (about Chicago schools), and LA School Report. He can be reached on Twitter at @alexanderrusso, on Facebook, or directly at