SAMPLE STUDENT ESSAYS WITH TEACHER COMMENTARY:
Student Essay A: rubric score of 5
- Counterarguments only briefly addressed
- Style and voice are passionate, essay is a pleasure to read and is creative
- Mixes anecdotal evidence with logical arguments
- Considers and addresses audience
- Complex sentence structure and sophisticated vocabulary
To whom it may concern:
I write today on behalf of all high school students who feel they are given too much homework for one night. We
understand that we’re just around the block from college, and must work very hard to reach a grade point average
that satisfies both our parents and ourselves, but to do so, the homework policy needs to change. High school
teachers should limit the amount of homework to forty minutes a night, for these very good reasons.
The first is because of our extra-curricular activities. Parents and teachers recommend that we get involved in an
organized sport or complete some hours of community service because it would look good on our college
application. It might even increase our chances of getting into our desired school. And while we are involved for the
fun part, we are also thinking about how great it looks on college applications. What university would turn down a
devoted student in school and in sports or community service? Balancing both activities takes responsibility, focus,
and attendance, it is only fair to make this possible by giving us more time to do this.
Homework should also be limited because students need time with their families. You yourself may be parents and
members of the Board of Education, just as we are students and daughters or sons. Spending time with the people
you love should not have to be something you make time for, it should be already included. Some people take for
granted those moments at the dinner table, sharing what your day was like, and what you learned. But it is those
very minutes that increase the bond between parent and child. Care givers are not worried about their childs safety
when they are at home. What is relatives fly into town, and you wanted to join them? Oh, wait, you can’t
remember, you are stuck with homework. No student should ever have to encounter his.
Lastly, students need time to themselves, a chance to recollect their thoughts and emotions that have been taken
away from the stresses of the day. This may be taking a shower, or even sleeping. Have you ever needed just five
minutes peace? The time to think of nothing but little important things that don’t make a great difference. You could
do some reading, watch tv, study for an exam. In today’s world, there are so many things on one’s mind, school,
work, family, it’s nice when you can pretend that everything is fine.
Student Essay B: rubric score of 5
- Develops arguments with logic and emotion (uses a range of evidence)
- Shows understanding of audience
- Addresses counterarguments
- Style is functional—vocabulary is accurate but not sophisticated
- Small errors in punctuation
Dear SMMUSD Board of Education,
My name is ______________ and I am a freshman at Santa Monica High School, also know as Samohi. Everyday
homework is assigned in almost every class. There are many people who would like to eliminate homework or
even limit the amount of homework. I feel that homework is a very important part of school, but it should have
some limits placed upon it.
There are approximately 180 teachers at Samohi and 3,500 students. Teachers are not always able to tend to the
needs of every student in their classes. Homework is used for reinforcing what you have learned each day in your
classes. Also, to insure that you are understanding the material. Teachers use homework as a way to see who is
understanding the material and to see who is not. There are those who would say that you should be learning in
class and if you do not understand ask the teacher. Being that there are only 56 minutes in a class it is hard at
times to get to everyone. Certain people who are shy or embarassed to ask a question are often those who the
teachers use homework as a way to help. By having homework in classes you are able to help those who do not
understand and those who are just reinforcing what they have learned.
You are able to take up to a maximum of seven classes at Samohi. If homework is assigned in every class you
could find yourself with a couple of hours of homework each night. Some teachers assign a lot of homework and
there are some who don't. Because not every person works at the same rate the time it takes may vary. By having
too much homework eachnight some students may become stressed, and unable to handle the amount of work.
The more homework that there is the better you will understand that material. But if you are too stressed you
cannot complete the work and your grades might fall. If each class assigned less homework the students are less
likely to become stressed. There would also be a higher rate of people doing the work and turning it in.
Without homework in schools you become less prepaired for the future. At the SMASH alternative school you have
the choice of doing homework or not doing it. One of my friends who attended that school never had any
homework. He now is failing some of his classes and barely passing some of them. Because he never did any
homework he feels that he doesn't have to do it here at Samohi, You may be thinking you don't have to do any
homework when you have a job. Some jobs that is true but in others it isn't. To get a god job you have to go to
college. To get into a good college you have to get good grades in highschool. Without homework you have a
harder time succeeding,
Homework is a very important aspect of school and your future. There has to be homework daily to insure good
grades. There is however such thing as too much homework. I hope that you will strongly consider having limits
placed upon homework but also that you can see the importance of not eliminating homework all together.
Thank you for taking time to read my letter, and remember the importance of homework. I hope that this letter will
help you in your decision.
Score of 4
Student Essay C: rubric score of 4
Teachers’ Commentary: Even though evidence isn’t thoroughly developed and essay lacks counterarguments,
style is a pleasure to read and student demonstrates command of language, placing it in the 4 range
To whom it may concern,
I am a local student at Santa Monica High School and I am having some concerns with the pressure on the student
body of your school. As you undoubtedly know, the student at your school are constantly pressured to suceed in
school, succeed in sports, go to college, set a god job and teach there children to do the same. But frankly, this
image of a perfect lifestyle has brought students over the edge and some of them snap, which is why I feel
measures should be taken to reduce this stress. Basically what im getting at is that students should have no
homework in your district, and I have 3 good reasons why.
First of all, many students juggle sports, clubs, and homework after school. After already being pressured with the
schools work in class that day, they must now go home and rush to practice, rush back home, do there homework,
and go to sleep. This kind of schedule barely leaves any time for personal goals. Persuing your interests has been
dropped second to your grades, and with such little free time how can you blame someone for becoming stressed?
If you really want to do everything you want to you will have to cut it out of time for sleep.
And that is exactly what students are doing. Statistics show that teenagers are prone to lack of sleep, and its
wearing away at there bodies. Ive also noticed that the coffee bean near the entrance of SAMO is almost always
filled with students in the morning. Sometimes the line is even far outside of the door and you would be late to
class if you plan to wait in that line, which many students do. And this is even worse if you have an A period class,
and especially if you are a woman who wakes up early to put on makeup, do your hair, etc.
And lastly, there is tension between the students at the school. It is shown that fights break out more often during
upcoming vacations, and finals, when there is increased homework and increased pressure in school. If only
subconsciously, the students tend to snap during these times. So therefore, I think it would help relieve stress and
anxiety if homework were completely abolished from the system.
And I understand how removing homework can make it harder to teach the curriculum, so I think compromising
and allowing an extra hour to school time would help because students are more productive during school anyway.
So because of there reasons I hope you can agree with me and relieve students stress, and thank you for your
Student paper D: rubric score of 4
- Has all components of a 4 (counterargument, evidence, organization)
- Style: uses good vocabulary but is wordy
- Two body paragraphs—both have counterarguments—but analysis is not insightful and thesis is
confusing ("hourly limit"?)
Dear SMMUSD board of education,
My name is _______________ and I am writing to you to express my thoughts on the homework policy in the
SMMUSD school district. I believe there should be a restriction on the homework policy. It should be reduced to an
hourly limit per day but not abolished completely for two reasons including the fact that it is tedious but still
necessary and it can be very excessive and put a lot of stress on a student.
The first reason why homework should have a limit and not be completely abolished is although it is tedious it is
still necessary for a student to have. If a teacher gives a lesson to a class and the student don’t understand very
well they can practice at home, but when too much is given the student has less of a desire to do it. This causes
them to start falling behind. This has happened to me personally. I didn’t understand a lesson in pre-algebra class
and the amount of homework given that night on that lesson was very long and tedious resulting in no desire for
me to do it. The next day our new lesson was built off of it and had to do with what we did they day before but
added on. That happened for a long time and I ended the semester with a C- as a final grade. This was in sixth
grade and I have learned to seek help when this happens but not every student will do the same. Some may agree
that in order for a student to understand their needs to be a lot of homework. Something more effective to do would
be to give a low amount homework addressing different parts and have the teacher go over what the students
didn’t understand the next day in class. This is much more effective than giving a lot more homework and
expecting every student to understand.
The second reason why homework should be reduced to a limited amount of time every night is it can easily
become excessive and put a lot of stress on the student. Not all students have the same classes everyday and
therefore they will vary in the amount of homework they are assigned each day. This results in each teacher not
knowing how much homework a student has been assigned each day. If a teacher doesn’t know this then they
may assign a lot of homework. If many of student’s teachers assign a lot of homework in one day a student can be
very stressed out. When a student is very stressed out they won’t be able to focus as much therefore not being
able to do all their work which only adds more stress to their life. This has happened to all of my friends and me
before. I have had a project due the next day and had a lot of homework from all my other classes due the same
day. I did not procrastinate on this project I just had a lot of stress from all my other classes making me feel like it
couldn’t be done. I ended up only finishing my project and not doing my other homework. This led to have a lower
grade in all my classes and a poor understanding of what we learned that day in school. Although if a student
starts their homework than they can get it done. But when a student comes home from school they have worked all
day and don’t feel like working on it anymore. They need something during the day to relax and possibly have fun,
but when so much homework is assigned then there is not time for fun or relaxation. Teachers may not realize how
much homework they are putting on a student and therefore giving them an excessive amount.
I hope you can read and acknowledge my views and opinions on this topic and take them into consideration.
Students need a limited amount of homework every night because it can easily get excessive and be stressful on a
student but even though it is tedious it is necessary. Thank you for your time and consideration.
Student paper E: rubric score of 3
Dear Board of Education,
I am writing to you today to give you a perspective on why students should not have home work. There are three
main reasons which I will be explaining in the following paragraphs.
The first reason students should not have homework is that students have many after school activities. Therefore
many of those activities finish later and student have not enogh time to eat, do their homework and have the right
amount of time to sleep. This may cause headaches and may cause students to faint. Teachers must think of the
health of students before anything.
The second reason is teachers have many things to do instead of grading all of their students homework. I once
had a friend who’s mom was a teacher at a high school and one day my friend got pregnant and her mom was to
busy until it came to the summer and she was finally able to tell her mom. This can also cause teacher to get sick
easier then normal people.
The third reason students should not have homework is because student should spend more time with their family
discusing wathever is on there mind. My brothers best friend was so determined to get straigt A’s and had so much
homework, she had been raped a few weeks after and had no time to tell her parent about it because she wanted
to a good report even if it destroyed her. Although many might say it helps you keep your mind in the game but
students especially in high school have to much to deal with and barly can fit homework in it.
In conclusion students should not have homework because it creates more stress, keeps teacher from there other
responsibilty, and keep students from conversation with their parent and family. Thank you for you time and I hope
take this letter into consideration.
Student Paper F: rubric score of 3
Dear SMMUSD Board of Education,
My name is _______________, I am a student that is attending, SAMOHI. I over heard that there was a policy for
homework. So here I am writing to you to tell you what I think, and how my school may react to this.
I think schools shouldn’t get homework everyday, I am that type of person that doesn’t like doing homework, but
still if there was no homework I don’t think kids would really understand what is going on. There are a least 30 kids
in a class and only 1 teacher, so if we didn’t have homework, kids would really understand the work and wouldn’t
be able to get that much help. I am not saying that there should be homework or shouldn’t be homework, I am just
saying how are learning wouldn’t really increase, in the small classrooms, and lots of kids in them.
If the school didn’t have to get homework everyday it would be different, because you might have a paper due for
one class and than have to study for a big text in another class. It is hard to do that all in one night, and try to do
good on them to. This would work better, and in the classes kids might even come after class to get help with there
homework, if there was no homework or something they have a better chance in not coming because they don’t
need help for anything. Or if there was less kids in the class, about 15-23 (in classroom) they wont need homework
because they can concentrate better if there was less kids in a class.
All I am saying is that the schools should have homework but not everyday, if we have homework then we will
learn more and actually have something to practice. It would be a lot easyer on us, and some people might actually
get good grades.
Well thank you for you time
Student paper G: rubric score of 3
Dear SMMUSD board of education.
My name is _______________ and I am a freshman at Santa Monica High School. I feel that the district policy on
homework should be that there should be that there should be no more homework. I feel that there should be no
more homework because students that have extra circular activeties do not have enough time to finish there
homework every night. I also think that there should be no more homework because students do not have enough
time at home to spend with there families. One more reason why there should be no more homework is that when
parents try to help there children on there homework they can confuse and make the student unsure about the
work he is doing.
Therefore one reason that I have that there should be no more homework is students with extra circular activeties
do not have enough time to finish there homework. I know from experience because I have extracircular activties
such as marching band and when I get home from band practive after school it is late and I am tierd and I do not
have enough time to finish my homework completly and correctly. So students that are doing more activties do not
have time to complete there homework so there are already failing classes because they are doing more extra
classes and I do not think that is fair.
Another reason that there should be no more homework is students do not have enough time to spend time with
there families. I know from experince that when I get home I want to relax and talk to my familiy about my day and
there day. But I cant I have to go do hours of homework after I was in school all day working hard and doing work. I
do not think that it is fair students do not have enough time to spend with there families.
Also one more reason I have that there should be no more homework is that when parnets try to help there kids on
there homework they end up confuesing them more and more and makeing them frustrated. I know when my Mom
or Dad tries to help me with my homework they don’t know what they are talking about and cofuese me and make
me unsure on how to do my work. That is why I feel homework and any kind of school should be left in school.
In conclusion I feel that there should be no more homework. Because students with extra circular activties do not
have enough time to complete it so they end up failing classes, also students do not have enough time to spend
with there families. One more reason is when parents try to help there kids on there homework they end up
confuesing them more and not the parents teaching wrong at home. There for there should be no more homework.