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High School Work Load

Original post made by Another Parent, Old Palo Alto, on Nov 30, 2006

Are there students out there who have the time to tell me (a non high school parent) what your weekly homework load looks like? Rather than debating should finals come before or after the holidays, perhaps we should all look at what the load is and how we can reduce it. So, for instance, how many minutes a day do you spend on your English reading, how often do you have English papers due, how long are they, etc. As much of this as you can tell me (and all of us) for each subject. What non academic things (say, home economics) are required. Do they add to the work load?

I'm also curious if you find it valuable. Do you feel like you are learning important things, do you enjoy learning, do you feel prepared for the college of your choice?


Comments (14)

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Posted by Alan
a resident of Greenmeadow
on Nov 30, 2006 at 9:27 pm

They must all be too busy doing homework to reply. :)

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Posted by Paly parent
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Dec 1, 2006 at 12:37 am

No, they're all on MySpace!

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Posted by Another Paly Parent
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Dec 1, 2006 at 10:22 am

No, its middle schoolers on MySpace. Highschoolers now use FaceBook.

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Posted by Preteen Alliance
a resident of another community
on Dec 1, 2006 at 2:20 pm

Denise Clark Pope, the student stress expert who co-founded Stanford School of Education's Stressed Out Students Conference, recently wrote a blog about student stress on locally based website
Web Link.
I invite you to read the blog and pose this question to her.

Since she worked closely with high school students to write her recent book, she might be able to give you a good idea of their workload - or answer other student stress-related questions.

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Posted by Gunn Parent
a resident of Gunn High School
on Dec 1, 2006 at 7:45 pm

My 9th grade daughter has had very little English homework (typically less than an hour per week). Same with social studies, which at Gunn is not laned. Advanced Biology has been 2 hours per week or so, and math, where she's also in the top track, has been at least 4.

She's in the "Advanced" English class, but has had only 2 or 3 papers so far this year. She does short "reaction to quote" papers more frequently, but little of significant length otherwise.

Each student gets two electives, and PE, in addition to the four core classes(and we're lucky lucky LUCKY that PAUSD can still afford a seven period day so kids CAN take those electives!). My daughter's electives are a language class and a music class. For the latter, she is to practice some 30 minutes per day (which she does only about half the days). For the former, she has about 1 hour of homework per week. And she occasionally has PE tests for which she studies minimally.

I hope those specific numbers help. My daughter is a more efficient and organzied worker than some (and no doubt less efficient and organized than some others) so other kids I think have bigger loads.

My daughter says that most of her homework is useful but some is busy work.

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Posted by student
a resident of Gunn High School
on Dec 1, 2006 at 10:16 pm

so she is in Bio 1A or 1AC? there is a significant difference if you're in Bio 1A rather than Bio 1AC...

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Posted by Student2
a resident of Gunn High School
on Dec 3, 2006 at 3:28 pm

Well, I'm a seinor at Gunn right now and I currently take 4 AP classes (still less than many other students). I have an AP Calculus test tomorrow on Monday followed by an AP Physics C test on Thursday. I have daily assignments for both calculus and physics, in addition to reading assignments for Mythology. AP Japanese has a fairly light workload and AP Economics never has hw (b/c the teacher never gives any out). I also take orchestra, but I only practice a few times a week. In addition I'm also a TA (teaching assistant) for another teacher.

I'm expecting the remaining weeks of school this year to be fairly stressful because AP Physics C and AP Economics have their finals before winter break. All my other finals will be in January.

Stress for me tends to build up in cycles. Tests for Calculus, Physics, and Economics usually bunch up in one week so I feel somewhat stressed in those weeks. Stress then builds up until gradually until another week with tests.

If the school administration wishes to reduce stress they should definitely remove the outrageous ski week. Introducing this week-long holiday caused much more stress in all AP classes at Gunn. The reason for this is because the school cirriculum loses one week of classes before the AP test in May. Last year when I was in AP Bio, the class was still taking unit tests two days before the AP exam. The day of the AP exam we actually turned in a take-home test and unit hw. So this year in order for AP teachers to meet the exam deadlines in May, they place finals before winter break.

This is my last year at Gunn and I personally believe that Junior was the most stressful. Although I am taking more AP classes this year, Junior year was full of SAT I&IIs and much harder classes. Analysis Honors has been completely redesigned this school year to what many seinors regard as a complete joke. Analysis was a very stressful and difficult class during my year. The entire class grading system had to be curved to accommodate the harshness (86% was an A-). I liked the class though because it moved fast and prepared me well for AP Calculus BC. It's a shame the class is no longer taught by Mr. Herreshoff. AP Biology was another fairly stressful class, but Ms. Moser prepared everyone so well for the AP exam. I think it was worth the struggle, 85% of the class got scores of 5 and the rest received 4's. According to Ms. Moser, a "C" test average in her class would be equivalent to a 5 on the AP, turns out she was right.

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Posted by Mike
a resident of Gunn High School
on Dec 3, 2006 at 8:50 pm

I am a junior at Gunn, who is not taking many advanced courses, but I still manage to have a full schedule regardless. I usually spend less than 2 hours on chem homework every week, but anywhere from 4-8 hours per week (sometimes even per night) on AP US History. Alg II/Pre-Calc H, I usually spend a few hours a week on, and a few hours with 4 AP language.

By the way, keeping finals after winter break is how I like it. Gives me additional QUALITY study time.


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Posted by student
a resident of Gunn High School
on Dec 3, 2006 at 10:16 pm

Yay! I love to spend my winter holidays studying and stressing for finals and doing college essays! Thinking of that essay prompt by the fireplace and Christmas tree! Carrying my Calculus textbook with me as I go Christmas caroling!

Giving finals before winter break is the best gift a teacher can give to students.

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Posted by Student
a resident of Gunn High School
on Dec 3, 2006 at 11:01 pm

As a matter of fact, that stress assembly was entrancing!
I average six hours of sleep, and I'm going to ask Santa for three hours and 27 minutes every single day! That way, I can get my 9:27 of sleep that every single high schooler needs!
Needless to say, my workload is so light! I'm a junior in all advanced lanes. Because my exams are generally bunched together, I tend do study for an average of six to ten hours on those exam-riddled weeks. I'm actually pretty lucky, I only pull an all nighter every few weeks or so.
Well, that assembly taught me that if I want to relieve my stress, I should throw away all my college prospects, and drop all my hard classes! I have a 4.5 GPA, straight A's, and almost all AP's. Thanks to that assembly, I plan on dropping all my APs, lower my GPA to less than a 3.5, and settle for straight B's.
That way, I can get almost 10 hours of sleep a day, and have lots of fun socializing! Of course, being the short-sighted person I am, I'll be completely oblivious to the failures in life later. I can go to some random Cal State, and get a degree in something!
Thank you Gunn Administration, for giving us the opportunity to hear from the best in this field. Of course, Gunn students must reduce stress, and the best way to do so is to not take hard classes, and go to superb schools, including all the CSU's, and the highly regarded UC Santa Cruz.
It's a good thing that I took notes on that lady's moving lecture. I pulled an all nighter reviewing it, and making sure that I knew every bit of what she said. I even made flashcards to review the different methods of reducing stress, so I can look them over every night before I sleep.

When asked for the average amount of homework a student has, it is important to disregard the student's courses. Obviously, a student taking five low-lane courses will have the same amount of homework as a brilliant star-student enrolled in 7 AP classes. In addition, it is a fatal mistake the look into the students' diligency. If Jon Doe is working for a fabulous score of THREE on the AP Statistics test, he may work much much harder than Bob Brown, who wants to maintain his straight-five AP record.

It is a good choice to ask this good question on a forum such as, visited only but students who never waste time. The students who would naturally respond to this post will be so diligent, that they barely have time to sleep. However, their loyalty to this forum, and their dedication to the community allow them to stay up until 5AM to write quality feedback to posts like this. These students are definitely a good representation of all the students at Henry M. Gunn High School.

Finally, it is very important to remember that high schoolers are not normal human beings. They are zombies, who work on command, sleep on command, and wake up on command. They have supernatural powers allowing them to work through the night on weekdays. Those same magical forces allow them to sleep in past noon every single weekend. The sad truth is, today's high schoolers are nothing compared to the high schoolers of the sixties and seventies. Competition in rich neighborhoods such as Palo Alto is so mild, that nobody cares if they passed the CAHSEE, or if they failed the last algebra one final. In fact, with only a few dozen applicants to Stanford, and another twenty dozen who apply to Ivies, it is paramount that our students gain more supernatural powers to compete with the ever zombie like high schoolers of the new generation.

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Posted by high school parent
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Dec 4, 2006 at 7:17 pm

please end this thread

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Posted by Paly Voice Journalist
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Jan 12, 2007 at 2:00 pm

At the Community Meeting on November 11 which was set up to discuss teen drinking, the topic of teen stress became the center issue. Check out this article published on the Paly Voice Web Link.

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Posted by A Student
a resident of Barron Park
on Aug 28, 2007 at 1:17 am

I used to spend 1-2hrs/night per AP class on average. I took 5 APs and 2 honors last year so I spent anywhere from 4-10 hours per night. This included preparing for tests and doing/projects. I think some classes such as APUSH involve too much work but students feel they need to take it just for an AP. They really need to lower the amount of homework too. Also, classrooms feel like jails. The teachers need to add some sense of humor to the environment. It shouldn't feel like you are being being ordered by police officers. I think this is part of what sets apart Gunn from many of the other top schools in the area. You are always under the gun.

Posted by Name hidden
a resident of Old Palo Alto

on Jun 6, 2017 at 10:24 am

Due to repeated violations of our Terms of Use, comments from this poster are automatically removed. Why?

Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

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