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School choice: what are your options?

by: The GreatSchools Editorial Team | Updated: September 20, 2023

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School choice

School choice options available to parents have increased dramatically in recent years. There’s a growing national sentiment that promoting competition in public education may spur schools to improve and that parents who invest energy in choosing a school will continue to be involved in their child’s education.

How much choice do you have? It depends. The amount of choice varies from one school district to another, and varies from state to state. In most instances, it depends on supply and demand, and schools that are well regarded are generally in high demand. So if you are hoping to transfer your child to a popular school outside your home district, or a popular charter or magnet school, you may find it difficult.

What Are Your Options?

Your Neighborhood School

Generally, your first option is your neighborhood school. Each public school district sets up its own rules and boundaries for each school in the district, so it is best to check with your local district to find out which school your child will be assigned to, and what the rules are for attending charter schools, magnet schools, or other schools within or outside your local district. Be aware that school districts sometimes change the neighborhood boundaries for schools to balance enrollment, so don’t assume that if you move in across the street from a school that your child will automatically go to that school. (Read more about public schools )

Charter Schools

One of the most significant changes in public education in recent years has been the growth of the charter school movement. Charter schools are public schools that are liberated from some of the traditional school regulations required by the state. These schools are bound by charter agreements granted by local school boards. If they don’t meet the requirements of their charter, they can be shut down. Charter school enrollment is voluntary and is not governed by neighborhood boundaries, which means your child can choose to attend any charter school within your district, or outside your district, so long as there is space available. Schools that are in high demand usually have a lottery to determine who will be eligible to attend. (Read more about charter schools )

School Transfers

School districts generally set their own policies for intradistrict transfers (from one school in the district to another) and interdistrict transfers (to a school outside the district). Preferences are often given to children whose child care provider is near a particular school, or whose parents work in the city where the school is located. Most school districts have an appeals process if your request is denied. Space limitations often make transfers difficult, and each district’s process has its own regulations, so be sure to check with your local district for specific requirements.

Magnet Schools

Magnet schools are another school choice offered by many school districts. Magnet schools generally have a particular focus, such as art or technology, or follow a different structural organization, such as mixing different grade levels within one classroom, or operating on a year-round schedule. Magnet schools are not governed by neighborhood boundaries; they draw students from throughout the school district and must accept students on a nondiscriminatory basis.

Alternative Schools

These are generally schools whose educational philosophies are different from traditional programs. Typically, alternative schools have small classes, a social and emotional development curriculum and a self-paced academic curriculum. This title is used officially as well as informally to describe a wide range of schools, so it’s important to ask specific schools why they are classified as “alternative.”

Private Schools

Private schools are schools that do not receive funding from the state. They set up their own criteria for admission. Families of the students pay tuition or, in some cases, students receive scholarships to attend. The teachers, principal, board of directors (and sometimes the parents and students) decide upon curriculum, teaching methodology and enrollment requirements. Private schools are not required to hire credentialed teachers or publish their test score results. (Read more about private schools .)


Another option is for parents to teach their children at home instead of sending them to a public or private school. Each state has different laws governing homeschooling. Many communities have organizations that assist homeschooling families with curriculum and opportunities to meet other homeschoolers. (Read more about homeschooling .)

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Welcome to the Irvine Unified School District!

Our teachers, administrators and support staff are committed to academic excellence and quality service for our families. As such, we hope to make the enrollment process as quick and convenient as possible.

Enrollment for the 2023-24 school year is open.

Enrollment for the 2024-25 school year will open on March 1st, 2024 at approximately noon. The information and links for parents/legal guardians to enroll students are located toward the bottom of this page.  Once Steps 1, 2 and 3  have been completed, a staff member from your assigned school will be in contact by email or phone.

If your student previously attended a school within IUSD and is returning or you have moved and need to update your address, you do not need to complete the Aeries Internet Registration. Please send the required enrollment documents directly to your school of residence.

For assistance with enrollment from the IUSD Parent Center CLICK HERE .

****NOTICE: Irvine Unified School District is not a Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) certified school district. Therefore, enrollment of a student with B, F-1, J-1, or M visa status in the District could negatively impact a student's visa status.

Information on application for admission to a SEVP certified school can be found at:

IUSD Virtual Academy (TK-12)  – Online learning.  For more information about IVA Middle and High school  click here  and for IVA Elementary  click here .

Step 1:  Collect the Enrollment documents

Step 1 is for parents/legal guardians to gather the required enrollment documents. Please visit the link below and collect the Enrollment Documents in a digital format by saving them as a PDF, scanning them or by taking clear and legible photos.  You will be asked to upload these documents during the online enrollment.  

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*If you are unable to print the Residency Affidavit  for signature or need further assistance, please contact your school directly.

Grade-Level Placement: It is recognized that students do their best work in school when they are placed in a grade with other students of the same chronological age. The following links provide IUSD guidelines for placing students at the appropriate grade level. Please contact your assigned residential school if you have any questions regarding grade-level placement.

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Based on the address of your residence in Irvine, you will be assigned a neighborhood school. Please note that Culverdale and Westpark share a "Super Attendance" area, meaning both are considered that area's neighborhood schools. If you live in this area and Westpark becomes full in a grade level, Culverdale will be considered your neighborhood school, and vice versa. Kindergarten/TK Programs : There are programs set up specifically for new incoming Kindergarten and Transitional Kindergarten students.

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Step 2: complete the Online Enrollment

2023-24 Enrollment is open  2024-25 Enrollment will open on March 1st at approximately noon

Step 2 must be completed by parents/legal guardians for students new to the district. IUSD has set up an online data entry process that will help you get started with the enrollment process. You must have a valid address within the Irvine Unified School District attendance area to use this system. Verification of residence and immunizations will be required before enrollment is finalized.

Please note: If a student previously attended a school within IUSD and is returning or you have moved and need to update your address, you do not need to complete the Aeries Internet Registration. Please send the required enrollment documents directly to your assigned school during the school year.  The email address for the school is listed under the ADDITIONAL INFORMATION tab below. To enroll click below:  Aeries Internet Registration  

Step 3: Finalizing the enrollment 

Now it's our turn!  For Step 3, a representative from your assigned school will verify the information provided and will contact the parents/legal guardians by phone or email to confirm that the enrollment has been finalized typically within 24-48 hours.  If you have any questions, you can contact your assigned school.

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Parents/legal guardians considering an Independent Study option have the right to request a student-parent-educator conference meeting before enrollment to review the academic program delivery, student support, enrollment process, specific academic expectations as well as the withdrawal process. If your student has an IEP, please contact your student’s case carrier to schedule an IEP to determine if independent study is appropriate to support your student’s unique needs. 

Along with many of our program support opportunities, Independent Study will offer:

  • For students in kindergarten and grades 1 to 3, inclusive, a plan to provide opportunities for daily synchronous instruction for all pupils throughout the school year.
  • For students in grades 4 to 8, inclusive, a plan to provide opportunities for both daily live interaction and at least weekly synchronous instruction for all pupils throughout the school year.
  • For students in grades 9 to 12, inclusive, a plan to provide opportunities for at least weekly synchronous instruction for all pupils throughout the school year.
  • A plan to transition students whose families wish to return to in-person instruction from independent study expeditiously, and, in no case, later than five instructional days.

“Synchronous instruction” means classroom-style instruction or designated small group or one-on-one instruction delivered in person, or in the form of internet or telephonic communications, and involving live two-way communication between the teacher and student. Synchronous instruction shall be provided by the teacher of record.

Before/After School Care options can be found by visiting the City Of Irvine's website.

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If you have any questions about IUSD's enrollment process, please feel free to contact our office.

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Adolescent girl doing homework.

What’s the Right Amount of Homework?

Decades of research show that homework has some benefits, especially for students in middle and high school—but there are risks to assigning too much.

Many teachers and parents believe that homework helps students build study skills and review concepts learned in class. Others see homework as disruptive and unnecessary, leading to burnout and turning kids off to school. Decades of research show that the issue is more nuanced and complex than most people think: Homework is beneficial, but only to a degree. Students in high school gain the most, while younger kids benefit much less.

The National PTA and the National Education Association support the “ 10-minute homework guideline ”—a nightly 10 minutes of homework per grade level. But many teachers and parents are quick to point out that what matters is the quality of the homework assigned and how well it meets students’ needs, not the amount of time spent on it.

The guideline doesn’t account for students who may need to spend more—or less—time on assignments. In class, teachers can make adjustments to support struggling students, but at home, an assignment that takes one student 30 minutes to complete may take another twice as much time—often for reasons beyond their control. And homework can widen the achievement gap, putting students from low-income households and students with learning disabilities at a disadvantage.

However, the 10-minute guideline is useful in setting a limit: When kids spend too much time on homework, there are real consequences to consider.

Small Benefits for Elementary Students

As young children begin school, the focus should be on cultivating a love of learning, and assigning too much homework can undermine that goal. And young students often don’t have the study skills to benefit fully from homework, so it may be a poor use of time (Cooper, 1989 ; Cooper et al., 2006 ; Marzano & Pickering, 2007 ). A more effective activity may be nightly reading, especially if parents are involved. The benefits of reading are clear: If students aren’t proficient readers by the end of third grade, they’re less likely to succeed academically and graduate from high school (Fiester, 2013 ).

For second-grade teacher Jacqueline Fiorentino, the minor benefits of homework did not outweigh the potential drawback of turning young children against school at an early age, so she experimented with dropping mandatory homework. “Something surprising happened: They started doing more work at home,” Fiorentino writes . “This inspiring group of 8-year-olds used their newfound free time to explore subjects and topics of interest to them.” She encouraged her students to read at home and offered optional homework to extend classroom lessons and help them review material.

Moderate Benefits for Middle School Students

As students mature and develop the study skills necessary to delve deeply into a topic—and to retain what they learn—they also benefit more from homework. Nightly assignments can help prepare them for scholarly work, and research shows that homework can have moderate benefits for middle school students (Cooper et al., 2006 ). Recent research also shows that online math homework, which can be designed to adapt to students’ levels of understanding, can significantly boost test scores (Roschelle et al., 2016 ).

There are risks to assigning too much, however: A 2015 study found that when middle school students were assigned more than 90 to 100 minutes of daily homework, their math and science test scores began to decline (Fernández-Alonso, Suárez-Álvarez, & Muñiz, 2015 ). Crossing that upper limit can drain student motivation and focus. The researchers recommend that “homework should present a certain level of challenge or difficulty, without being so challenging that it discourages effort.” Teachers should avoid low-effort, repetitive assignments, and assign homework “with the aim of instilling work habits and promoting autonomous, self-directed learning.”

In other words, it’s the quality of homework that matters, not the quantity. Brian Sztabnik, a veteran middle and high school English teacher, suggests that teachers take a step back and ask themselves these five questions :

  • How long will it take to complete?
  • Have all learners been considered?
  • Will an assignment encourage future success?
  • Will an assignment place material in a context the classroom cannot?
  • Does an assignment offer support when a teacher is not there?

More Benefits for High School Students, but Risks as Well

By the time they reach high school, students should be well on their way to becoming independent learners, so homework does provide a boost to learning at this age, as long as it isn’t overwhelming (Cooper et al., 2006 ; Marzano & Pickering, 2007 ). When students spend too much time on homework—more than two hours each night—it takes up valuable time to rest and spend time with family and friends. A 2013 study found that high school students can experience serious mental and physical health problems, from higher stress levels to sleep deprivation, when assigned too much homework (Galloway, Conner, & Pope, 2013 ).

Homework in high school should always relate to the lesson and be doable without any assistance, and feedback should be clear and explicit.

Teachers should also keep in mind that not all students have equal opportunities to finish their homework at home, so incomplete homework may not be a true reflection of their learning—it may be more a result of issues they face outside of school. They may be hindered by issues such as lack of a quiet space at home, resources such as a computer or broadband connectivity, or parental support (OECD, 2014 ). In such cases, giving low homework scores may be unfair.

Since the quantities of time discussed here are totals, teachers in middle and high school should be aware of how much homework other teachers are assigning. It may seem reasonable to assign 30 minutes of daily homework, but across six subjects, that’s three hours—far above a reasonable amount even for a high school senior. Psychologist Maurice Elias sees this as a common mistake: Individual teachers create homework policies that in aggregate can overwhelm students. He suggests that teachers work together to develop a school-wide homework policy and make it a key topic of back-to-school night and the first parent-teacher conferences of the school year.

Parents Play a Key Role

Homework can be a powerful tool to help parents become more involved in their child’s learning (Walker et al., 2004 ). It can provide insights into a child’s strengths and interests, and can also encourage conversations about a child’s life at school. If a parent has positive attitudes toward homework, their children are more likely to share those same values, promoting academic success.

But it’s also possible for parents to be overbearing, putting too much emphasis on test scores or grades, which can be disruptive for children (Madjar, Shklar, & Moshe, 2015 ). Parents should avoid being overly intrusive or controlling—students report feeling less motivated to learn when they don’t have enough space and autonomy to do their homework (Orkin, May, & Wolf, 2017 ; Patall, Cooper, & Robinson, 2008 ; Silinskas & Kikas, 2017 ). So while homework can encourage parents to be more involved with their kids, it’s important to not make it a source of conflict.

The Most Commonly Read Books in High School

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No matter what type of high school you attend—be it public, private, magnet, charter, religious schools, or even online—reading is going be at the core of your English studies. In today's classrooms, students have a wide range of books to choose from, both modern and classics.

If you compare the readings lists in all schools, you might be surprised to learn that the most commonly read books in all high schools are all very similar. That's right! Course work for private schools and public schools (and every other school) are all very similar. No matter where you go to school, you'll likely study classic authors like Shakespeare and Twain, but some more modern books are appearing on these lists, including The Color Purple and  The Giver.  

Commonly Read High School Books

Here are some of the books that most often appear on high school reading lists:

  • Shakespeare's Macbeth is on most schools' lists. This play was mostly written when Scottish James I ascended the throne of England, much to many Englishmen's chagrin, and it tells the tale of Macbeth's fearful regicide and his ensuing guilt. Even students who do not relish Shakespearean English appreciate this lively tale, filled with murder, scary nights in a remote Scottish castle, battles, and a riddle that isn't solved until the end of the play.
  • Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet is also on the list. Familiar to most students because of modern updates, this tale features star-crossed lovers and adolescent impulses that appeal to most high school readers.
  • Shakespeare's Hamlet, a story of an angst-ridden prince whose father has been murdered by his uncle, also tops independent schools' lists. The soliloquies in this play, including "to be or not to be," and "what a rogue and peasant slave am I," are known to many high school students.
  • Julius Caesar, another Shakespeare play, is featured on many schools' lists. It is one of Shakespeare's history plays and is about the assassination of the Roman dictator Julius Caesar in 44 B.C.
  • Mark Twain's Huckleberry Finn has been controversial since its release in the United States in 1885. While some critics and school districts have condemned or banned the book because of its perceived vulgar language and apparent racism, it often appears on high school reading lists as a skillful dissection of American racism and regionalism.
  • The Scarlet Letter, written by Nathaniel Hawthorne in 1850, is a tale of adultery and guilt set during Puritan rule of Boston. While many high school students have a difficult time wading through the sometimes dense prose, the surprise conclusion of the novel and its examination of hypocrisy often make it ultimately appealing to this audience.
  • Many high school students enjoy F. Scott Fitzgerald's 1925 The Great Gatsby , a riveting and beautifully written tale of lust, love, greed, and class anxiety in the Roaring Twenties. There are parallels to modern America, and the characters are compelling. Many students read this book in English class while they are studying American history, and the novel provides insight into the moral values of the 1920s.
  • Harper Lee's 1960 classic To Kill A Mockingbird, later made into a wonderful movie starring Gregory Peck, is, simply put, one of the best American books ever written. Its tale of injustice written through the eyes of an innocent narrator grabs most readers; it is often read in 7th, 8th, or 9th grade and sometimes later in high school. It tends to be a book students remember for a long time, if not for the rest of their lives.
  • Homer's The Odyssey, in any one of its modern translations, proves difficult going for many students, with its poetry and mythological narrative. However, many students grow to enjoy the adventure-filled tribulations of Odysseus and the insight the tale provides into the culture of ancient Greece.
  • William Golding's 1954 novel The Lord of the Flies is often banned because of its essential message that evil lurks in the hearts of man–or in this case, the hearts of boys who are marooned on a deserted island and turn to violence. English teachers enjoy mining the book for its symbolism and its statements about human nature when it is unchained to society.
  • John Steinbeck's 1937 novel Of Mice and Men is a sparsely written tale of two men's friendship set during the Great Depression. Many students appreciate its simple, though sophisticated language, and its messages about friendship and the value of the poor.
  • The "youngest" book on this list,  The Giver  by Lois Lowry was published in 1993 and was the 1994 Newbery Medal winner. It tells the story of a 12-year-old boy who lives in a seemingly ideal world but learns about the darkness within his community after receiving his life assignment as the Receiver. 
  • Another more recent book, compared to many of the others on this list, is  The Color Purple. Written by Alice Walker and first published in 1982, this novel tells the story of Celie, a young Black girl born into a life of poverty and segregation. She endures incredible challenges in life, including rape and separation from her family, but eventually meets a woman who helps Celie change her life.
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Two books – one with a sketch of William Shakespeare – sit open in front of an array of books that stand alongside one another.

These high school ‘classics’ have been taught for generations – could they be on their way out?

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Professor and Chair, Stony Brook University (The State University of New York)

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Andrew Newman has received funding from John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation.

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If you went to high school in the United States anytime since the 1960s, you were likely assigned some of the following books: Shakespeare’s “Romeo and Juliet,” “Julius Caesar” and “Macbeth”; John Steinbeck’s “Of Mice and Men”; F. Scott Fitzgerald’s “The Great Gatsby”; Harper Lee’s “To Kill a Mockingbird”; and William Golding’s “The Lord of the Flies.”

For many former students, these books and other so-called “classics” represent high school English. But despite the efforts of reformers, both past and present , the most frequently assigned titles have never represented America’s diverse student body.

Why did these books become classics in the U.S.? How have they withstood challenges to their status? And will they continue to dominate high school reading lists? Or will they be replaced by a different set of books that will become classics for students in the 21st century?

The high school canon

The set of books that is taught again and again, broadly across the country, is referred to by literature scholars and English teachers as “the canon.”

The high school canon has been shaped by many factors. Shakespeare’s plays, especially “Macbeth” and “Julius Caesar,” have been taught consistently since the beginning of the 20th century , when the curriculum was determined by college entrance requirements. Others, like “To Kill a Mockingbird,” winner of the 1961 Pulitzer Prize for fiction, were ushered into the classroom by current events – in the case of Lee’s book, the civil rights movement . Some books just seem especially suited for classroom teaching: “Of Mice and Men” has a straightforward plot, easily identifiable themes and is under 100 pages long.

Titles become “traditional” when they are passed down through generations. As the education historian Jonna Perrillo observes, parents tend to approve of having their children study the same books that they once did.

The last period of significant change to the canon was during the 1960s and 1970s, when the largest generation of the 20th century, the baby boomers, went to high school. For instance, in 1963, a survey of 800 students at Evanston Township High School in Illinois revealed that “To Kill a Mockingbird,” first published in 1960, was by far the “most enjoyed book,” followed by two books that had been published in the 1950s, J.D. Salinger’s “The Catcher in the Rye” and Golding’s “The Lord of the Flies.” None of these books were yet traditional, yet they became so for the next generation.

A comparison of national surveys conducted in 1963 and 1988 shows how several books that were introduced to the classroom when the boomers were students had become classics when boomers were teachers.

During the 1960s and 1970s, teachers even reframed “Romeo and Juliet” as a contemporary work. Lesson plans from the era referred to its adaptations into “ West Side Story ” – a musical that initially came out in 1957 – and Franco Zefferelli’s risqué 1968 film version of Shakespeare’s story of star-crossed lovers. It became the perfect hook for ninth graders in a study of Shakespeare that would conclude in 12th grade with “Macbeth.”

Efforts to diversify

English education professor Arthur Applebee observed in 1989 that, since the 1960s, “leaders in the profession of English teaching have tried to broaden the curriculum to include more selections by women and minority authors.” But in the late 1980s, according to his findings, the high school “top ten” still included only one book by a woman – Lee’s “To Kill a Mockingbird” – and none by minority authors.

At that time, a raging debate was underway about whether America was a “melting pot” in which many cultures became one, or a colorful “mosaic” in which many cultures coexisted. Proponents of the latter view argued for a multicultural canon, but they were ultimately unable to establish one. A 2011 survey of Southern schools by Joyce Stallworth and Louel C. Gibbons, published in “English Leadership Quarterly,” found that the five most frequently taught books were all traditional selections: “The Great Gatsby,” “Romeo and Juliet,” Homer’s “The Odyssey,” Arthur Miller’s “The Crucible” and “To Kill a Mockingbird.”

One explanation for this persistence is that the canon is not simply a list: It takes form as stacks of copies on shelves in the storage area known as the “book room.” Changes to the inventory require time, money and effort. Depending on the district, replacing a classic might require approval by the school board . And it would create more work for teachers who are already maxed out.

“Too many teachers, probably myself included, teach from the traditional canon,” a teacher told Stallworth and Gibbons. “We are overworked and underpaid and struggle to find the time to develop quality lessons for new books.”

The end of an era?

Esau McCauley, the author of “Reading While Black,” describes the list of classics by white authors as the “ pre-integration canon .” At least two factors suggest that its dominance over the curriculum is coming to an end.

First, the battles over which books should be taught have become more intense than ever. On the one hand, progressives like the teachers of the growing #DisruptTexts movement call for the inclusion of books by Black, Native American and other authors of color - and they question the status of the classics. On the other hand, conservatives have challenged or successfully banned the teaching of many new books that deal with gender and sexuality or race.

Toni Morrison wears her hair in gray locks under a cream-colored hat.

PEN America, a nonprofit organization that fights for free expression for writers, reports “ a profound increase ” in book bans. The outcome might be a literature curriculum that more resembles the political divisions in this country. Much more than in the past, students in conservative and progressive districts might read very different books.

Second, English Language Arts education itself is changing. State standards, such as those adopted by New York in 2017 , no longer make the teaching of literature the primary focus of English class. Instead, there is a new emphasis on “ information literacy .” And while preceding generations of teachers voiced concerns about the distractions of radio and then television , books may have an even smaller share of students’ attention in the age of cellphones, the internet, social media and online gaming .

“We no longer live in a print-dominant, text-only world,” the National Council of Teachers of English proclaims in a 2022 position statement . The group calls for English teachers to put less emphasis on books in order to train students to use and analyze a variety of media. Accordingly, students across the country may not only have fewer books in common, but they also may be reading fewer books altogether.

Why teach literature?

Over generations, English teachers have voiced many reasons to teach books, and the canon in particular: to instill a common culture , foster citizenship , build empathy and cultivate lifelong readers . These goals have little to do with the skills emphasized by contemporary academic standards. But if literature is going to continue to be an important part of American education, it is important to talk not only about what books to teach, but the reasons why.

This story has been updated to correct the year that “West Side Story” appeared as a musical.

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Media For Kids And Teens

What kids are reading, in school and out.

Lynn Neary at NPR headquarters in Washington, D.C., May 21, 2019. (photo by Allison Shelley)

Walk into any bookstore or library, and you'll find shelves and shelves of hugely popular novels and book series for kids. But research shows that as young readers get older, they are not moving to more complex books. High-schoolers are reading books written for younger kids, and teachers aren't assigning difficult classics as much as they once did.

At Woodrow Wilson High School in Washington, D.C., the 11th-grade honors English students are reading The Kite Runner . And students like Megan Bell are reading some heavy-duty books in their spare time. "I like a lot of like old-fashioned historical dramas," Bell says. "Like I just read Anna Karenina ... I plowed through it, and it was a really good book."

But most teens are not forging their way through Russian literature, says Walter Dean Myers, who is currently serving as National Ambassador for Young People's Literature. A popular author of young-adult novels that are often set in the inner city, Myers wants his readers to see themselves in his books. But sometimes, he's surprised by his own fan mail.

"I'm glad they wrote," he says, "but it is not very heartening to see what they are reading as juniors and seniors." Asked what exactly is discouraging, Myers says that these juniors and seniors are reading books that he wrote with fifth- and sixth-graders in mind.

And a lot of the kids who like to read in their spare time are more likely to be reading the latest vampire novel than the classics, says Anita Silvey, author of 500 Great Books for Teens . Silvey teaches graduate students in a children's literature program, and at the beginning of the class, she asked her students — who grew up in the age of Harry Potter — about the books they like.

"Every single person in the class said, 'I don't like realism, I don't like historical fiction. What I like is fantasy, science fiction, horror and fairy tales.' "

Those anecdotal observations are reflected in a study of kids' reading habits by Renaissance Learning. For the fifth year in a row, the educational company used its Accelerated Reader program to track what kids are reading in grades one through 12.

"Last year, we had more than 8.6 million students from across the country who read a total of 283 million books," says Eric Stickney, the educational research director for Renaissance Learning. Students participate in the Accelerated Reader program through their schools. When they read a book, they take a brief comprehension quiz, and the book is then recorded in the system. The books are assigned a grade level based on vocabulary and sentence complexity.

And Stickney says that after the late part of middle school, students generally don't continue to increase the difficulty levels of the books they read.

Last year, almost all of the top 40 books read in grades nine through 12 were well below grade level. The most popular books, the three books in The Hunger Games series, were assessed to be at the fifth-grade level.

Last year, for the first time, Renaissance did a separate study to find out what books were being assigned to high school students. "The complexity of texts students are being assigned to read," Stickney says, "has declined by about three grade levels over the past 100 years. A century ago, students were being assigned books with the complexity of around the ninth- or 10th-grade level. But in 2012, the average was around the sixth-grade level."

Most of the assigned books are novels, like To Kill a Mockingbird , Of Mice and Men or Animal Farm . Students even read recent works like The Help and The Notebook . But in 1989, high school students were being assigned works by Sophocles, Shakespeare, Dickens, George Bernard Shaw, Emily Bronte and Edith Wharton.

Now, with the exception of Shakespeare, most classics have dropped off the list.

Back at Woodrow Wilson High School, at a 10th-grade English class — regular, not honors — students say they don't read much outside of school. But Tyler Jefferson and Adriel Miller are eager to talk. Adriel likes books about sports; Tyler likes history. Both say their teachers have assigned books they would not have chosen on their own. "I read The Odyssey , Tyler says. "I read Romeo and Juliet . I didn't read Hamlet . Asked what he thought of the books, Tyler acknowledges some challenges. "It was very different, because how the language was back then, the dialogue that they had.

Adriel agrees that books like that are tougher to read. "That's why we have great teachers that actually make us understand," he says. "It's a harder challenge of our brain, you know; it's a challenge."

But a challenge with its rewards, as Tyler says. "It gives us a new view on things."

Sandra Stotsky would be heartened to hear that. Professor emerita of education at the University of Arkansas, Stotsky firmly believes that high school students should be reading challenging fiction to get ready for the reading they'll do in college. "You wouldn't find words like 'malevolent,' 'malicious' or 'incorrigible' in science or history materials," she says, stressing the importance of literature. Stotsky says in the '60s and '70s, schools began introducing more accessible books in order to motivate kids to read. That trend has continued, and the result is that kids get stuck at a low level of reading.

"Kids were never pulled out of that particular mode in order to realize that in order to read more difficult works, you really have to work at it a little bit more," she says. "You've got to broaden your vocabulary. You may have to use a dictionary occasionally. You've got to do a lot more reading altogether."

"There's something wonderful about the language, the thinking, the intelligence of the classics," says Anita Silvey. She acknowledges that schools and parents may need to work a little harder to get kids to read the classics these days, but that doesn't mean kids shouldn't continue to read the popular contemporary novels they love. Both have value: "There's an emotional, psychological attraction to books for readers. And I think some of, particularly, these dark, dystopic novels that predict a future where in fact the teenager is going to have to find the answers, I think these are very compelling reads for these young people right now."

Reading leads to reading, says Silvey. It's when kids stop reading, or never get started in the first place, that there's no chance of ever getting them hooked on more complex books.

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High Schools Assign 3.5 Hours of Homework a Night, Survey Estimates

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Amidst the current backlash against homework, it would be helpful to get some real data on how much homework we’re actually talking about.

The college of education at the for-profit University of Phoenix recently took a stab at it, asking Harris Poll to survey teachers about the hours of homework they require and why they assign it. The pollsters talked to 1,005 teachers in public, private, and parochial schools across the United States, a group designed to be a representative sample of the nation’s 3.7 million teachers.

High school teachers interviewed said they assign an average of 3.5 hours worth of homework a week. For students who study five days a week, that’s 42 minutes a day per class, or 3.5 hours a day for a typical student taking five classes.

Middle school teachers (grades 6-8) assigned roughly the same amount: 3.2 hours of homework a week, or 38.4 minutes a day per class. That adds up to 3.2 hours of homework a night for a student with five classes. K-5 teachers said they assigned an average of 2.9 hours of homework each week.

The data reflect what anecdotally shocks many parents: homework loads jump in middle school.

Teachers’ top three reasons for assigning homework were to see how well students understand lessons, help students develop essential problem-solving skills, and show parents what’s being learned in school. Just 30 percent of teachers chose covering more content as one of their top reasons for assigning homework.

The survey also finds that the longer a teacher has been in the classroom, the less homework they assign, said Tanya Burden, a spokeswoman for the University of Phoenix.

Here’s a breakdown of weekly homework assigned, by years of experience:

• 3.6 hours (teachers with less than 10 years in the classroom)

• 3.1 hours (teachers with 10 to 19 years in the classroom)

• 2.8 hours (teachers with more than 20 years in the classroom)

Homework has come under fire from parents and administrators who worry that hours of after-school assignments are stressing students out . Education Week recently reported on research indicating that students with heavy loads of homework were significantly more likely to be sleep-deprived, particularly if the homework load had jumped between ages 12 and 15. Others question whether required assignments are necessary for learning .

But doth Americans protest too much? The Atlantic recently ran a group of photos showing children doing homework after natural disasters and war had displaced them. It’s a good reminder that in many places, homework is considered a privilege, not a burden.

CORRECTION (Feb. 28): The original version of this blog post included incorrect figures on the time for homework assigned each day per class for both high school teachers and middle school teachers.

A version of this news article first appeared in the Time and Learning blog.

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Classic books, including 'To Kill a Mockingbird' by Harper Lee and 'Jane Eyre' by Charlotte Brontë, on a shelf.

50 classics from (almost) everyone's high school reading list

Research shows that reading fiction encourages empathy . While more high school curriculums should include modern, diverse writers like Amy Tan and Malala Yousafzai, certain classics—like John Steinbeck's "The Grapes of Wrath" and Sandra Cisneros' "The House on Mango Street"—endure. Some even make a comeback. George Orwell's "1984," a novel published in 1949 about a dystopian future where the government controls the truth, even surged to #6 on the bestseller list in January 2021, selling more than 24,000 copies following the insurrection in Washington D.C.

While books are ostensibly for anyone with a yearning to learn, sometimes parents, teachers, and school board officials disagree on what kids should or shouldn't read. The result of the push and pull between these groups then shapes the reading lists of millions across the country. According to Pen America , 1,648 different books were banned in schools across the United States between July 2021 and June 2022. These bans affected 138 school districts in 32 states, impacting the books an estimated 4 million students were allowed to read. The top three most frequently banned books were Maia Kobabe's "Gender Queer: A Memoir," George M. Johnson's "All Boys Aren't Blue," and Ashley Hope Pérez's "Out of Darkness."

Certain books deserve a first, second, or maybe even a third read. Using data from Goodreads released in January 2023, Stacker compiled a list of 50 timeless books, plays, and epic poems commonly found on high school reading lists. A total of 1,194 voters picked the most essential reading required for students. The final ranking is based on Goodreads' score, which considers multiple factors, including total votes each book received and how highly voters ranked each book.

Read on to see which classics made the list.

#50. Their Eyes Were Watching God

- Author: Zora Neale Hurston - Score: 4,143 - Average rating: 3.97 (based on 316,337 ratings)

A coming-of-age story set in early 1900s Florida, "Their Eyes Were Watching God" tackles a multitude of issues: racism, sexism, segregation, poverty, and gender roles, among others. Initially overlooked upon its release, Zora Neale Hurston's best-known work is now considered a modern American masterpiece thanks to work done in Black studies programs in the 1970s.

#49. Mythology

- Author: Edith Hamilton - Score: 4,148 - Average rating: 4.02 (based on 52,213 ratings)

Edith Hamilton's " Mythology " has been a standard of both reference and pleasure reading since its publication in 1942. The book was commissioned by an editor at the publisher Little, Brown and Company in 1939 to replace the outdated 1855 collection on the subject, " Bulfinch's Mythology ," and it remains a popular choice for educating students on the subject today. At nearly 500 pages, this hefty tome covers all the classic Greek, Roman, and Norse myths in one place, from the journeys of Odysseus and the Trojan War to Cupid and Psyche.

#48. I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings (Maya Angelou's Autobiography, #1)

- Author: Maya Angelou - Score: 4,153 - Average rating: 4.28 (based on 492,982 ratings)

In the first of her seven memoirs, " I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings ," Maya Angelou speaks of her early life growing up in the South, including the abuse and racism she faced. Before this, Angelou was known as a poet but was encouraged to try her hand at long-form writing following a party she attended with the legendary James Baldwin. This book sold 1 million copies, was nominated for a National Book Award, and spent more than two years on the New York Times bestseller list.

#47. Oedipus Rex (The Theban Plays, #1)

- Author: Sophocles - Score: 4,211 - Average rating: 3.72 (based on 200,721 ratings)

The tragic Greek play " Oedipus Rex " tells the shocking tale of King Oedipus, who unknowingly kills his father and marries his mother. The work of Sophocles has inspired many others across disciplines, including Igor Stravinsky's 1920s opera of the same name. Sigmund Freud's psychoanalytic concept of the Oedipus complex , a theory that children are sexually attracted to their opposite-sex parent, also derived from this work.

#46. Moby-Dick or, the Whale

- Author: Herman Melville - Score: 4,240 - Average rating: 3.53 (based on 528,908 ratings)

Herman Melville's "Moby-Dick or, the Whale"—the lengthy tale of a sea captain on the hunt for this great beast—was inspired by a real-life sperm whale attack that sank the Essex in 1820. Although the book sold less than 3,000 copies during Melville's lifetime, it is now considered an American classic. In September 2022, one collector paid a whopping $327,600 to obtain an 1853 edition of the novel.

#45. The Pearl

- Author: John Steinbeck - Score: 4,421 - Average rating: 3.51 (based on 218,730 ratings)

John Steinbeck's "The Pearl" tells the story of Kino, a poor diver trying to support his family by gathering pearls from gulf beds. He is only barely scraping by until he happens upon a giant pearl. Kino thinks this discovery will finally provide him with the financial comfort and security he has been seeking, but it ultimately brings disaster. The story addresses the reader's relationship to nature, the human need for connection, and the consequences of resisting injustice.

#44. The Importance of Being Earnest

- Author: Oscar Wilde - Score: 4,540 - Average rating: 4.18 (based on 345,903 ratings)

This comedic play by Oscar Wilde takes a satiric look at Victorian social values while following two men—Jack Worthing and Algernon Moncrieff—as they tell lies to bring some excitement to their lives. "The Importance of Being Earnest" was Wilde's final play , and some consider it his masterpiece .

#43. The Red Badge of Courage

- Author: Stephen Crane - Score: 4,752 - Average rating: 3.28 (based on 99,854 ratings)

In "The Red Badge of Courage," Henry Fleming enlists in the Union Army, enticed by visions of glory. When the reality of war and battle sets in, Fleming retreats in fear. In the end, he faces his cowardice and rises to leadership. This American war novel was published in 1895 and is so authentic that it's easy to believe the author—born after the Civil War ended—was himself a veteran.

#42. The Taming of the Shrew

- Author: William Shakespeare - Score: 4,822 - Average rating: 3.77 (based on 164,742 ratings)

This five-act comedy tells the story of the courtship of the headstrong Katherine and the money-grubbing Petruchio, who is determined to subdue Katherine and make her his wife. After the wedding, Petruchio drags his new wife through the mud to their new home in the country. He proceeds to starve and deprive her of sleep to make his new bride submissive. The play, one of Shakespeare's most popular, has been both criticized for its abusive and misogynistic attitude toward women and praised as a challenging view of how women are supposed to behave.

#41. Slaughterhouse-Five

- Author: Kurt Vonnegut Jr. - Score: 4,858 - Average rating: 4.09 (based on 1,284,145 ratings)

In "Slaughterhouse-Five," Kurt Vonnegut tells the story of Billy Pilgrim—based on a real American soldier—who is "unstuck in time." He travels throughout the timeline of his life in a nonlinear fashion, forced to relive certain moments. He is first pulled out after he is drafted and captured in Germany during World War II. The book, which explores how humankind repeats history, has been banned or challenged in classrooms throughout the United States. It even landed in the Supreme Court in 1982 in Board of Education v. Pico , and the court held that banning the book violated the First Amendment.

#40. The Adventures of Tom Sawyer

- Author: Mark Twain - Score: 5,170 - Average rating: 3.92 (based on 879,567 ratings)

"The Adventures of Tom Sawyer" takes place in the fictional town of St. Petersburg, Missouri, during the 1840s. Tom Sawyer and his friend Huck Finn witness a murder by Joe. After the boys stay silent, the wrong man is accused of the crime. When they flee, the whole town presumes them dead, and the boys end up attending their own funerals. Mark Twain's portrayal of Sawyer and Finn challenges the idyllic American view of childhood, instead showing children as fallible human beings with imperfections like anyone else.

#39. Crime and Punishment

- Author: Fyodor Dostoevsky - Score: 5,537 - Average rating: 4.25 (based on 798,073 ratings)

This Russian classic, published in 1886, tells the story of a former student named Rodion Raskolnikov, who is now impoverished and on the verge of mental instability. To get money—and to demonstrate his exceptionalness—he comes up with a murderous plan to kill a pawnbroker. Considered one of the first psychological novels , "Crime and Punishment" is also quite political as it explores the character's pull toward liberal views and his rebellion against them.

#38. A Separate Peace

- Author: John Knowles - Score: 5,561 - Average rating: 3.59 (based on 209,325 ratings)

In "A Separate Peace," John Knowles explores the friendship of two young men—the quiet, intellectual Gene Forrester and his extroverted, athletic friend Finny. Gene lives vicariously through Finny, but his jealousy ultimately ends in tragedy after he commits a subtle act of violence . The book examines themes of envy and the need to achieve.

#37. Death of a Salesman

- Author: Arthur Miller - Score: 6,178 - Average rating: 3.56 (based on 217,183 ratings)

Arthur Miller introduces readers to an aging Willy Loman , a traveling salesman nearing the end of his career. Loman decides he's tired of driving for work and asks for an office job in New York City, believing he is vital to the company. His boss ends up firing him. Loman is also faced with the fact that his son, Biff, is not as successful in life as he had hoped.

Ultimately, Loman takes his own life so his son can have the insurance money to jump-start a better life. After his death, only Loman's family attends his funeral. "Death of a Salesman" won the 1949 Pulitzer Prize for drama.

#36. The Little Prince

- Author: Antoine de Saint-Exupéry - Score: 6,838 - Average rating: 4.32 (based on 1,871,036 ratings)

In "The Little Prince," a pilot whose plane has crashed in the Sahara desert meets a young boy from outer space. The boy is traveling from planet to planet in search of friendship. On the boy's home—an asteroid—he lived alone, accompanied only by a solitary rose. Once on Earth, the boy meets a wise fox who tells him he can only see clearly with his heart . The book's somber themes of imagination and adulthood have resonated with children and adults alike since it was published—it is now one of the most translated books of all time.

#35. The Old Man and the Sea

- Author: Ernest Hemingway - Score: 6,848 - Average rating: 3.80 (based on 1,036,482 ratings)

"The Old Man and the Sea" was Ernest Hemingway's final major work. The story follows an old man who catches a large fish, only to have it eaten by sharks before he can get it back to shore. Although many may see symbolism about life and aging in the book, Hemingway said there wasn't a deeper meaning in the prose.

#34. The Canterbury Tales

- Author: Geoffrey Chaucer - Score: 6,904 - Average rating: 3.52 (based on 211,378 ratings)

"The Canterbury Tales," written by Geoffrey Chaucer in the 14th century, was one of the first major works of English literature. The story follows a group of pilgrims who tell tales during their journey from London to Canterbury Cathedral. The cast of characters—including a carpenter, cook, and knight, among others—paints a varied picture of 14th-century society. The stories  inspired the modern film "A Knight's Tale," starring Heath Ledger as a poor knight and Paul Bettany as Chaucer.

#33. Othello

- Author: William Shakespeare - Score: 6,966 - Average rating: 3.89 (based on 363,620 ratings)

Shakespeare wrote "Othello" in the early 17th century. The play tells the tragic story of Othello—a Moor and general in the Venetian army, and Iago—a traitorous low-ranking officer. Shakespeare tackles themes of racism, betrayal, and jealousy. While he refers to Othello as "Black," Shakespeare most likely meant he was darker-skinned than most Englishmen at the time and not necessarily of African descent.

#32. Flowers for Algernon

- Author: Daniel Keyes - Score: 7,235 - Average rating: 4.18 (based on 597,740 ratings)

The main character in "Flowers for Algernon" is Charlie Gordon, a man of low intelligence who becomes a genius after undergoing an experimental procedure. The experiment has already been performed on a lab mouse named Algernon. Gordon's intelligence opens his eyes to things he's never understood before, but he eventually loses his newly acquired knowledge. The mouse, who Gordon remembers fondly, dies. Daniel Keyes wrote the book after realizing his education was causing a rift between him and his loved ones, making him wonder what it would be like if someone's intelligence could be increased.

#31. Beowulf

- Author: Unknown - Score: 7,844 - Average rating: 3.47 (based on 283,839 ratings)

"Beowulf" is an epic poem —an original manuscript copy is housed in the British Library—of 3,000 lines. It was written in Old English somewhere between A.D. 700 and 1000 and tells the story of Beowulf, a nobleman and warrior in Sweden who is sent to Denmark to fight a swamp monster called Grendel.

#30. A Tale of Two Cities

- Author: Charles Dickens - Score: 8,085 - Average rating: 3.86 (based on 901,761 ratings)

"A Tale of Two Cities" famously starts: "It was the best of times, it was the worst of times…" Set in the late 1700s, Charles Dickens vividly writes about the time leading up to and during the French Revolution. The historical novel describes death and despair but also touches on themes of redemption.

#29. Wuthering Heights

- Author: Emily Brontë - Score: 8,214 - Average rating: 3.88 (based on 1,651,158 ratings)

"Wuthering Heights," published in 1847, was the first and only novel by Emily Brontë, who died a year later at 30. Brontë tells the tragic love story between Heathcliff, an orphan, and Catherine, his wealthy benefactor's daughter. Considered a classic in English literature, the novel shows readers how passionate and destructive love can be.

#28. The Hobbit (The Lord of the Rings, #0)

- Author: J.R.R. Tolkien - Score: 8,552 - Average rating: 4.28 (based on 3,583,681 ratings)

" The Hobbit " is the story of Bilbo Baggins, a hobbit who sets off on a journey through the fictional world of Middle-earth in search of adventure and treasure. J.R.R. Tolkien originally wrote this book for his own kids, and it was an instant success in the children's book market. It also grew a keen following with older readers alongside the release of the "Lord of the Rings" trilogy in the 1960s, when it offered a great reprieve from the tumult of the times, and the big screen adaptation in the early 2000s.

#27. A Midsummer Night's Dream

- Author: William Shakespeare - Score: 8,974 - Average rating: 3.95 (based on 507,482 ratings)

Like many of Shakespeare's plays, "A Midsummer Night's Dream" explores the theme of love. This comedy shows the events that surround the marriage of Theseus, the duke of Athens, to Hippolyta, a former Amazon queen. The play also shares the stories of several other lovers influenced by the fairies who live in the forest near the wedding. The play is a favorite for actors and audiences, even today.

#26. The Grapes of Wrath

- Author: John Steinbeck - Score: 9,047 - Average rating: 3.99 (based on 852,960 ratings)

"The Grapes of Wrath" is considered a great American novel partly because it brought to light the destruction and despair caused by the Dust Bowl and the Great Depression. The story follows Tom Joad after he is released from prison to find his family's Oklahoma farmstead empty and destroyed. Joad and his family later set off for a new life in California, only to face struggles along the way. The book, which focuses on hard work, won a  Pulitzer Prize  in 1940.

#25. Great Expectations

- Author: Charles Dickens - Score: 9,647 - Average rating: 3.79 (based on 751,833 ratings)

This Charles Dickens classic tells the story of Pip, an orphan who gets a chance at a better life through an anonymous benefactor. The plot mostly centers around Pip's regular visits to Miss Havisham, a wealthy recluse, and his love for her adopted daughter Estella, who is cold toward Pip until years later. Many consider the novel a great masterpiece .

#24. Frankenstein: The 1818 Text

- Author: Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley - Score: 10,277 - Average rating: 3.85 (based on 1,435,457 ratings)

At just 20 , Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley created what is often labeled as the first science fiction novel : "Frankenstein." While staying with a group of literary comrades, Lord Byron challenged his fellow writers to craft ghost stories. Shelley's story was sparked by a nightmare that ultimately became the classic novel about a mad scientist who created a monster from the body parts of corpses, then brought the creature to life.

#23. Julius Caesar

- Author: William Shakespeare - Score: 10,472 - Average rating: 3.70 (based on 191,622 ratings)

Shakespeare takes on history with "Julius Caesar," a tragic story of power and betrayal. Brutus, who worked closely with Caesar, joined his fellow conspirators to assassinate Caesar to save the republic from a tyrannical leader. The events had the opposite effect when, only two years later, Caesar's grandnephew was crowned the first emperor of Rome. The play marked a political shift in Shakespeare's writing.

#22. The Outsiders

- Author: S.E. Hinton - Score: 10,564 - Average rating: 4.12 (based on 1,193,939 ratings)

S.E. Hinton introduced readers to 14-year-old Ponyboy Curtis in "The Outsiders," a novel she started to write when she was 16. The plot centers around two rival gangs: the lower-class Greasers and the well-off Socials. It touches on teen angst , including the frustrations young people have when they can't rely on adults to change things while also not knowing how to fix things themselves. Hinton's publishers encouraged her to publish under her initials because they didn't think the public would respect a book about teenage boys by someone with the feminine name of Susan Eloise Hinton.

#21. Brave New World

- Author: Aldous Huxley - Score: 10,853 - Average rating: 3.99 (based on 1,711,789 ratings)

In "Brave New World," published in 1932, Aldous Huxley paints a picture of a dystopian future where people consume pills called soma to get a sense of instant bliss without side effects. Emotions, individuality, and lasting relationships aren't allowed. A preordained class system is decided at the embryonic stage, with certain people getting hormones for peak mental and athletic fitness. Some historians believe the book's plot could represent the future in the next 100 years.

#20. Night (The Night Trilogy, #1)

- Author: Elie Wiesel - Score: 11,080 - Average rating: 4.36 (based on 1,150,070 ratings)

"Night," the first in a trilogy of books, is the most well-known of the more than 50 works Elie Wiesel produced in his lifetime. In just over 100 pages, Wiesel recounts his experiences at the Auschwitz and Buchenwald concentration camps during the Holocaust—a history he felt compelled to share, as he stated in his 1986 Nobel Peace Prize acceptance speech , "Because, if we forget, we are guilty, we are accomplices." The impact of this book has only grown since its publication in 1956, with educators teaching the book in schools for decades and book sales soaring alongside current events, including Wiesel's death in July 2016.

#19. The Crucible

- Author: Arthur Miller - Score: 11,619 - Average rating: 3.60 (based on 380,466 ratings)

This 1953 play is a dramatized version of the Salem witch trials of the late 1600s. In the novel, a group of young girls are dancing in the forest; when caught, they fake illness and shift blame to avoid punishment. Their lies set off witchcraft accusations throughout the town. Arthur Miller wrote "The Crucible" to protest the actions of Sen. Joseph McCarthy , who set up a committee in the early 1950s to investigate and prosecute the Communists he thought had infiltrated the government. It won the 1953 Tony Award for Best Play.

#18. The Giver (The Giver, #1)

- Author: Lois Lowry - Score: 11,635 - Average rating: 4.13 (based on 2,238,142 ratings)

" The Giver " is the dystopian tale of a boy chosen to hold one of the most difficult and important professions in his community—the keeper of all memories from the time before, including the pain and difficulties that have been erased from the seemingly utopian world around them. In 1994, Lois Lowry was awarded the Newbery Medal —a prestigious award for children's literature in the United States—for the first installation of her book quartet. The book's complicated themes of racism, religion, and politics lend themselves more to older readers, creating rich discussion in high school classrooms.

#17. Jane Eyre

- Author: Charlotte Brontë - Score: 11,990 - Average rating: 4.14 (based on 1,941,542 ratings)

Charlotte Brontë—sister to Emily—speaks directly to the reader in "Jane Eyre." The Victorian novel follows the headstrong Jane, an orphan who lives with her aunt and cousins, on her quest to find her identity and true love. The novel, marketed as an autobiography and published in 1847 under the pen name Currer Bell, is written in the first person and introduces " the concept of the self " in writing.

#16. Fahrenheit 451

- Author: Ray Bradbury - Score: 12,468 - Average rating: 3.97 (based on 2,162,063 ratings)

Ray Bradbury describes a futuristic world where books are banned and burned. Guy Montag, one firefighter tasked with extinguishing the books, questions the practice. When Bradbury wrote the classic in the 1950s, television sets were becoming ubiquitous in American households. The theme of the book was a warning about how mass media could interfere with people's ability or desire to think critically, a theme that many think resonates with the social media-obsessed world of today.

#15. Pride and Prejudice

- Author: Jane Austen - Score: 13,486 - Average rating: 4.28 (based on 3,854,915 ratings)

Published in 1813, "Pride and Prejudice" was Jane Austen's second novel. The story follows the will-they-won't-they relationship between the wealthy Mr. Darcy and Elizabeth Bennet, who comes from meager means. Throughout the chapters, both change for the better as they fall in love. The book has inspired at least  a dozen or more  movie and television adaptations.

#14. The Odyssey

- Author: Homer - Score: 15,087 - Average rating: 3.79 (based on 1,001,633 ratings)

"The Odyssey," a Greek epic poem , follows Odysseus as he travels back to the island of Ithaca after fighting in the war at Troy—something addressed in Homer's poem "The Iliad." When he returns home, he and his son, Telemachus, kill all the men trying to marry Odysseus's wife, Penelope. In the end, Athena, the goddess of wisdom, victory, and war, intervenes. Like many Greek myths, it focuses on themes of love, courage, and revenge.

#13. The Diary of a Young Girl

- Author: Anne Frank - Score: 15,739 - Average rating: 4.18 (based on 3,425,782 ratings)

In 1944, a young Anne Frank recorded her thoughts and feelings as she and other Jewish citizens hid from the German Nazis during World War II. The coming-of-age diary, which chronicles Frank's time hiding in the Secret Annex while she became a young woman, has been translated into 70 languages. While she and most of her family were killed, her father survived and helped publish her work, making it possible for millions to learn her story.

#12. The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn

- Author: Mark Twain - Score: 16,638 - Average rating: 3.83 (based on 1,228,955 ratings)

Huckleberry Finn is the main character in this follow-up novel to "The Adventures of Tom Sawyer." The book explores themes of racism as Huck Finn floats down the Mississippi River with a man escaping slavery. Like Huck at the end of his tale, Twain changed his views on slavery and rejected it as an institution.

- Author: George Orwell - Score: 17,337 - Average rating: 4.19 (based on 4,095,733 ratings)

George Orwell describes a dystopian future rife with war and one where the government—led by Big Brother—controls the truth and snuffs out individual thought. The protagonist, Winston Smith, becomes disillusioned with the Party, and he rebels against it. Although it was published in 1949, the novel had a resurgence in 2017.

#10. The Scarlet Letter

- Author: Nathaniel Hawthorne - Score: 17,684 - Average rating: 3.43 (based on 814,235 ratings)

Nathaniel Hawthorne published "The Scarlet Letter" in 1850. In the novel, based on historical events , readers follow the story of Hester Prynne, a woman who is forced to wear a red "A" on her clothes after she conceives a child out of wedlock. She bears the punishment alone when she refuses to name the baby's father. Her character marked one of the first where a strong woman was the protagonist . Hawthorne's novel also touches on themes of hypocrisy, shame, guilt, and love.

- Author: William Shakespeare - Score: 19,419 - Average rating: 4.03 (based on 875,058 ratings)

Hamlet, the prince of Denmark, becomes vengeful after attending his father's funeral, only to find his mother has remarried Claudius, his uncle. The stepfather crowns himself king, a role that should have gone to Hamlet. The prince finds out his father was murdered, after which he kills the new king. Ambiguity runs through the play and the character of Hamlet, whose visions of ghosts are up for interpretation—are they real or a figment of the troubled man's imagination? The tragedy, which launched the famous line "To be, or not to be… " shines a light on some of the worst traits of humanity . Some consider the play Shakespeare's greatest work .

#8. The Catcher in the Rye

- Author: J.D. Salinger - Score: 19,450 - Average rating: 3.81 (based on 3,262,066 ratings)

J.D. Salinger aptly captures teen angst in "The Catcher in the Rye" when the reader gets a look at three days in the life of its narrator, the 16-year-old Holden Caulfield. The book was an instant success, but some schools have banned it from their libraries and reading lists, citing vulgarity and sexual content.

#7. Of Mice and Men

- Author: John Steinbeck - Score: 19,958 - Average rating: 3.88 (based on 2,350,603 ratings)

"Of Mice and Men" tells the story of George and his simple-minded friend Lennie. The two have to get new jobs on a ranch because of some trouble in Lennie's past. The novel, set during the Great Depression, tackles topics of poverty, sexism, and racism .

#6. Macbeth

- Author: William Shakespeare - Score: 21,256 - Average rating: 3.90 (based on 822,057 ratings)

Another Shakespeare classic, "Macbeth" portrays the weakness of humanity. The character of Macbeth receives a prophecy that he will one day become king of Scotland. His unchecked ambition ends in murder; Macbeth kills King Duncan to steal the throne for himself. It shows the destructive influence of political ambition and pursuing power for its own sake.

#5. Animal Farm

- Author: George Orwell - Score: 22,478 - Average rating: 3.98 (based on 3,491,043 ratings)

A group of farm animals organizes a revolt after they realize their master, Mr. Jones, is mistreating them and offering them nothing in return for their work. When they challenge the leadership, they are disciplined for speaking out. This classic isn't about animal rights. It is a larger critique of Soviet Communism . Orwell wrote it as an attack against Stalinism in Russia .

#4. Lord of the Flies

- Author: William Golding - Score: 24,079 - Average rating: 3.69 (based on 2,692,219 ratings)

"Lord of the Flies" tells the alarming story of a group of young boys who survive a plane crash, only to descend into tribalism on the island where they landed. Two of the boys—Ralph and Jack—clash in their pursuit of leadership. The novel, which has been challenged in schools , shows how struggles for power based on fear and division can result in a collapse of social order, themes that might seem relevant in the current fraught political climate.

#3. The Great Gatsby

- Author: F. Scott Fitzgerald - Score: 29,912 - Average rating: 3.93 (based on 4,737,607 ratings)

Nick Carraway, a Midwest transplant and Yale graduate, moves to West Egg, Long Island, and enters a world of extravagance when he becomes entangled with millionaire Jay Gatsby and socialite Daisy Buchanan. The novel is viewed as a cautionary tale about achieving the American dream of wealth and excess.

#2. Romeo and Juliet

- Author: William Shakespeare - Score: 34,901 - Average rating: 3.74 (based on 2,430,511 ratings)

Two star-crossed lovers meet and perish in this tragedy. Juliet, a Capulet, falls in love with Romeo, a Montague. Because their families are rivals, they are forbidden to marry. They secretly wed before misfortune leads to their deaths. Losing their children inspires peace among the families. Some critics claim the play's childish view of love hasn't stood the test of time, but others think the story is multilayered and deserves its classic status.

#1. To Kill a Mockingbird

- Author: Harper Lee - Score: 44,390 - Average rating: 4.27 (based on 5,584,470 ratings)

Harper Lee's first novel, published in 1960, tackles issues of racial and social injustice in the South. Set in Alabama, it introduces readers to Atticus Finch, a lawyer who defends a Black man accused of sexually assaulting a white woman. The point-of-view comes from Atticcus' daughter, Scout, while Boo Radley, their reclusive neighbor, adds another dimension to this classic story of racism and childhood. Lee's work won her a Pulitzer Prize and the Presidential Medal of Freedom. Because of some racial language, the book has been challenged in many schools throughout America.

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  1. The inaugural freshmen class at CAST Tech report to their assigned

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  2. Assigned high school system coming to Regina

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  3. Beaverton's Westview High School takes first place at Regional Science

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  4. Assigned high-school books you should read again! Books You Should Read

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  5. Books I Was Assigned in High School

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  6. So custom-painted assigned high school senior parking spots are a thing

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  1. Find Your School District and Nearby Schools

    Use the map to find your district boundaries, assigned public schools and nearby school districts. Top. An excellent education for every child. GreatSchools is the leading nonprofit providing high-quality information that supports parents pursuing a great education for their child, schools striving for excellence, and communities working to ...

  2. Find My School

    Find My School is a free online tool that helps you locate and compare the best schools in your area. Whether you are looking for public, private, charter, or magnet schools, you can search by address, zip code, or city and get detailed information on each school's performance, demographics, and programs. Find My School also provides reviews and ratings from parents and students, as well as ...

  3. Find Schools Near You

    Schools Near You. Look up public schools and school districts by address or ZIP code. Find out what school district you are in and what school you are zoned for by exploring our school boundary maps. Note: School map boundaries may have changed for the current school year so please contact your school district to verify school assignment for ...

  4. School Boundaries & Assignments

    An assigned school serves all students from its assigned attendance area who wish to enroll there. Intradistrict/School Choice, where seats are available, and Alternative Schools provide choices for students who wish to enroll in a school other than their assigned neighborhood school. ... To view a printable map of the high school attendance ...

  5. School choice: what are your options?

    Your Neighborhood School. Generally, your first option is your neighborhood school. Each public school district sets up its own rules and boundaries for each school in the district, so it is best to check with your local district to find out which school your child will be assigned to, and what the rules are for attending charter schools ...

  6. Wake County Public School System

    Find Base School Assignment by Address. A student's base schools are based on the residence of the student. Please enter the street number and a few characters of the street name in the box below. When you see your address in the list, click it to view the assigned base schools. To find your magnet, early college, and application options visit ...

  7. Enroll in Irvine USD

    Enrollment for the 2024-25 school year will open on March 1st, 2024 at approximately noon. The information and links for parents/legal guardians to enroll students are located toward the bottom of this page. Once Steps 1, 2 and 3 have been completed, a staff member from your assigned school will be in contact by email or phone.

  8. Student Assignment / Student Assignment

    Welcome! All the information you need to register for school or change schools is located in this section of our website. If you need any help, give us a call at (919) 431-7333 or contact us online . Register Online All families register online. Learn more and register. Find your Base School Use our address look-up tool to find your base school.

  9. Student Assignment Plan

    Elementary, middle, and high school students are first assigned to an attendance area school based on where the student lives. Individual school attendance area maps are on our School Directory page. To view attendance area school assignments for elementary, middle, and high school students using your current address, use the address lookup tool.

  10. School Finder

    School Finder 2023-2024 - Use this tool to find school and program assignments for an address. The information reflects the school boundaries for the current school year. Questions or comments can be directed to: The Department of Pupil Accounting & School Boundaries at (301) 952-6300 or email [email protected]

  11. PDF Information and evidence in this snapshot are Publication Information

    In the 2015-16 school year, 75 percent of Chicago Public Schools (CPS) ninth-graders opted out of their assigned high school. These students could choose from more than 300 programs at 138 public high schools. Selective enrollment high schools (SEHSs) were among the most high-profile and most sought-out options: 13,400 students applied for

  12. What's the Right Amount of Homework?

    The National PTA and the National Education Association support the " 10-minute homework guideline "—a nightly 10 minutes of homework per grade level. But many teachers and parents are quick to point out that what matters is the quality of the homework assigned and how well it meets students' needs, not the amount of time spent on it.

  13. Resident School Identifier

    All families are welcome to enroll their students at their resident assigned school, or they may apply to the various specialized programs offered at Resident School Identifier. Instructions: Please be sure to enter the full street address, including: Street address number. Street name.

  14. The Most Commonly Read Books in High School

    Many high school students enjoy F. Scott Fitzgerald's 1925 The Great Gatsby, a riveting and beautifully written tale of lust, love, greed, and class anxiety in the Roaring Twenties. There are parallels to modern America, and the characters are compelling. Many students read this book in English class while they are studying American history ...

  15. School Choice / Find My Assigned School

    Find My Assigned School. Please enter your child's home address and city. If your street name is a number, enter the suffix (for example: 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th). Address not found?

  16. Enrollment / Find Your Base School

    Enrollment. In Wake County, students are assigned to a base elementary, middle, and high school for their home address. Find your base school using our address look-up tool. You will also find options other than your base school that you may apply for. All new students must start the enrollment process by enrolling at their base school.

  17. These high school 'classics' have been taught for generations

    The last period of significant change to the canon was during the 1960s and 1970s, when the largest generation of the 20th century, the baby boomers, went to high school. For instance, in 1963, a ...

  18. What Kids Are Reading, In School And Out : NPR

    Most of the assigned books are novels, like To Kill a Mockingbird, Of Mice and Men or Animal Farm. Students even read recent works like The Help and The Notebook. But in 1989, high school students ...

  19. High Schools Assign 3.5 Hours of Homework a Night, Survey Estimates

    For students who study five days a week, that's 42 minutes a day per class, or 3.5 hours a day for a typical student taking five classes. Middle school teachers (grades 6-8) assigned roughly the ...

  20. 50 classics from (almost) everyone's high school reading list

    Research shows that reading fiction encourages empathy.While more high school curriculums should include modern, diverse writers like Amy Tan and Malala Yousafzai, certain classics—like John Steinbeck's "The Grapes of Wrath" and Sandra Cisneros' "The House on Mango Street"—endure. Some even make a comeback. George Orwell's "1984," a novel published in 1949 about a dystopian future where ...

  21. State Assigned Student Identifier (SASID)

    A State Assigned Student Identifiers (SASID) is a unique identifier given to each student receiving a publicly funded education in Massachusetts. The SASID number remains with the student throughout his or her educational life in grades pre-K through 12, even as the student transfers from one district or school to another.

  22. Required Reading in High School (802 books)

    We all had to read some of them. The ones I was assigned from this list, in highschool: Romeo and Juliet, The Great Gatsby (didn't read lol), Lord of the Flies, Macbeth, Animal Farm, 1984 and The Crucible. reply | flag. message 32: by ~☆~Autumn (last edited Jun 09, 2016 10:41PM) (new) Jun 09, 2016 10:37PM.

  23. 16 "Assigned-Reading" Books You Loved in High School

    I liked Portrait of Dorian Gray, 1984, The Great Gatsby, and The Good Earth. My favorite "assigned reading" book in high school was The Once and Future King. I also loved The Martian Chronicles, but that one was never assigned reading for me. for a class on Canadian literature.