Teachers and schools need to do their homework about homework.
A Victorian parliamentary inquiry heard that some universities do not train new teachers to help them set homework for students, while existing teachers have "very little guidance" from their schools on assigning homework.
Education expert Associate Professor Richard Walker, from the University of Sydney, told the inquiry that this training gap needs to change for the benefit of students.
The inquiry's report, tabled in parliament on Wednesday, said the Department of Education and Early Childhood Development (DEECD) does not directly develop or enforce homework policies but supports schools to develop their own with their communities.
But the DEECD told the inquiry it had not updated its published homework policy guidelines for schools for seven years.
The inquiry recommended that the DEECD review its guidelines and offer schools a better policy framework, and that it commission an evidence-based project assessing the effectiveness of different homework practices.
The inquiry also found that homework may be widening the gap between the richest and poorest Victorian students and that some students are falling behind.
"In its written submission, Good Shepherd Youth and Family Service noted that low-income households are particularly affected by increasing education costs, especially in relation to technology," its report said.
"Families may not be able to afford one computer or tablet, let alone one per child. This means that the children may not be able to fully participate in class, or complete their homework."
The inquiry recommended setting up homework clubs to ease financial stress on parents and give students access to technology not available to them at home.