Helping Students Adapt to New World Realities

Students need opportunities to succeed in a rapidly changing world. The impact of current turmoil in China on the world economy is only one example of how quickly things can change, and the need to adapt. Deeper learning is a term for skills and knowledge that will help students succeed in the classroom and on the job in twenty-first century life.

A recent survey of Fortune 500 companies shows the most valuable skills an employee can have in the twenty-first century are skills that are the focal points of deeper learning: teamwork, problem solving, and communication. Students who have mastered the full deeper learning skill set can set their own goals and adapt to new circumstances. The core of deeper learning is a group of six competencies summarized below.

  1. Mastery of core academics, such as reading, writing, math, and science.
  2. Learning to solve complex problems.
  3. Learning teamwork
  4. Learning to communicate effectively.
  5. Learning how to learn, which includes working well independently but asking for help when needed.
  6. Developing academic mindsets, which includes students seeing work through to completion and understanding the relevance of school work to their lives and interests.

This is where Merit fits in.

Merit programs provide detailed coverage of the core competencies students need to succeed.

Concepts in reading, writing, grammar, and vocabulary are covered from the basics to higher levels. Built-in hints and tips support students while they work,

Progress automatically tracked in an easy-to-use tracking tool for students and instructors.

Learn more at www.meritsoftware.com

Improving Employability and Academic Skills How Merit Can Help

A recent survey of Kentucky Chamber of Commerce members bemoans the lack of “soft skills” or employability skills among prospective employees. In fact, 27% of employers surveyed report a need for improvement of these skills. Such skills include communication, teamwork, motivation, and the like.

Among the reasons students struggle in college and later in the workplace are lack of motivation or persistence and inadequate preparation, say the authors of a new report from Achieve.org.

Merit’s personalized learning software has built-in scaffolds and supports. The programs motivate students while they work. This enhances both academic and employability skills.

Learn more at www.meritsoftware.com

 

Are Chinese Students Faltering in American Universities?

There have been a number of recent news articles about the changing relationship between Chinese students and American universities. In the past, such students tended to be well-qualified graduate students sponsored by the Chinese government and living on tight budgets.

More recently, the resources of a burgeoning Chinese middle class have given parents the ability to send their children abroad to study. Unlike their predecessors, many of the students are less prepared and are entering undergraduate rather than graduate programs. At this time, they seem to care more about the reputation of the school than finding programs that fit their capabilities. As a consequence, according to an estimate by a U.S. education company, some 8,000 Chinese students were expelled from American universities last year alone—owing primarily to poor grades and cheating.

This issue is not just confined to Chinese students. Some Montana Tech students from Saudi Arabia who were caught in a cheating scandal back in 2012 were reportedly offered flights home to avoid arrest according to a local report.

This is where Merit Software comes in. By using Merit programs, the English language skills of Chinese and other international students can be improved to make study abroad more accessible and beneficial. Several Chinese students in U.S. schools have benefited from the Merit’s Grammar Fitness and Confused Word Fix-Up products.

Read more:

California’s Acceptance of Common Core State Standards

Merit Software helps the common coreA recent report issued by Children Now, a national think tank and advocate on children’s issues, states that 93 percent of California voters want schools to teach skills mandated in the Common Core Standards—that is, greater daily use of analysis, critical thinking, and real-world skills.

The strong acceptance in California of the Common Core is in contrast with overwhelming resistance to it in many states. Teachers and parents in some states are trying to repeal its use by urging students to refuse to take the test.

However, Californians are on board with the program and in favor of “measuring students on reading and writing skills across all subjects, including math and science.” They believe the program will prepare students for the competitive job market and make them more competitive with their peers from other countries.

Click here to read more.

Affordable ACT Preparation

Community Charter HS wants to provide ACT help for all 11th serves students with a wide range of socio-economic backgrounds.

The school is seeking to utilize existing technology resources to help students prepare for the English and Reading portions of the exam. In previous years, a teacher provided ACT test prep outside of the classroom.

*This school does not exist. It is a pseudonym for the school that took part in the webinar.

Recommendations

We looked primarily at Developing Critical Thinking Skills for Upper Grades and Grammar Fitness Advanced. Several aspects of the programs impressed webinar participants:

Faculty liked the variety and constructive feedback in Developing Critical Thinking Skills for Upper Grades.

Grammar Fitness Advanced aligns well to the ACT test, according to webinar participants.

Learn more about:

Why Standardized Testing Advocates Are Wrong

Answers to the testUse of digital, adaptive learning programs such as those produced by Merit reduce the need for annual standardized testing in core subjects, particularly English Language Arts, in U.S. public schools.

The programs’ built-in tracking and feedback provide useful formative assessments for teachers, parents, and administrators.

It is easy to compare the results of users of the programs to get a snapshot of competency. Merit learning programs are also for teachers to learn to use.

Technology associated with adaptive programs is no longer a barrier. Student use of Internet in schools has increased dramatically. Schools are providing better training and equipment.

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Standardized tests have their place, and should not be abandoned altogether. However, adaptive learning software can, and should, be used to monitor and enhance student achievement.

New Enhancements to Punch Writing Programs

Merit is pleased to announce new enhancements to its Punch process writing programs including Paragraph Punch, Open Punch, and Essay Punch.

Students who have completed a written work may now edit it by logging into their Online Portfolios.

The Post Published Editing tool allows users to see the current state of their work, review past versions, and print their newly updated paragraphs. The paragraph as it was initially published will be preserved both on the Published Paragraph screen, and on the Post Published Edits screen under the title “Original.”

New-Punch-Tools

The improved editing functionality has been seamlessly integrated into the software and is backwardly compatible with all previously completed written works.

Learn more about the Punch writing programs:

Starter Paragraph Punch

Paragraph Punch

Open Punch

Essay Punch

 

It’s Time to Level the Playing Field So More Students Can Compete Academically

FriendsWhile students respond positively to teachers who set high academic expectations, teachers often fail to set these expectations for students from disadvantaged backgrounds.

A report from the Center for American Progress entitled “The Power of the Pygmalion Effect” indicates that teacher expectations strongly predict college completion.

Data suggest that more needs to be done to improve teachers’ instructional skills and to dispel social stereotypes.

Teachers do not get the rigorous training they need and most teacher prep programs do not give training in high-performing, high-poverty schools, according to the report.

This is where Merit fits in.

Merit programs provide detailed coverage of the core competencies students require to succeed.

Concepts in reading, writing, grammar, and vocabulary are covered from the basics to higher levels. Built-in hints and tips support students while they work.

Progress is automatically monitored in an easy-to-use tracking tool for instructors.

The software is adaptive and adjusts to a suitable level of challenge with minimal teacher intervention.

Learn more at www.meritsoftware.com

 

 

The High Price of Colleges’ Failures

Happy businessman with laptop smilingRecent college graduates who are struggling to start careers are being hurt by their lack of learning, according to Richard Arum and Josipa Roksa, authors of the groundbreaking book, “Academically Adrift: Limited Learning on College Campuses.”

In the original study, the authors had a sample of four-year undergraduates take the Collegiate Learning Assessment during their freshman year. The same students then took the CLA again during their senior year, and their scores saw very little change. The test includes essay-based critical thinking, analytical reasoning, and communication skills questions.

A recently published follow-up study of the same students,tracking them for two years following graduation, found skills measured by high-scoring CLA students had made a significant difference to finding and keeping a first job.

Students who had higher CLA scores had spent more time studying alone and took classes where teachers enforced high expectations, such as writing long papers.

Low CLA scoring students were twice as likely to lose their jobs as high CLA students, implying employers can tell who got a good college education and who did not. Low CLA scoring graduates were also 50 percent more likely to end up in an unskilled occupation, and were less likely to be satisfied with their jobs.

Articles about the follow-up study are here, here, and here.

Merit Software helps build the skills that are highly correlated with high CLA scores, including critical thinking, analytical reasoning, and communications skills.

Merit programs provide detailed coverage of the core competencies students require to succeed. Concepts in reading, writing, grammar, and vocabulary are covered from the basics to higher levels.

Built-in hints and tips support students while they work. Progress is automatically monitored in an easy-to-use tracking tool for instructors. The software is adaptive and adjusts to a suitable level of challenge with minimal teacher intervention.

Recommended resources:

Merit’s New UI Changes

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Merit is pleased to announce the recent rollout of several user interface changes to its online learning platform.

Among the changes are: a flexible design, based on the dimensions of the users screen display; larger font sizes; and crisper, clearer buttons.

The new look may be seen by trying any full-working demo from a Merit program’s web page.