Merit has now made it easier and more affordable for educational organizations to increase academic achievement.
Effective immediately, Merit’s subscription-based, online learning programs allow tutors and teachers to drop and add students, at no cost. Continue reading
U.S. public school systems have graduated hundreds of thousands of students in the past decade who couldn’t read, write or solve math problems well enough to take some college-level courses.
New Gallup.com research on U.S. students in grades 5 through 12 strongly suggests that the longer students stay in school, the less engaged they become.
“The drop in student engagement for each year students are in school is our monumental,
collective national failure. There are several things that might help to explain why this is
happening — ranging from our overzealous focus on standardized testing and curricula
to our lack of experiential and project-based learning pathways for students,” writes a
We here at Merit Software also see this trend as problematic. That’s why we develop interactive,
engaging learning tools to help teachers and students attain success.
Read more …
ABC School District is looking for a way to help a large number of students in upper elementary and middle school grades improve their English grammar and reading skills.
The school district has several K-8 schools. Many students struggle with English Language Arts skills.
The school district’s high school graduation rate is 64%. Yet, state data show 89% of the district’s graduates need to catch up in college before taking credit courses.
The district is in a state that is part of the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium or SABC. The SBAC is one of the two standardized tests being evaluated for assessing how well students are mastering the Common Core State Standards.
To help students improve in English Language Arts, the school district wants to use real-time, formative assessments of performance tasks students could see on a standardized test.
- We looked primarily at Grammar Fitness. A few aspects of the program impressed webinar participants.
- They felt the exercises provided in the program looked like ones students could see on a standardized test.
- They liked the ability of Grammar Fitness to track entire classes with a few keystrokes, and drill down to see areas where an individual student needed help or where the entire class of students needed additional help.
Students’ ability to be part of the mastery process also appealed to participants. Students can see their own progress with the end-of-round summary screens and within their own online portfolio.
Grammar Fitness is personalized and students receive context-clues to help master troublesome concepts. Teachers appreciated this aspect of the program.
Participants also liked the fact that they could have students redo exercises if necessary, and use the Finals section as part of an end-of-course grade.
According Chinese and French researchers people harness the same brain centers for reading across cultures. The results provide further insights about ways to improve reading instruction.
The findings were published this month the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
“Rather than focusing on ear and eye in reading, the authors rightly point out that hand and eye are critical players,” says Uta Frith, a cognitive neuroscientist at University College London. “This could lead into novel directions — for instance, it might provide answers why many people with dyslexia also have very poor handwriting and not just poor spelling.”
Read more at Scientific American
U.S. colleges need to provide more counseling and academic support for students who are at risk of dropping out, according to a recent report. Student loan debt is at an all-time high, and barely half of students who start college get a degree in six years.
The report, Debt to Degree: A New Way of Measuring College Success, from the non-partisan research Education Sector group says students need to be better prepared for college and colleges need to find ways to make higher education more effective for students.
Current examples of how colleges worldwide are using Merit programs include:
- providing English grammar training and support at the start of the academic year.
- nurturing students’ mastery of expository writing techniques – to persuade, inform, and describe.
- enabling students returning to school to reacquaint themselves with reading comprehension, writing, and math skills before enrolling in credit courses.
Learn more about Merit Solutions for College Prep.
Read Debt to Degree: A New Way to Measure College Success.
With the advent of the Common Core, Merit has introduced Open Punch, which helps students brainstorm and write assignments on the Web. In the Open Punch program, writing topics are assigned based on timely events as well as texts students have read. Highlights of the program include
- Interactive modules for Opinion, Fact, and Narrative writing topics.
- Built-in tips that guide students through each step of the writing process.
- A tracking tool that enables instructors to view pupil writing at different stages of development.
Recently the New York Times began posting three Common Core-aligned writing tasks based on news stories. Open Punch program ties in well with this feature.
In the writing tasks published October 26, 2012, the Opinion module can be applied to the “Chickens Threaten to Divide Brooklyn” task, the Fact-based module can be used for the “Gleaning Clues from the Clouds” assignment, and the Narrative module can be applied to the “Finding Zen” article.
Click here to learn more about Open Punch.
We have received many emails asking about the impact of Hurricane Sandy on us. We are fortunate that everyone at Merit Software is safe and sound. Merit Software is open and doing business.
The storm has caused problems with the local transportation infrastructure and communications networks. The result of which may result in slight delays in handling matters for customers. Thank you for your kind words and support.
Recent research has shown that the vast majority of U.S. secondary students struggle with writing. Merit’s writing programs have a strong track record of helping teachers improve students’ writing skills.
With the advent of the Common Core, Merit has introduced Open Punch. Open Punch helps students brainstorm and write assignments on the Web. Writing topics may be assigned based on timely events as well as texts students have read and personal tastes. Highlights of the program include:
- Interactive modules for Opinion, Fact, and Narrative prompts.
- Built-in tips that guide students through each step of the writing process.
- Instructor monitoring that allows online tracking of student writing.
Open Punch ties in well with the launch today of a New York Times Learning Network Common Core Practice feature. In collaboration with two 9th-grade teachers, the Times began to post actual tasks English students have used in the classroom. Each week the Times will target one or more of the Common Core E.L.A. Anchor Standards and provide ideas for developing the task.
Our goal here is to help teachers know which Open Punch writing prompts can be used with the New York Times’ Common Core Practice activities.
For the Common Core activities posted September 21, 2012 the Open Punch Opinion module can be used for the “Medical Manga” and “Restaurant Review” tasks. The Fact module can be used as part of the “Restaurant Review” assignment.
Only 27 percent of U.S. students achieved a proficient score on a nationwide writing test – the NAEP for Writing 2011. The test was the first nationwide writing test ever given on computers. Students in 8 th and 12th grades took it in 2011.
An analysis showed that the lower scoring writers made fewer key presses to both write and revise their work compared to higher scoring writers. Key presses were not a determining element in students’ writing scores.
Merit’s Punch Writing programs have a strong track record of helping students develop clear, concise written works. The programs guide pupils through the writing process, providing hints and tips at every step of the way.
The hints and tips facilitate the generation of ideas, revisions, and corrections as students’ write. Additional key presses are an inevitable result as students expand, elaborate, and refine their writing.
Plus, student writing is automatically stored in a convenient Online Portfolio. Teachers are easily able to view written work at different stages of development.
Full-working samples, implementation ideas, and pricing may be found on each of the Punch programs’ web pages.
Grammar Fitness is another tool that can improve students’ writing too. It provides interactive grammar practice, combined with progress tracking, to help students recognize and revise errors in their writing practice.