High School English

Preparing Students for High School English

Educators are always interested in learning more about ways to intervene and assist with students. Here at Merit we receive many inquiries about our products from teachers who wish to find new ways to improve learning.

A recent message came from a teacher who is working with students in a newly developed general English course for first-year high school students who are not ready for the standard English 1 course in the district.

About half the students are ESL or on an individualized education program (IEP). The rest have tested over two grades behind in writing and grammar. They need lots of writing practice and intervention.

The first nine weeks of the course were spent on sentence writing and fluency, including work on simple, compound, and complex sentences, and transitions from one to another.

The second nine weeks built on the sentence writing work by focusing on strong paragraph writing.

The teacher turned to Merit’s Paragraph Punch, a program that takes students through the process of writing a basic paragraph. Online interactive exercises guide the students.

The program has an online tutor whom the students call “Lola.” Lola leads them step-by-step through the writing process.

Stressed Student

Preventing Fadeout in Interventions

Persistence and Fadeout in the Impacts of Child and Adolescent Interventions,” a new research paper that has gotten a lot of attention in the education press, the authors conclude that when interventions target cognitive skills or behaviors, capacities or beliefs, promising impacts at the end of programs often fade out quickly.

On the other hand, the authors believe interventions that target what they call “trifecta” skills,” skills that are malleable, fundamental, and unlikely to develop in the absence of intervention are long-lasting. These are interventions that persist.

A key “trifecta” intervention includes advanced literacy and communication skills, a focus of Merit Software.

Expanding Educational Opportunities for Older Students

Merit Software helps with business educationMost programs that address the high school dropout issue have focused on dropout prevention or dropout recovery of young people. When an individual passes the dropout recovery age, the age at which state funding for dropout recovery ends (about 16), the high school diploma becomes very difficult to attain. This situation is exacerbated by recent changes to the GED that make it more difficult to pass.

However, according to Kate Schimel (Education Dive, October 2015), the focus for adult recovery is shifting to programs new state systems that help provide support for adults who need the certificate to get a job. These programs rely in part on increasing availability of technology-based resources, which now have stronger support and accountability.

This is where Merit can fit in.

Merit’s GED Prep Bundle covers the key concepts students need to know to pass the GED exam. The software contains a wide variety of interactive learning activities that have been effective in mastering skills relevant to GED success.

The bundle will familiarize students with the type of content they will see on the exam. Lessons are self-paced and self-correcting.

Student scores are tracked in a record management system that allows instructors and students to view results and print reports.

Learn more about the GED Prep Bundle.

Happy businessman with laptop smiling

Can The Rise Of College Student Dropout Rates Be Stopped? and how Merit can help!

Only 55 percent of first-time U.S. college students in 2008 completed a degree in 6 years, according to a recent report by the National Student Clearinghouse. This poor performance impacts not only the future of students but of institutions themselves. Ranking, reputation, and the bottom line can be affected.

To stem the dropout rate, many institutions are turning to web-facing services to improve learning and to support students to stay in school and complete their degrees. Here are two examples of technology-based tactics, as outlined by eCampus News, that can keep students in college and help them graduate.

  1. Online and blended learning: This tactic is good for remediation and course-credit recovery. It combines online coursework with in-person interaction and real-time class discussions.
  2. Monitoring, assessment, and early alert: These evaluate risk factors and develop appropriate interventions.

This is where Merit comes in.

In Merit programs, strategies have been developed and implemented both to prepare students for college and to provide remediation to college students who require it.

Merit offers online programs in college prep reading comprehension, process writing, grammar, and vocabulary.

With Merit, student progress is automatically tracked in an easy-to-use-tool for students and instructors. Results can be viewed on line and discussed in real time. Built-in tips and hints support students while they work.

Learn more about Merit Software

High-School-Students

Are K-12 Students Hurt by Computers in Schools?

The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) found in a recent world wide study that heavy use of computers in K-12 schools does not necessarily improve student results. In fact, the study found that students who spend above-average amounts of time using computers in class perform worse on written and digital reading tests than those who use computers for below-average amounts of time.

Andreas Schleicher, the OECD’s education director, stated: “School systems need to find more effective ways to integrate technology into teaching and learning to provide educators with learning environments that support 21st century pedagogies and provide children with the 21st century skills they need to succeed in tomorrow’s world. Technology is the only way to dramatically expand access to knowledge.”

Among the chief complaints in the OECD report is that students tend to get “lost” online when completing reading and writing assignments.

This is where Merit comes in.

Merit reading and writing programs control the navigation experience. In Merit writing programs, for example, students are guided step-by-step while they work. Progress at various stages of development is automatically tracked in an easy-to-use tool for students and instructors.

Read the OECD report: Students, Computers and Learning: Making the Connection

Merit’s Writing Programs with free trial links:

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.

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