Simple Truths about the Common Core

AA053438The transition to the Common Core has been controversial and poorly handled, particularly when it comes to teacher evaluations and new standardized tests.

However, the harsh reality is that reading scores in the U.S. have not improved in 20 years.

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College Readiness Concerns

College Readiness ConcernsConcerns about the ability of today’s  U.S. high school graduates to fill skilled jobs and compete in the global marketplace have been raised again due to the 2013 results on the country’s most widely used college entrance exams.

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Helping Students in Low-Performing High Schools Transition to College

GraduatesExperts and educators say the transition to college can be difficult for first-generation collegians and students from struggling inner-city schools, according to a recent Washington Post article.

The transition to college was difficult said one D.C. graduate because she didn’t have to write very much in high school. The student, who was her class valedictorian, explains: “I didn’t really research anything.”

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College, Reinvented

iStock_000014379691XSmallU.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.rnrnThe 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.rnrnCurrent 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.

Common Core Practice Update – October 26, 2012

iStock_000018980120SmallWith 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.

New Report: High School Graduates are Falling Short, Need Help

60 percent of recent U.S. High School graduates are at-risk of failing in their college and career endeavors according to new research by ACT, Inc.

“The best way to help students prepare for successful futures is by monitoring their achievement, academic behaviors and goals starting early in their academic careers and providing appropriate help whenever we find they are not on track for success,” says ACT Chief Executive Officer, Jon Whitmore.

Merit Software programs are developed with these features in mind.

Merit programs cover a wide range of academic skills and track students’ progress while they work. The programs provide context clues and built-in supports. Students automatically receive help when they encounter troublesome concepts.

{read the complete article from Reuters}

Should Computers Grade Writing?

Schoolgirl in high school classAn evaluation of eight computerized essay scoring programs shows some promise when compared to scoring by humans. Does this mean computers should be used to grade writing?

The new U.S. Common Core Standards for English Language Arts, which incorporate writing across the curriculum as a central factor, have increased the urgency in this question. Thousands of educators are now wondering how they can handle this task efficiently.

The evaluation indicates scoring programs may be helpful in some circumstances. However, none of the computerized programs can evaluate student knowledge in a text.

Merit Software’s writing programs have taken a different approach. Merit uses the power of computing to:

  • help students brainstorm their ideas
  • provide editing suggestions
  • enable discussions and collaborations

Merit’s writing programs are easily adaptable to most U.S. upper elementary, middle schools, and high school curricula. Free online training helps ensure success.

Artificial intelligence experts say that, eventually, scoring programs will be able to determine real knowledge in a text. Until that day occurs, smart educators are choosing to work with Merit Software.

Further Reading: Machines Shouldn’t Grade Student Writing – Yet