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.”


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



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.

Greatest challenges teachers face for helping at-risk students

AA053438Recently, we conducted an informal survey about the greatest challenges teachers face for helping at-risk students. Their responses seemed to break out into various categories, which we present here.

What do you think of these comments? And, what ideas of your own would you like to share? Leave your thoughts in the comments section below.

The following are categories we identified:


Support and materials that are relevant to at-risk students” are cited by a professor in British Columbia, Canada.

An elementary school reading specialist in North Dakota stresses “The greatest challenge that I currently have in helping at-risk students is not having the resources available to differentiate my instruction to meet the individual needs of each student.


A teacher at an international school in Rome, Italy, mentions “Meeting their learning needs and helping them feel successful at the same time.

A teacher at the Department of Education, Puerto Rico, cites the importance of “Helping students lose the fear of participating in class.

An administrator in New South Wales, Australia, stresses the importance of “Improved recognition and support at school of at-risk students.

Issues Outside of School

A lead teacher in Texas cites the challenge of creating and sustaining “Parent involvement.

An Indiana teacher cites “Lack of family support and poor background knowledge.

A Mississippi director mentions “Attendance and challenges at home.


An educator in Western Australia stresses the importance of “Assessing their needs correctly and using appropriate strategies to help them.

Communication and teaching methodology

An exceptional needs teacher in North Carolina mentions “Making it interesting and relevant to their world.

A Wisconsin educator cites the importance of “Establishing mutual trust.

A special education teacher in Indiana stresses “Keeping them focused and excited about learning.

A technology contact in West Virginia presents the challenge of “Differentiating the instruction to allow them to express themselves on a level that is appropriate to the grade level while utilizing their unique skills.

A classroom teacher in Florida cites the challenge of “Presenting the material in such a way that they can grasp and retain it.