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Will Common Standards Improve U.S. Schools?

Twenty-six states have now adopted the Common Core standards in English language arts and math developed by the National Governors Association and the Council of Chief State School Officers, and all but two states have expressed interest in following suit.

Are Common Core standards an effective tool to reform U.S. public schools?

The new standards have a strong possibility to help improve overall student performance. The standards shift the focus from learning grade-by-grade rules and the practice of “teaching to the test” to standards that are aligned with college and workplace expectations.

The most apparent shifts in the new standards come in English language arts. There is more emphasis on analyzing and writing throughout the curriculum. The standards call for students to read texts of increasing difficulty and to learn to clearly synthesize information from them and to communicate their ideas and understanding.

Research conducted on students using Merit Software in schools demonstrates the importance of incorporating writing into the curriculum. Most notably the evidence showed that improving reading, grammar and writing skills of secondary level students was correlated with gains in social studies and science test scores.

This research supports the conclusions of the writers of the Common Core standards and their emphasis on writing and language arts literacy.

Merit’s newest products are engaging, easy-to-use tools that help teachers implement writing and language arts exercises in online versions. These editions of Grammar Fitness, Paragraph and Essay Punch help a wide range of students improve and develop language arts literacy skills.

Instructors will benefit from materials and training to help them provide differentiated, personalized, instruction in the Common Core standards skills and content areas.

While the standards allow room for teachers to reach the goals in the context of their own teaching style, what materials do think would help you with your students?