Sunday, January 31, 2010
One area that I try to have a lot of tools on hand is math. Books, software, games, topic workbooks, online tools - these are all items I keep on hand for when one of my children either needs a little more practice or explanation on a certain math topic.
This year with the TOS Crew has provided many math products to review and add to my toolbox, the latest being MathScore by Accurate Learning. Mathscore is an online subscription developed by MIT graduates and founded by Steven Yang. It is a no-nonsense program that is geared toward material a levels 2nd grade through Algebra 1. Using a mastery approach, Mathscore is proven to raise math test scores.
Students can start off with an assessment to identify a student's strengths and weaknesses. It is recommended that the assessments be used only with kids 4th grade and up. Once the assessment is complete, the program will suggest topics for the student. The goal is to work toward a 100 in a topic and more on the the next. Incentives and ranking are built in to the program to encourage students to work toward moving to the next level.
Each topic has various levels of difficulty with associated rating and points. A very nice feature is that MathScore has adaptable difficulty based on the performance of the student. Once mastery at a level is shown, the student moves on to the next. A time limit to complete online worksheets is given for each level. Students can work on any topic they like and are not locked out of certain topics as with other programs, though it is highly suggested that students first build up speed with typing (answer entry) and basic skills. For each topic and level, a mini-lesson, sample problems, and timed worksheets are available. The number of topics varies (20-92) for each grade level.
The get a better idea how the program works, you can view an introduction video and demo at the website.
What I really appreciate about this program is the tracking and information it provides to parents. A fairly detailed report is emailed to parents, including information such as: topics worked, rating, points, accuracy, %, # of worksheets completed, worksheet time and engaged time. My favorite bit of information provided, given I have one child that distracts fairly easily, is the a measurement of long gaps of idle time. After I let my son know that this information was provided to me, I got that deer-in-headlights look that told me he was going to do his best to stay on task. The parent account of the website gives access to other information regarding the student's time spent using the program, as well as access to all levels of worksheets.
I didn't find the program as flashy as others we've experienced, though that is not necessarily a bad thing. The ability to move up levels, earn points, and unlock 14 trophies is the primary motivation for students. There aren't games or many bells and whistles. This made the program less appealing to my kids, but it doesn't mean the program isn't effective. In other words, they weren't begging to work on MathScore, but when it showed up on their assignment sheet they put their work in with little trouble. My son did have some issue that the worksheets are timed, especially as he moved up in difficulty, but slow work is an area that I'd like to see improvement with both of my kids.
There are several pricing options for a MathScore subscription. The regular monthly rates are as follows:
First student: $14.95
Second student: $5.00
Each Additional student: $3.95
Upon first subscribing, the first two months for the first student is at a reduced rate of $9.95. There are also additional discounts if you opt to pay for a 9-month subscription or pay a lump-some amount. For example, a lump sum payment of $50 actually gives you $60 worth of subscription time on your account (a 20% bonus credit).
MathScore is a program to use for steady practice that documents clear progress. The website states that the average student using MathScore practices more than 10,000 problems a year using the program only one hour a week. That's a significant amount of practice! You can also read several articles of how using MathScore translated to a jump in scores in various test groups at the website. Mathscore's strength is the mastery approach to learning as well as the tracking and activity information provided to the parent. Its potential weakness is that is isn't as entertaining to the student. If a student regularly works with the program, the steady and easily measurable progress may be motivating enough, removing the need for a flashy program. If you are looking for a resource that allows your student to work independently with math learning and practice, you may want to look into MathScore further.
There is a free 2-week trial of MathScore available for you to try before you buy. The program is easy to get started and use and you should be able to give it a good enough workout during the trial period to determine if it will be a fit for your student. For more information, demos and articles on MathScore, visit the MathScore website.
Visit the TOS Homeschool Crew's blog to read more reviews on this product and others.
Disclaimer: This review was provided as a result in my participation in The Old Schoolhouse Magazine Crew, a team of 100+ homeschooling parents. While the product was provided at no expense to me in order to provide this review, I have not received any other compensation. Furthermore, receipt of the product does not guarantee a positive review. I strive to give a balanced overview of each product, detailing my opinion of both pros and cons and how the product worked for my family. What works for one family may not work for another. I encourage you to read reviews of other Crew members and research sufficiently to determine if any product will be a benefit to your homeschool.