May 5, 2015

Identify and Close Learning Gaps in Math with A+ Interactive Math {Product Review}

Math is one of the only subjects where I wouldn't mind if Little Britches had required assessments every year for homeschool. Why? Because it would be nice to know how he's doing in his grade level work based on a third party review. When I learned about A+ Interactive Math and their Adaptive Placement Test and Individualized Lesson Plan program, I was very interested and eagerly asked to review this product. I hoped that it would be the assessment program I was looking for!
A+ Interactive Math Product Review

Product Information

Adaptive Math Placement Test w/ Lesson Plan Adaptive Placement Test and Individualized Lesson Plan was designed by A+ Interactive Math for the parent/teacher who was concerned that their student might have gaps in their math skills. With this program, your child can take a short mini assessment which will test their knowledge at different levels of each major math concept to determine their current skill level. If the child is not quite up to their appropriate grade level in skill, the program designs an individualized lesson plan for filling the gaps in your child's knowledge. 

The lesson plan provides everything you need to get your student caught up! The student then simply follows their lesson plan as it teaches them and allows them practice via interactive Q and A as well as worksheets to master the skills. All this is done while you the parent receive reports on their progress and mastery! This means--no grading for you!

This program is a 3 month comprehensive program available for up to 10 students in your household!

Because this program is online, it works with any computer system with high speed internet. 

We reviewed the Adaptive Placement Test and Individualized Lesson Plan with Little Britches testing 3rd grade math skills.

How Did We Use This Product?

I started by setting up an account using the information that was emailed to me. I set myself up a parent profile and determined all my log-in information.  Then I went to the website and logged in via Homeschool Online Log in. I logged myself in and set up Little Britches under Manage Students
Once this was done, I clicked the big red box "How to Get Started" and read the walk-through about what happens next. This was so helpful in me getting started. As I read it, I learned that that once my student is set up, there is nothing for me to do until he logs-in and does his part.

So the next thing we did was log in Little Britches. When he logged it in, it pulls up a a dashboard...


He decided to jump in and get started, so he just clicked "launch". Which takes him to another window where he clicks "launch" again. Which takes him officially to his new dashboard.

To get started, he just clicks the "Take Adaptive Placement Test". (He decided to skip the getting started unless he gets stuck.) This takes him to the list of "placement" exams. There are 14 concepts that are tested for his grade level.
This photo shows what it looks like now when he is ready to take a test. It shows what has already been done, what is needing work, and what is available for testing.
Because I didn't see any reason to go in order, I advised him that he could just pick whichever one he wanted to start with. He picked Geometry. When this window opens it advises the student of a few important things:

#1 It is a timed test. He needs to complete it within the allotted amount of time.
#2 He cannot go back and change a previous answer, so he needs to make sure he double checks before he clicks save.

Little Britches freaked out when he heard that it was a timed test. He's never had one before and started worrying about whether he'd finish in time. I just told him that he needed to focus on reading carefully and doing his best. And to remember that he is able to retake the test if he needs to. That I didn't care how many times he needed to retake it. This calmed him down enough that he didn't even worry about the test.

Because this was the first time we had done this program, I sat by him to see what the test was. I read each question for him to make sure he read them clearly. Then if he needed me to, I re-read an answer choice for him. He had a pencil and paper at the ready and used it for two questions. We both noticed there is the option to skip any questions that aren't known. I advised him to always take his best guess using our process of elimination trick we've practice when doing multiple choice tests. He agreed and always tried, even on the ones he didn't quite know for sure.

The first test was 12 questions. Here is the layout of the test (though this one is on money) so you can get an idea of what it looks like:
If you run out of time on your question, it will go right to a new one.
Once he had completed them all answered, his results popped up on the screen...


He liked the smiley face that told him he had successfully passed and that there was no further action needed. That he was at the 3rd grade level for this area. He missed 3 of the 12 questions...(mostly related to lines and rays). He breathed a LOT easier once he read this and decided it wasn't so bad.
Now that he's finished this, his results are noted on the list of concepts:

Now that he's completed this one, his results show up in my dashboard. So I went on a quest to see them. I logged into my account and clicked on the placement test link. This brought me the following page: 

I knew that he had been successful, so I clicked "view student reports". I noted that I could view any lesson plans he is working on from this page as well.
Because he's only done one thing so far, I just clicked "summary report". I pulls up the list of 14 math areas, and then I can click the option to see the summary report for each area.
This is identical to what Little Britches saw when he had finished his test. 

The next day, he picked a different subject area to test...estimation/rounding. He wasn't as good on this one. But I didn't need him to tell me because it showed up on my reports!
This report shows me how he did, and advises that he's currently at a 2nd grade level in this area. It also tells me that a lesson plan has been created for him to complete.

Now when he logs in, instead of clicking the option to take a test, he clicks the option to "View My Lesson plan". This takes him directly to the lesson plan that he has waiting for him that has been created based on his results of the placement test. It is an interactive lesson and Q&A program. 

Here is what the screen looks like--though this one is for his current lesson plan on measurement:
The table of contents show all the areas that will be covered in the lesson plan--he simply has to click on whatever one he wants to start with. Because I find that it was a good review, I have had him complete the entire lesson plan--however, if you know your child only needs to work on a specific area--say "volume" for this one--you could isolate the lesson by having them just click on that lesson. The lessons are short, use colorful characters, easy to read font and a pleasant voice for the teaching. They are easy to follow along and Little Britches RARELY had to ask me for assistance. 
Working through a lesson on non-standard measurement
Once the lesson is completed, the child works through interactive Q&A to test their application of what was just covered. It provides immediate results and even shows how the answer is achieved if your child missed it.

When your child completes each portion of the lesson, they can earn a certificate to show their completion of it. I don't print these out because he'd have so many of them from all this lessons. LOL. But if you wanted documentation, this would work.

At any time, your child can go back to the assessment testing and make another attempt on the subject area. When your child passes, it marks it as complete, and that the skill has been brought up to grade level.
You can see that Little Britches had to take the Geometry and Rounding/Estimating assessments again--he passed the second attempt after completing the lesson. Once he's completed his current lesson on Measurement, he will retake that test as well.
It is interesting to note, that you do NOT have to complete a lesson BEFORE taking a different assessment. All the lessons will be saved so you can go through them at your leisure. Little Britches likes this option, though he hasn't used it yet.

Once the lessons are completed, there is also the option (though we have not used it yet) of completing worksheets for each subject area needing extra work. 

This is the worksheet page for Measurement. There is a worksheet to go with every section of the lesson plan, so it would be easy to get in focused practice and mastery on areas that are below grade level. Simply click on the name of the worksheet to begin. It is very similar to the test, except allows you to check your work. Once a worksheet is completed, it shows up on the worksheet page.
You can see that I did the first worksheet-it marks the date it was completed and my score.
I think this is a great system for that focused skill attention. I know there are usually just one or two areas that need extra help within the subject areas for Little Britches. If he wasn't able to retake a test and pass it after doing the lessons, I would definitely pull out the worksheets. But so far, he's passing his tests after the lesson work.

So how much did we do a week? 
It depended on whether or not he passed his assessment. If he passed, then he simply did another assessment the next day. And continued that process until he didn't pass. If he didn't pass, then the following day he begins his lessons. He completes 1-3 lessons (as in the lessons within each lesson plan) depending on how long they are. He's averaging about 2 per day. If it's a short plan with just a few areas, it is easy to complete in a week--at which point he then retakes the test. But if it's a longer lesson plan (like measurement is), it may take 2 weeks before the test is retaken.

As of this week, he has completed 5 skill sets--of which he had to work through two complete lesson plans. He is currently working on the lesson plan for the 6th skill set he's tested on--measurement. 

I can monitor his progress when clicking progress report in either his or my parent account...it's really cute as it has little men walking across the progress line and stopping wherever your child is on the grade level goal line:
You can see how the man "moved" on the Rounding/Estimating once he retook his test. The "Goal" is third grade level skill--so some of these he has easily passed it.
Little Britches likes watching his men walk across the line and thinks it's great to see it when his man goes along further after he's successfully retaken a test.

What Are Our Thoughts on This Product?

Little Britches:
"Well, it's not easy, but it's short. And I like that it's got short lessons and they are easy to understand AND I do better when I go back to take the test again." 

Me:
There are so many pros that I could say about this program, so I'll try to touch on the most important ones...

Pros:
*Completely Online
This is important because it means that it is less for me to keep track of and less books to own. I like that I can simply log in to see the results of his work, and I can print them if I desire. 

*It's Independent
When Little Britches logs in, he KNOWS what to do without me telling him. He can take a test, re-take a test, or work through a lesson. I don't have to sit over his shoulder--though I do help him with reading questions if needed.

*Lots of Reports
I love that I can sign in and see his progress at any stage. I can view how many tests he's taken, how many he's passed, how many attempts it took, how he did on the tests, how he's doing on his lesson plan, how his worksheets are going. I can see it all. The "little men" progress report though is my favorite.

*It Works
Each time that Little Britches had to work through a lesson plan, he learned what was needed and blew his previous results out the window and always was brought up to grade level when completed. His comprehension was definitely there and the skills were definitely learned.

Cons--just a few!
*It's only for 3 months. 
If your child doesn't fail too many of the assessments, it is easy to finish this program in 3 months. But if your child fails the assessments and need to use the lesson plans, it can take up to a week--just to complete a lesson plan. Sometimes it takes longer! If your child needs caught up in SEVERAL areas, you will easily pass your 3 months for the program. I think the key is that this is meant to be a REVIEW not to be used for the actual curriculum teaching. I wish that it went for a little bit longer--even allowing 1 week for each subject area on the assessment list.

*Individualized...but...
The lesson plan is individualized in some ways--BUT I wish that the lesson plans ONLY were focused on the skills that need work--NOT the ones that were correct on the assessment. For instance, if the child answered all the questions relating to temperature correctly on the measurement assessment, then there shouldn't be any temperature lessons included in the lesson review for measurement. This way it is much more focused on the things that need more work...AND makes sure that you don't spend all your time on just one subject area in your limited 3 months of use.

*Pop Up Windows...LOL
When Little Britches logs in, it goes from one window to another to get him to where he wants to be. I wish that the initial launch took you to the actual dashboard--not ANOTHER launch window. It's more of a minor thing, but still something that would be nice. 

*Cannot stop taking a test without a penalization
When Little Britches started his assessment on money, he had to stop it right away to go do something else. He hadn't even answered the first question yet--but the program penalized him and said that he didn't know it and he was going to have to completely retake the test AND set him up with a lesson plan. I wish that you could CLOSE a test and then be able to open it up and RESTART where you left off. This would make it a lot easier for those times when you CAN'T finish a test for whatever the reason.

Do I plan on continuing to use this product now that our review is done?
Absolutely. It is VERY useful--especially at this stage in the game where we are nearing the end of our third grade work. It is isolating areas where I know we need to spend more time working on for mastery, and though this is only for 3 months, I can get an idea on where to direct his attention for math for the conclusion of this year.

I also like that he doesn't mind doing it and can operate on it independently. This is good for us both. He excels at math when I'm taken out of the picture for the most part. LOL!

Would I Recommend This Product?

Yes! I especially recommend it if you live in a state like me, where testing is not obligatory for homeschool. It is good to know how your child is doing in subjects--especially math. The program evaluates from 1st Grade to Pre-Algebra (7th grade). It is very easy to use and it truly does show you where the gaps are and gives you the tools you need to FIX those gaps.

I would ALSO recommend it to any parent who is wondering if their child is successful in their math studies at ANY school--public and private too! I think this would be a great tutoring resource to have to bring your child up to snuff. A 3 month subscription would work perfect for helping them over the summer!

But wait--what if you don't need or want the lesson plans and just want to know how they are doing? You can still just purchase the placement assessments by themselves! Want to test drive that placement test? You can take a FREE placement test to see how it works!

And don't forget that right now (as of 5/5/2015) the Adaptive Placement Test and Individualized Lesson Plan is on SALE for 40% off!! But only for a limited time--so don't wait!

Want to Know More About This Product?

We reviewed the Adaptive Placement Test and Individualized Lesson Plan from A+ Interactive Math. You have seen our thoughts on this great program, but how did other families use it? And what about their Family Math Package they also offer? Make sure you check out all the reviews from my fellow crew members!

A+ Interactive Math Review
You can also stay in touch with A+ Interactive Math on these social media outlets:
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/APlusTutorSoft
Twitter: https://twitter.com/aplustutorsoft
Pinterest: http://www.pinterest.com/aplustutorsoft/

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I was VERY pleased to learn this WAS just what I was looking for in an assessment for Little Britches and his math. I will enjoy continuing to use our 3 month subscription and I plan on using this later on as we continue in homeschool. 
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