April 23, 2018

A+ Interactive Math: A Program that Identifies and Closes Learning Gaps in Math {Product Review}

A+ Interactive Math~ A Review
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Math is one of the only subjects where I wouldn't mind if the boys had assessments every year for homeschool. Why? Because it would be nice to know how each year how they are doing in their respective grade level work based on a third party review. When I first learned about A+ Interactive Math (by A+ TutorSoft Inc.) and their Adaptive Math Curriculum Online and Individualized Lesson Plan program, I was very interested and eagerly asked to review this product. I used it with my oldest son at the time at the end of his third grade year--and it was very revealing to how he was doing in math based on a standard third grade math assessment. Now here we are again with a chance to review the same product--THIS time I am using it with my younger math loving child. We've been using three different math curriculum because he just loves math--but I'm always afraid that he's got a hole somewhere that I don't know about. Thus, having HIM work through the 2nd grade math assessment was just what I needed as we wrap up our 2017-2018 year! Would the test find any holes? This is what I hoped our review of this product would find--and I was curious to see if any of my cons from the previous review had been addressed.

About A+ Interactive Math

Adaptive Math Curriculum Online 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 assessment which will test their knowledge at different levels of each major math concept within a designated grade level 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--but easy to read reports to keep tract of their progress!

This program is comprehensive program available for up to 10 students in your household--and it can be purchased with a monthly, quarterly, or yearly option. Simply set up each child and designate what grade you want them assessed at. Because this program is online, it works with any computer system with high speed internet. You can also TRY 1 MONTH FOR FREE!

Our Thoughts on the Program

As I logged into the program after activating my subscription, the first thing I noticed was that it was IDENTICAL in set up to how it was the previous time I used it. (you can visit my previous review for more details on the website design itself). I clicked on my subscription link, then manage students, and set up a new student. I gave him a username/password, and then picked a grade level (2nd) for him to be assessed for. From here I simply have my son log-in and click the link for the program, and then word "launch". At this point a pop-up window comes up with a student dashboard.
To get started with the whole program, you click the "Take Adaptive Placement Test". This button opens the list of placement tests for the student to take within the 2nd grade level. There are thirteen areas of math that your child takes placement exams on within this level. When I we did the third grade assessments, this was the same. I believe it's the same areas of study for the earlier grades. The 5th grade list (I looked ahead) has different areas of math on it, so it does change according to the grade level expectations.

The students are told to click "take test" to begin. You can see that above on one of the areas that my son hasn't taken a test on yet. When you click this, it now opens a preparation for the test with some reminders for your child that are very important...

They can see that the test will be a TIMED test that must be completed within a time limit. They also won't be able to go back to a previous question once they move forward. They are told there may be more than one correct answer, so read carefully. They are also allowed to have paper and pencil to complete the work. Once your child is ready, they can click "start test" to begin and the time allotted for the test begins immediately.

Here is a sample of what the test screen looks like...

You can see that the answers here are multiple choice. I found that the answers were either fill in the answer or multiple choice. Notice at the right side there is the total test time (40 minutes for this test) and the time they have allotted for the question. Each question gets a different amount of time. At the top you can see the choices are "skip question", "save & Next", and "clear answer." I believe you are allowed to skip three questions. To answer, you click your answer and then hit "save & next". You CANNOT hit enter to save your answer. This messes up the test time. You can clear your choice too. There is also NO audio on the test--your child needs to read it themselves, OR have you read the question and answer choices.
We liked to plug the laptop into the TV to make it easier to see the math problems.
As you are going along, if you are getting repeated correct answers, after about 5 you will get a screen that says they are pulling up new questions. This usually is changing the level as the test always start with questions from the grade below what you are testing on. On some, they begin with questions TWO grades below. We have found that there are usually 13-30 questions on any given test depending on the test itself. More often than not, there were about 21 questions. Once your child has completed their assessment, their results screen pops up...

Either pass...

Here you can see that my son passed with flying colors his assessment on money. He loves watching the little man walk towards the goal. You will also see how many you got correct/incorrect. He likes getting the smiley man.

But sometimes you get a fail...
Here you can see that he didn't quite make it. He skipped three questions and got three incorrect. This means he didn't pass this assessment. I am able to view the test which tells what questions he missed, AND what grade level they were. 

At this point, your child has three options:
#1 they can retake the test. You are always able to retake the assessment whenever.
#2 they can take a DIFFERENT assessment. You are not locked into finishing any particular lesson series before taking a new test.
#3 they can start the customized lessons to "fix" the holes in their mastery. This will provide interactive lessons and practice questions. They can also do an online worksheet for additional practice. 

We decided to go ahead and work on the lessons. Now it was obvious that there was really only one part of the geometry assessment that he didn't know. Because of this, I was able to sort through the lesson outline and have him ONLY work on the area he needed help in. Now the program doesn't TELL me what this is, but looking over the assessment, it was easy to find the topic needing to be reviewed.

The lessons are very easy to follow. Here are some examples of what a lesson may look like...
the beginning lesson screen--see the outline of lessons on the left? You can click on any of those.

Sample of the lesson...there is audio to teach it.

Once the lesson is completed, your child can do the interactive Q&A to practice.
Once the Q&A are done after the lesson, your lessons will be marked complete and an award is given...
At this point your child can continue the lessons, do the online worksheet for more practice, or retake the assessment. Once my son completed his lesson and passed his answers, I had him take the worksheet--the worksheets are basically just questions similar to the assessment itself. He passed it. So the next day, we just went back to the assessment for geometry and took it again...he passed it easily. 

Now, as a parent, I don't have to watch everything my student is doing. ALL of this is going to show up on my parent dashboard! Once I log in, I can simply choose which student I want to check in on. Through the dashboard, I can review my student's progress--either a summary report or a progress report. 

This is the current summary report for my son. You can see that he has completed all but two areas within the assessments. You can see that he's easily at the 2nd grade math level. You can also note the one area he has had to take the assessment twice on. If I click "view summary report", I am given whatever his last assessment score was. Clicking on the "Progress Report" on the dashboard, simply shows me the goal bar for each of these--the one of the little man walking...You can print out any of these screens for your records.

Okay--so now let's talk about a few things. First, my main pet peeve is the pop up windows. I wish that the screen would just change within the browser, but instead I usually end up with three popup windows to keep track of. Next, the time allotment for each question on the assessment can really hurt a child who is used to having all the time he/she needs to complete the problems. Thus your child may be getting a bad score simply because they couldn't solve it fast enough! Your child may also miss problems if they are aren't used to having "all of the above" as answers. 

In regards to the test itself, I wish that it would truly be adaptive in that it ONLY gave you the sections your child missed. Instead, it gives you the entire unit--and you have to find the portion your child needs to work on. BUT you can jump around within the lessons AND you can retake the assessment at any time once the portion of the lesson needing to be covered is completed. This is exactly how we used it. 

[You can read in more detail about the lessons themselves on my previous review]

As of right now, we are looking at my son passing all of his assessments with just two remaining. This good to know, because it tells me that he knows the math for the 2nd grade level. In fact, if you look at results bar, you can see that he usually far surpasses the goal for 2nd grade--which tells me that he may even be well into third grade work.
Unfortunately, I would have to have him repeat this whole process setting him up on the third grade assessment to know for sure. Now, because there is now an option to have this program for a year, it would be absolutely doable to have him retake all the assessments at the third grade level this same time NEXT year to see! 

Why this program works for us--
#1 my son loves math. Thus no matter what kind of math or style of math it is, he enjoys it. The timed portion didn't really throw him off at all, because he is quick at math. 
#2 the lesson itself was interactive and he could work on it independently. The program praised him for correct work, and encouraged him to try again when he made mistakes. I didn't have to be the teacher, yet was still able to observe the results. 
#3 it is short and sweet. None of the lessons are very long. The Q&A section isn't very long. The lessons are all audio, so he doesn't have to worry about not being able to read the lessons or questions. 
#4 the assessment really does help me see if he is where he would be expected to be in any other type of school. 
#5 I can print off the test, awards, assessment lists, progress reports, or worksheets for my records if I need them. This was a great asset for putting together my week 27 progress report. I simply printed off his last summary report.

Anything I would change?
Really, it's just the popups that are the most annoying. I can deal with everything else! :)

Want to Know More About A+ Interactive Math?

For the last several weeks we have been reviewing the Adaptive Math Curriculum Online and Individualized Lesson Plan program from A+ Interactive Math (by A+ TutorSoft Inc.). You have seen how we used it and our thoughts on it--but please make sure you visit other crew members! Several of them reviewed the same program, but some also reviewed the Family Math Package--"comprehensive course contents with video lessons, interactive review, practice worksheets, chapter tests, automatic grading and tracking and much more for all grade levels."
Family & Adaptive Math Online {A+ Interactive Math Reviews}
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Because we are reviewing this program for a year AND because I can add up to ten students on it, it will be nice to have for progress reports for BOTH boys at the end of the first semester next year to log their progress. I have found this program to just be a very easy to use program to allow you insight into your child's math mastery! I encourage you to check out A+ Interactive Math (by A+ TutorSoft Inc.) for your own family!

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