Being a homeschool mom in a state that doesn't require testing gives me a lot of leeway, but it also leaves me not quite knowing exactly where my children stand. So when we had the opportunity to try A+ Interactive Math's new Adaptive Placement Test and Individualized Lesson Plan, I was very excited!
The Adaptive Placement Test is actually a series of mini-tests which test your child on various skills. For example, at the fourth grade level, tests include basic operations, elementary algebra and geometry, word problems, and time and money skills. Once your child has completed all of the tests, you get a report on how well he has mastered each of the skills.
Then the Individualized Lesson Plan kicks in. For each of the skills that were not mastered successfully, your child gets instruction through a series of short 'classes' on the computer. After completing the courses, he can re-take the tests and you will get a report of how well the material is now being mastered. There is no limit to how many times he can watch the classes, or take the tests, in the three months of your membership.
The program appears to be designed as a sort of 'online summer school' for students struggling with math. Three months is approximately the length of summer break, and the individualized instruction would help the student to catch up and be on track with his peers upon returning to school in the fall.
While the placement test and instruction seem fabulous in theory, our experience was less than ideal. Neither of the children were able to complete the testing, because the tests kept shutting down on them midway through...automatically failing them. Several of the tests were re-taken four, five, six times and still never completed. You can imagine how frustrating and potentially-damaging it is to be failed over and over again when you're not given the chance to actually complete a task.
Another issue we had with the testing was with our younger son, who is not a strong reader. He got every question wrong in a section that he should have mastered - so I went back with him on the retest and read the questions aloud, and he got 90% correct. Just like modifications in school testing, you may need to help your student with the reading part.
We finally just skipped the testing and I started them on the lesson plans in areas that they needed extra help. Each of the skills is broken down into smaller steps, which is very nice. They are easily digested without being overwhelming. It appears that different grades have different instructors - some of them are easily understandable, while others are heavily accented. As fate would have it, my son with hearing disabilities landed one that was heavily accented. He had some trouble with that.
Overall, I love the idea behind this program, and I'm sure that it's a wonderful thing - if you can get it to work. Six weeks in, we were still having issues with the program, and I couldn't help but wish that there was a printed version of the test that I could give the children. The lessons themselves played with no problems, but since it's supposed to be an individualized plan based on the test results, we didn't really 'fully' experience how the program works.
- The placement test alone is free. If you want the individualized instruction, you will need a membership.
- You can change levels for your student. ie - If he passes everything at the fourth grade level with flying colors, you can test him at the fifth grade level.
- The mini-tests do not take very long and do not have to be completed all at once. Also, given the nature of the test, it is much easier to see what material has been mastered and what has not.
- Tests range from first grade to algebra.
- The Individualized Lesson Plan specifically targets areas where the student needs more attention.
- It can be used with students regardless of what curriculum you are using at home. **I would argue this point, only from a terminology point of view. We noticed a few things that they used different terms for than our regular curriculum does.**
- Computer-based program leaves room for technical glitches.
- Terminology differences occasionally make problems difficult for student to understand.
- Younger students need help with reading questions.
- Accent of teacher in instructional lessons is occasionally difficult to interpret.