Tuesday, January 19, 2010

MathScore

imageMathScore is an online math program developed by MIT graduates with the aim of improving test scores. The skills that are taught and drilled include second grade through Algebra 1. MathScore can be used as a complete curriculum, but is probably more useful as a supplement.

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Pros

- The list of topics covered is quite comprehensive—57 topics for fourth grade, including such topics as mean, median and mode, bar graphs, function tables, and time conversion.

-The child or parent has the ability to skip around among topics, making the program ideal for reinforcing another curriculum.

-The program self-adjusts the level as the child masters or struggles with topics.

-I love the “report” feature. Every day a progress report is emailed to the parent which documents not only topics attempted and mastered, but “on task” time and “idle” time.  On several occasions, I was able to show Emily the report of 15 minutes or more of idle time. If you have a distractible child, this is very helpful!

Cons

- The drills have the look and feel of worksheets. The “fun factor” is low. (Still, Emily didn’t complain—I think just having the work on the computer was motivational.)

-It took forever for a topic to be mastered. Emily spent hours on basic addition facts (which she knows). It appears that an occasional error or typo will keep the child from being able to ever complete a section. Finally I just told her to move on to another topic.

Emily’s Comments:

“It is fun because it is timed. It’s like you are racing. It’s fun to try to beat the time.”

“It teaches you things you haven’t studied yet.”

Conclusion

One thing I have discovered this year as we have tried out several computer-based math programs is that Emily’s accuracy greatly increases when she has instant feedback. When doing written work, she is careless, but MathScore and other programs we have tried are significantly reducing careless errors.

We will continue to use MathScore for a while, probably not every day, but I think it will be useful for reinforcing our regular curriculum (and I won’t have to grade the additional work!)

A subscription to MathScore sells for $14.95 per month for the first child. The price drops to $9.95 per month with a 9 month commitment. Prices for additional children are also discounted significantly. One nice additional feature of a MathScore subscription is the ability to put it on “hold” for a vacation period.

I received a free trial subscription from MathScore in exchange for my honest review.

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