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F.A.Q.

How Can Math Academy be Used?

Do I have to progress through the courses at an accelerated pace?

The courses are completely self-paced. The daily XP goal and expected work days per week can be adjusted for each student according to needs, expectations, and schedules. However, to ensure positive results we strongly recommend reasonable and regular practice of 20 to 40 XP per day, 3 to 5 days per week.

Are your courses just for gifted students?

Not at all! We have students from all across the ability range. While you may learn at a very rapid pace if you choose to, our courses are for any student of any age and any skill level interested in learning math. Our adaptive diagnostic assessment will identify the correct starting place for the student, wherever that is, and that’s where they’ll begin. Learning, for us, is about making efficient, effective and continuous forward progress. Not speed. Our system is completely individualized and will adapt to the student’s pace.

As an online, self-paced program, it does require some amount of self-regulation or motivation. Our courses are comprehensive and will require diligence and regular effort. And while we scaffold our lessons so as to make them as accessible and gentle as possible, be prepared to put in the work!

Are your courses harder than my student’s class in school?

Possibly. Our courses cover the Common Core State Standards, as is required by public schools, however, because our system is able to adapt to each student’s individual strengths and weaknesses, we have the time to cover all the standards thoroughly, from the basic, introductory skills, to the most challenging. In general, you will find that our courses go above and beyond your school’s curriculum.

Can my student use this as a replacement for their regular math class?

Our course curriculum is comprehensive and is ideal for a homeschool environment. However, this is also a great option for students who are beyond the level of their peers and lack a viable alternative at their current enrolled school. Our courses meet state standards as well as common core standards.

Is Math Academy accredited?

Yes! Math Academy is accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges, WASC, www.acswasc.org. We can provide families with Certificates of Completion and transcripts with grades to give to their schools. Generally, to take a course for credit, families must make arrangements and get approval from their school in advance of taking a course.

Is Math Academy UC approved?

Not yet. This is an interesting chicken and egg problem. We need two public or private schools in California to provide us with letters of intent saying that they will use Math Academy in their school. But, most schools aren’t willing to use a curriculum that isn’t UC approved. If you are a public or private school in California and is interested in running a small pilot program with Math Academy, please contact sandy@mathacademy.com. We’re friendly, flexible and easy to work with!

How can a student use Math Academy as a supplement to their math class?

We recommend that you set a lower daily XP goal or possibly fewer days of work per week. Regular practice is still important, though, so anything less than 3 days per week would not be recommended. Through the oversight panel, you have the ability to share a student’s progress with a teacher or tutor.

Courses

Where does your curriculum begin? How do I know if my student is ready to start?

Our curriculum begins at the 4th grade level. If the student knows their multiplication facts through the 12’s, then they are ready to begin our 4th grade course.

How do I know which course to register for?

Visit our Courses page, which gives a detailed description for each of our courses and some basic guidelines of what a student should know before beginning a particular course. Then, when you select a course during registration, it is just a starting point for our adaptive diagnostic assessment.

The diagnostic will assess knowledge already gained, identify any weaknesses in foundational knowledge and place the student in the exact right place within the course. We don’t want to waste time with material already mastered or frustrate a student with material that is too difficult.

You will receive a diagnostic report that will make a course recommendation as well. If the recommendation is to move to a prior course, you may choose to stay in the current course, the topics from previous courses will be remediated as the student moves forward with current course material. The diagnostic report will also give you several estimated course completion dates based on example XP daily-pace goals.

What is the difference between traditional and integrated sequences?

The integrated math sequence covers the same topics as a traditional math sequence but they are taught concurrently. With this approach, students are able to apply topics learned in Algebra to Geometry problems, which provides a richer and more comprehensive learning experience. In a traditional sequence, students are taught these courses sequentially, which results in students taking a year off from Algebra for a Geometry course (the sequence is Algebra I, Geometry, Algebra II) which is extremely inefficient due to the inevitable backsliding. We’ve found the integrated course sequence to be a more efficient and enjoyable way for students to progress through the material.

Do you have courses for adults?

Yes! We have developed our Foundations Series specifically for adult students. It is a streamlined series that begins with fractions and will take you through Calculus. If you work for a little less than an hour a day, 5 days per week, you can be ready for any of our upper level University courses in a year!

We also have University level courses including Calculus I and II, Linear Algebra, Multivariable Calculus, Probability and Statistics, and Math for Machine Learning. Courses to be released shortly will be Differential Equations, Methods of Proof, Discrete Math, Real Analysis, and Abstract Algebra.

What is the difference between the Mathematical Foundations sequence and high school sequences?

The Mathematical Foundations (MF) sequence is designed to help adults build the necessary tools that are essential for university-level study. Successful completion of the MF sequence will mean that all of the university-level courses that we have (finished and planned) are within reach, although there is a hierarchy to those, too.

The MF sequence contains "roughly" 2/3 of the topics from our high-school sequence (Integrated Math I - Integrated Math III, and AP Calculus BC), plus some middle-school sequence (4th-Grade, 5th-Grade, and Prealgebra) topics that we felt were essential, such as fractions, ratios, arithmetic, algebra basics, and geometry.

So, in short, the MF sequence gives the students an accelerated path through all of the essential high-school material.

An adult student that has forgotten everything beyond multiplication tables could start with the MF1 course, which get them to university-level courses by the time they're done with MF3. This includes all of the single-variable calculus you'd be expected to know before starting a STEM degree at a selective university.

How Does the System Work?

What is the difference between fluency and automaticity?

Fluency, when referring to math skills, generally means that a skill has been memorized, such as a student knowing their multiplication facts. Automaticity is one step beyond that, meaning, the skill has been stored into long term memory and can be recalled instantly- without thinking about it.

The reason this is important is once a student moves on to more complex skills that require problem solving, the original skill won’t take up brain processing power that will be needed in order to solve the problem.

Math Academy’s learning philosophy first builds automaticity and then moves on to complex, problem solving skills. This is one reason why we have timed diagnostic assessments and quizzes. We are measuring not just a right or wrong answer, but the student’s level of automaticity.

What makes the system so efficient? How are students able to learn multiple years of math in one year without spending an inordinate amount of time in the process?

Our algorithms adapt to each student’s strengths and weaknesses. It leverages the information defined by our extensive knowledge graph of mathematical concepts. This information allows for the system to kill multiple birds with one stone. For instance, the algorithms can detect when it can be more efficient to introduce a new topic that would allow the student to make forward progress while effectively reviewing fully encompassed prerequisite skills. The system is completely individualized and focuses on exactly what students need at the precise time they need it.

Your system is 4x more efficient than a traditional math class? How do you back that up?

We measure our course length in terms of XP and one XP is approximately one minute of focused effort, give or take, depending on the individual student. We model our average student on a serious, but imperfect student who works an average of 40 XP per day.

Using the AP Calculus BC Course as a comparison, a typical student in school will have a 50 minute class five days per week plus about an hour of homework per night. Add in some extra for studying for tests, midterms and finals along the way, and then preparing for the AP exam itself. In a typical 32 week school year, that is :

(50 minutes class + 60 minutes homework average per day) (five days) (32 weeks) = 17,600 minutes. Add in a couple extra hours for each test and quiz throughout each semester and then at least 30-40 hours for practice exams and studying for the AP exam, if you want to get a 5. That will put you in the ballpark of our calculation of 24,000 minutes.

The Math Academy AP Calculus BC Course is approximately 6000 XP and already includes quizzes, reviews, and Test Prep Mode.

Note: After completing our BC course, it will be important to sit through several practice exams to familiarize yourself with the format and pacing of the actual exams. In particular, how to capture as many points as possible on the free response sections of the exam.

How does XP work?

XP, or eXperience Points, is a common way of measuring progress in the gaming world. One XP represents, on average, about one minute of focused effort on the system. Of course, every student is different and some move faster or slower than others. XP is awarded for correct answers. And students get full XP for a lesson if they get most of the answers correct. They get partial credit for the lesson if they get some of the answers correct.

Just like a human tutor, if the system detects that the student is struggling to comprehend a new concept, they will eventually cut the lesson short and save it for another time. The student will not get any XP for this lesson. We have found that the second time a student attempts that lesson, they almost always earn full XP. On rare occasions, the system will detect that the student is rushing and guessing and will assign negative XP for that behavior. Learning math requires diligent effort and the system teaches students not only math skills but enforces good math habits.

What happens to a student’s XP progress if we go on vacation? Can accounts be paused?

The oversight account allows parents, teachers or tutors to adjust the XP requirements based on their own personal calendar and can be set for vacations and breaks. The student never loses their XP. Subscriptions may also be paused for up to three months for vacations, summer breaks or activity schedules.

I did a lot worse on my diagnostic than I expected, what’s going on?

Our diagnostic, as is the goal of Math Academy, measures both mastery and automaticity of the material.

There could be several reasons the system identified gaps in foundational knowledge. Our curriculum is comprehensive and covers the complete standard so a student may either not have been taught the full standard or it has been a while since they have seen it and they may be rusty. Sometimes, the student took much longer to answer the question than the system would expect if the student had mastered the skill and “knows it cold.” In this case, then the system will refresh the material so the student is completely ready for the next step.

A student may choose to stay in their preferred course and the system will review any prerequisite material necessary as they go along to fill in those gaps or refresh their memory in order to be successful. Or, and this may be better for younger students, they may choose to change courses according to the diagnostic report’s recommendation. But, either will help them achieve their goals!

How do I know if my student is mastering the material?

The system assigns timed quizzes every 150 XP or so. Measuring a student’s knowledge under timed conditions is an important measure of their knowledge. If a student is unable to perform the skills in the time given, then they haven’t quite mastered the material well enough. The system will immediately assign review tasks on topics the student has answered incorrectly or exceeded the time limit. A quiz retake will be available.

For students taking a course for credit, midterms and a final exam will be automatically assigned.

For students needing extra assessment time due to IEP stipulations, it is easy to adjust timings in the Accommodations section of the student settings.

Why are your quizzes timed? Won't that cause a lot of stress?

On quizzes, we consider not only whether a question was answered correctly, but the response time as well, as being able to answer a question in a reasonable amount of time is an important evaluation of both mastery and automaticity.

We provide students with plenty of opportunities to learn, practice and review a skill in untimed conditions prior to being quizzed on that topic. We even go a step further by continuing to build upon existing skills with more advanced skills. This further increases the volume of total practice because we compress a lot of implicit practice into each explicit practice.

After taking a quiz, the topics of any questions answered incorrectly will be scheduled for immediate review, an important feedback and learning methodology. Once the student has completed these reviews, an optional quiz retake covering the same topics (albeit with different questions) will be made available. Doing well on the quiz retake can be very psychologically reinforcing for the student and give them the confidence they need to be successful moving forward.

If you or your student are feeling overwhelmed by the quiz timing, the time allotted for quizzes can be adjusted in the Accommodations section of the student's settings.

What controls whether I get a review? I get reviews for questions that I attempt/miss on quizzes, but sometimes I also get reviews for topics that weren’t on any quiz. But not always. What’s going on with that?

It's true that quizzes do trigger reviews for any questions you attempt and get wrong, but they do pop up naturally too as part of the spaced repetition process. But you don't see reviews pop up that often naturally because we're often able to knock them out implicitly, i.e. by having you complete a lesson on a more advanced topic that effectively counts as practicing the topic you need a review on.

This is especially true when you're first starting out; you'll generally see reviews more often as you do more work on the system (but we do manage to stay pretty efficient by knocking them out implicitly when possible).

What happens if a student fails a lesson?

The system will mark that topic as needing to be readdressed and will be served up again within a few days. It will also identify and prioritize the review of any prerequisite knowledge that may have led to the confusion. Our data has shown that students pass lessons 93% of the time the first time they see it and 98% of the time the second time through.

How does a student get extra help if needed?

We have found that through the system’s highly effective intelligent identification and review process, that outside help is seldom necessary. If a student struggles on a particular topic, the system will automatically identify and review prerequisite material that requires strengthening.

How can I help my student be successful?

Learning math takes focused effort. Reading the lessons carefully, following along with the example problems, and working out solutions with pencil and paper (as opposed to “doing it in their head”) are excellent math habits to encourage from the start. Younger students might need supervision and modeling of this behavior for the first few lessons.

Math Academy lessons don’t require the use of a calculator until Trigonometry, so a pencil and paper is sufficient.

Billing

Do you offer a free trial?

We do not offer a free trial. We are just a small company and pride ourselves on being able to provide responsive and personal service to our Beta Group. We do not have the capacity to be able to handle the volume of customers except serious potential students. We do, though, offer a full 30-day refund for any reason you may find it’s not a good fit.

What payment types do you accept?

Currently, we accept major credit cards, Apple Pay and Google Pay.

Stripe is our payment processor and they currently do not integrate with PayPal, but we do have plans to accept that in the future. Prepaid debit/credit cards are also not accepted.

We need to take a break, can I pause my subscription?

Yes! You can pause your subscription for any reason for up to three months. You will be able to set the length of the pause to fit your circumstances. This feature is available in the Subscription section of your account settings.

Is it hard to cancel my subscription?

Not at all. We realize we’re not going to be a fit for everyone. All you have to do is log in to your account settings, in the Subscriptions section, and click the Cancel button. If you cancel your subscription within the first 30 days, you’ll get a full refund. We’d love some feedback, though, in order to make Math Academy better for everyone.