A+ Interactive Math offers complete computer-based math courses for first grade through Algebra 1 in your choice of CD-ROM or online delivery. A+ provides comprehensive course coverage that meets and exceeds state and national standards and teaches with fairly traditional methods. The teaching is available via either multimedia lessons or a more typical text format (through ebooks). The multimedia lessons are going to be the choice for most families, possibly using the text version that comes with it for reference or review. (You can purchase only the text version, but I doubt that will be the option most families select.)
The multimedia lessons are great for the student who prefers to be taught. Each lesson walks the student through the topic step-by-step, following the same content as is in the text but adding color and the voice of a teacher. Students may fast forward or review the teaching presentation. At the end of a multimedia lesson presentation, they can review the lesson in the text format or they can go immediately to the set of interactive practice questions. If a student misses a practice problem, the program automatically reteaches the concept. Sometimes students will need to work with pencil and paper off the computer to determine answers that are too complex for mental solutions. Once they have determined their answer, they select from multiple-choice options or type the answer into the computer depending upon the type of question.
A recommended lesson plan sequence is provided by the program, but students can jump around between lessons (or you can assign lessons in your preferred sequence) rather than following a set progression.
While the basic course material is the same across the different platforms, there are critical differences in functionality. CD-ROM courses run on Windows PC systems while online courses require a high-speed internet connection and can be used on Windows PCs, Macs, or even tablets.
The courses each contain worksheets and exams that are traditionally formatted. In the CD-ROM versions, these need to be printed for students to complete off the computer. (A+ sells pre-printed worksheet books if you prefer not to print them yourself.). A Worksheets Solution Guide and an Exams Solution Guide are both included in each course for parental use. Parents can use the Admin Panel to limit student access to these resources in the online or CD-ROM Premium Edition but not in the Standard Edition. I think this is so important that if you are purchasing the CD-ROM version of an A+ course, I recommend only the Premium Edition—skip the Standard Edition.
Standard CD-ROM programs do not track student scores, but Premium CD-ROM programs can do so. With Release 8 of the Premium CD-ROM, students can enter their answers on the computer, and the program automatically grades and track student answers. Parents can review student answers and can even override if needed. Parent can also print reports and certificates.
Online courses have automatically generated worksheets and exams with automatic scoring and tracking. Online courses still have printable worksheets and exams if parents wish to use them. (You might want to use them so that students can show their work along with their answers.) These will need to be corrected manually.
Topics are taught individually and worksheets have problems pertaining only to the current topic. However, there are periodic cumulative review exams in all three versions. Step-by-step solutions for the exam problems will help student refresh their memories if necessary. (Students can also go back and review previous lessons if needed.)
CD-ROMs will handle up to five students while the online versions are available for in either “single grade” or “family” packages. You can subscribe to the online version for one or more students, with price drops for each additional student. I recommend the “family” package for even a single student. The cost is only slightly higher, and it gives the student access to multiple grade levels. This helps if students need to review concepts from earlier levels or if they are ready for more challenging work at a higher grade level.
If you use a Premium CD-ROM version, you can add up to 5 students during initial setup or add up to 5 students at a later time by logging in as an Admin. Some parents might want to purchase the CD-ROM versions since reusing the program in this way can make the cost very low per student.
Adaptive Placement Test and Individualized Lesson Plan
A+ has added an Adaptive Placement Test with Individualized Lesson Plan. While this option is not free, it might be an excellent investment. Students begin with an online, interactive placement test that assesses student mastery of each area of a particular grade level. The program then identifies weak areas and reteaches with multimedia lessons. It creates an individualized lesson plan that then walks students through video lessons, interactive review, practice problems, and a post-test. The Adaptive Placement Test helps you make sure there are no learning gaps after instruction has taken place. Adaptive Placement is sold in three-month subscriptions, with price breaks for multiple students. You might want to use this at the end of the school year and over the summer to be certain your child is ready to advance to the next level. Theoretically, a student could work through an entire year’s program using three or four three-month subscriptions since the instructional content is the same as that used in the full courses, but the intent is that the Adaptive Placement Test be used for short term assessment and intervention. Students can even use the Adaptive Placement Test if their core math program is from another publisher.
A+ offers numerous options to fit various situations, but it seems to me that the best option (as long as you have a high speed internet connection) is the family package for online courses. This option gives you the most flexibility and functionality.
A+ provides free one-month trial access to Family Math Packages Online or Single Grade Level Online courses for you to try. You can download the trial version of the CD Software as well.