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Math Prep Review by Dr. Anne Margaret Wright

Carnegie Learning, Inc.
Frick Building, 20th Floor
437 Grant Street
Pittsburgh, PA 15219
888-851-7094
http://www.carnegielearning.com/

How do you graph linear inequalities? Or convert fractions to decimals and vice versa? Or multiply exponents? Or do trigonometric transformations? Or deal with the properties of quadrilaterals? Maybe these questions do not come up often in everyday life, but they do appear frequently on achievement exams, such as those required by many states for homeschooled students, and the SAT and ACT tests that are often required of college-bound students. If your student has worked through all of these issues and many more, but needs a solid, targeted review before taking an achievement exam, then you may find Math Prep ($60) to be an invaluable tool. Math Prep is a computer program that uses research about how students learn to first assess their areas of strength and weakness and then to apply artificial intelligence to target their areas of weakness. Math Prep is specifically geared toward reviewing math for high school achievement tests, but I believe it would also be a wonderful tool for preparing for the SAT or ACT exams.

The program can be set up for multiple students and gives detailed reports about each student's progress through the interface of the Teacher's Toolkit. It begins with a pretest to assess the student's current learning, giving the student and parent feedback about which areas are well mastered and which areas need the most review. The program automatically adjusts to the student's needs as it moves through up to 130 hours of Pre-Algebra to Algebra 2 content. It covers nearly 50 different topics in enough depth for the student to master the content before moving on to something else. As the student works through each problem, the program guides his thinking and gives intuitive guidance to help him correct mistakes. Multiple representations of the problems are presented to help the student reason through the process of solving them. For example, when reviewing multiplication of fractions, such as � x �, the program first presents a grid and asks the student how many parts to break each axis of the grid into (2 and 4). Then the student is asked how many of those parts are represented in the problem (1 and 3). Then the student is asked to slide the marker to color in those areas, thus revealing the area marked by both sides of the problem. Then they are taken through the numerical work of finding the answer. The final step is for the student to specify whether the fractional answer can be reduced, and if so, they have the opportunity to reduce it before submitting their answer. Hints and guides are available at every stage, and a Skillometer provides constant feedback for how much of that skill the student has mastered.

I was very impressed with the solid research behind this powerful program, the scope and sequence of the lessons, the careful process of leading the student through the steps of solving the problem, and the ever-present hints and helps. It took a few minutes to figure out the setup, and I had to refer to the manual (which was very helpful) to learn the generic passwords to start the program. But once you're in, the program is fairly straightforward to use. The Teacher's Toolbox allows the teacher to set up the student files, monitor progress, assign certain areas to review, etc. The Teacher's Guide includes information about setting up the student files and running the program, a wonderful Mathematics Reference Sheet, and three Practice Tests with answers. Carnegie Learning has several other products (based on the same research) that provide more in-depth study of high school math skills. These would also be worth investigating. Math Prep could be excellent as a review tool prior to taking an achievement exam, as a year-long remedial program for students who are struggling in math, or just as a great way to brush up on some weak areas in math!

Product review by Dr. Anne Margaret Wright, The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, LLC, August 2007

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