FAQ

FAQ

Here are answers to real questions potential and current customers have asked us in the past.

Q. What is the most important thing to understand about the practice topics?

For every practice topic in our system, you start with a rating of 0 and the goal is to achieve a rating of at least 100, which means 100% mastery of the topic. The individual levels on the road to a rating of 100 are designed to systematically teach mastery of the skill. There is a lot of thought behind the design of each topic to develop the foundational aspects of the skill being taught in order to achieve true mastery of the skill. This research-based approach is known as mastery learning.

A rating of 50 implies 50% mastery of the topic. Also, difficulty adapts based on accuracy and speed. In fact, if you are really fast, you are given the option to skip levels. Therefore, if you are really good at a skill, it will usually take you only 2-10 minutes to get your rating to 100, depending on the topic. As a teacher, you should generally not be concerned if your student works on a skill that he already knows because he won't waste much actual time to get to a rating of 100.

So in reality, every practice topic in our system doubles as an in-depth assessment of a student's mastery of that skill. So in a sense, MathScore is constantly assessing each student throughout the learning process.

Q. Why do practice topics enforce time limits?

We have a very strong belief that math competence is a function of both speed and accuracy. This is especially true when it comes to very basic computation skills, such as math facts. For the higher order thinking topics, you will notice much more generous time limits because the time factor is less relevant in those cases. When your students reach a rating of 100 on a topic, we believe you will have piece of mind that your students really do understand that topic, and the fact we enforce time limits has a lot to do with that piece of mind, especially when it comes to basic computation skills.

For special situations, it is also possible to add time to topics and turn of the timer entirely (covered later in the FAQ).

Q. What is the most efficient way to use MathScore for a math intervention?

Math interventions are typically done by middle schools and high schools. Usually these students, whether they are in 6th grade or 9th grade, are performing around a 3rd grade level. The goal is generally to find a way for these students to become competent enough to pass Algebra I some day. In our opinion, if a math intervention student could eventually add, subtract, multiply, and divide mixed fractions fluently, the math intervention would be an amazing success. If you agree with that goal in mind, please keep reading.

In doing a math intervention, you have two basic needs:

  1. You must track progress and statistically prove that the intervention is working.
  2. Your students must acquire the math foundation they have always been lacking.

To take care of tracking and statistics, you should start off by assigning the Core Skills Assessment to your math intervention students. This will give you a nice color-coded chart of strengths and weaknesses for each student. Periodically, you should schedule additional Core Skills Assessments once every 1-2 months. If you are using the school version, we additionally recommend that you schedule the tests as school-wide tests using your admin account, then log in with teacher accounts to actually assign them to your students. If you assign them this way, the charting tools will be trackable by grade level instead of just by class.

As for the actual math practice for your students, our recommendations will likely surprise you because they differ from the standard approach of taking a diagnostic test and attempting to fill in the holes suggested by the test. We highly recommend that your students click on the Awards section and focus on earning trophies, ignoring the results of the Core Skills Assessment. Trophy topics are explicitly focused on eventual Algebra I success, and they correlate well with the Core Skills Assessment. When it comes to foundational skills, you cannot afford to risk the possibility that a student does not have 100% mastery. This is why your students should not skip any trophy topics. The only true way to guarantee a proper math foundation is to actually do the trophy topics. That being said, if you really lack the time, once your students complete the Core Skils Assessment, they can click on Topics, click on the Core Skils tab, and work on the topics that are recommended based on the assessment results.

Your students should aim to earn all of the trophies in order. In addition, earning these trophies is the fastest way to unlock all of the avatars and themes. From a motivational perspective, this also gamifies the experience and enables students to set very concrete goals, such as "I want to earn trophy #3" by next Friday. Please remember that because difficulty adapts based on performance, if your students are good at a skill, it will not take long to reach a rating of 100, so very little time will be wasted.

Earning trophy 6 would be the signature accomplishment that proves true competence with fractions. Earning trophy 9 would be the equivalent of finishing a pre-Algebra course. Earning trophy 14 would demonstrate real competence with Algebra I, suggesting a high likelihood of being able to pass a standardized Algebra I test.

When your math intervention is done, assign one last Core Skills Assessment and use the tools to graph student progress across multiple tests. If you've followed our trophy recommendations, we think you will be very proud to show the results to your fellow teachers and administrators!

Q. What are the best known motivational techniques for MathScore?

As a teacher, your single most important goal is to help your students care about their progress in MathScore. If they care about their points, ranks, trophies earned, etc, they will achieve phenomenal results. Here are the tried and true ways that successful teachers have achieved this:

  • At the end of each practice session, log in with your account, click on Track Progress, then click on the Get Progress button (found in the View Progress section) to bring up an activity summary. This will show you exactly what each student accomplished that day. This tool works in real-time, by the way, so you can run an activity summary as many times as you want while the students are actually practicing. Toward the bottom of the summary, you will see Engaged Time Rankings. Make it a point to verbally praise the top 5 (or more) students that worked the hardest and say out loud how much engaged time those students recorded. For added drama, start with the 5th best time, then finish with the first place student.

    There is perhaps nothing more effective than this technique. You will see the way your students react, and more importantly, you will see how they behave the next time they work on MathScore, all eager to aim for first place, which by the way, can be achieved regardless of academic ability.

  • Students love earning points, and consequently love earning the ranks that go with those points. Some of the most successful teachers dedicate some classroom wall space to publicly post the current ranks (or points) of all of the students.

    Psychologically speaking, this takes advantage of the competitive instinct to beat somebody else. Students often have a fellow student that they mentally compete against, even if they never verbalize it. Nobody wants to be left in the dust, so the effect is a greater desire to master topics in MathScore, which by the way, is the only way to earn tons of points.

  • Host an EduFighter Tournament on a specific day. MathScore EduFighter is no ordinary game. It allows up to 8 simultaneous players playing on 4-player teams. The math problems you must answer to play the game are all computationally foundational skills. Furthermore, in order to unlock and use the more powerful weapons, you have to first master the comparable skils using the MathScore practice environment.

    To motivate your students, you must come up with qualifications to play in the EduFighter tournament. A simple and effective requirement is for your students to have earned certain trophies to qualify. For example, requiring that you must earn trophies 1, 2, 3, and 4 in order to play in the tournament could work quite well.

Q. Will MathScore be fun for my students?

Yes. The founder of MathScore was addicted to video games as a child. He innately understands games and built MathScore in a way to harness the "I have to beat this level" mentality. Just let your students use MathScore and follow our motivational guidelines. You will discover that we indeed have achieved what we consider to be the hardest challenge in all of educational software, which is to provide a very effective, efficient educational experience in a format that is just fun enough to keep students interested. It is easy to make a fun program with questionable educational benefit, but to make one that is both fun and very educational is what we believe we have achieved, and we hope you can appreciate what we have to offer.

Q. What does it cost?

MathScore Freemium (for families and single classroom teachers) starts out free for all students. In free mode, everybody has full access to our assessments, and you can use a limited, but useful set of topics (including math facts).

As your students achieve real success, you will then need to start upgrading them to paid access so they can use more advanced topics. The first paid student costs $9.95/month, the second costs $3.00/month, and additional students cost only $1.50/month. You can get additional discounts by making a lump sum payment, which can buy multiple months of service at once.

The School Version is cheaper per student than the Home Version, but requires a minimum purchase of $300. For a quote, click here. Outside of schools, it is common for private tutoring businesses to buy the school version.

We also have some private licensing agreements with other companies, and are open to new opportunities.

Q. My Student's Password Doesn't Work. How to Log in?

If this is your question, chances are, your student attends a school that uses MathScore, but you found the MathScore Freemium login page, so your login information does not work. To get to the School Version, you need to visit the correct webpage. For some help logging into the school version, click here.

Q. How do I transfer a student from one school to another school in the same district?

This will require coordination between admins from both schools. Here's what you do:

Original School

  1. Log in as the admin.
  2. Click on Students, then click on View Students.
  3. View the student roster, then click on the student's name.
  4. Read the information about exporting scores for that student. Download the scores into a text file, then email that file to the admin at the other school.

New School

  1. Log in as the admin.
  2. Click on Students, then click on Add Student.
  3. Add the student as if the student is brand new.
  4. Now click on View Students, view the roster, and click on the student's name.
  5. You will see a form for importing student scores. Taking the file that was emailed to you, cut and paste the student scores and worksheet history, then click on the button to submit the data.
  6. Voila! Your student is now imported. Due to technical reasons, assessment data is not preserved, but all of the student's ratings and worksheet history, which is what the student cares about most, will be preserved.

Q. Can I turn off the timer?

Yes. When logged in as the admin or as a teacher, click to view the student roster, then click on a student's name. You will see two timer-related options. You can explicitly enable/disable the timer, and you can also increase the "seconds per problem padding" so that your students get some additional time, which might be all they need.

The only word of caution we want to emphasize is that the use of our timer is clearly recommended for most students. It is natural for some students to get frustrated. Depending on the student's personality, sometimes that frustration is a healthy, competitive type of frustration, and sometimes it can be detrimental. Let the competitive types keep the timer and turn it off or extend it for the ones that can't handle the time pressure.

Q. How do I reset a score on a topic back to 0?

When we say score here, we actually mean student rating for a particular topic. Here are your options:
  • Assuming your student already has a rating of 100, please consider this alternative: Rather than delete the score, which destroys all past worksheet history for the topic, ask the student to do 5 worksheets in a row. If the student has really forgotten the topic, his rating will drop below 100. If the student maintains or increases his rating, then clearly the student has maintained his knowledge and the score should not be reset.
  • To delete the score, log in with your admin/parent/teacher account, click on the student's name, click to view progress for all attempted topics, then click on the topic name that you care about. You will see a popup with detailed worksheet history. At the bottom of the page, there will be a link you can click on to delete all worksheet history and rating for that topic.
  • When using the school version only, you can also delete scores for a topic for all of your students at once. When viewing your student roster, click on "class stats per topic" and then click on the topic of your choice. At the bottom of the page, you'll find a link to delete all student scores for that topic.

Q. My student sometimes scores 100% on a worksheet. Why hasn't the rating increased?

The short answer is, based on speed and accuracy, your student simply hasn't gotten good enough to reach the next level. The difficulty adaptation algorithms are too complex to describe, but the simple thing to know is that every time your student scores 100% on a worksheet, the next one will be harder, and every time your students does poorly (misses a bunch) on a worksheet, the next one becomes easier. The only way to raise a rating is to repeatedly do well. Chances are, your student is simply hovering around a certain level of competence and needs additional practice to get better.

Q. How often should I assign an assessment?

If you've never used our assessments, here are some benefits:
  1. You get a breakdown of strengths and weaknesses.
  2. MathScore automatically recommends topics based on the assessment.
  3. More analysis tools become available after you've done 2 or more assessments.
As for frequency, the answer depends on how much computer access you have available for your students. Here are some suggestions:
  • Typical school (1 hour of total computer access per week): We recommend that you assign an assessment at the beginning of the school year, at the end of the school year, and one or two times in between, for a total of 3-4 assessments.
  • Strongly guided math intervention (at least 2 hours of computer access per week): It might make sense to assign the Core Skills assessment once or twice per month.
  • No assessments at all: If computer access is really tight, you might want to ignore our assessment features altogether and just have your students work on the recommended topics. MathScore has been proven to raise test scores with this approach, so there's nothing wrong with it!

Q. What is engaged time and how should I use it?

Engaged time is our best guess (only a guess) as to how much time was spent at the computer really working. First of all, consider the process of using MathScore. A student will start a worksheet, submit the worksheet for grading, review the results (sometimes read solution explanations), then start the next worksheet. Worksheet time is equal to the sum of all the time spent on the actual worksheets themselves. However, what about the time spent reviewing the worksheet results and reading solution explanations? We cannot directly measure the time spent reviewing results. This is where engaged time kicks in. If the student is persistently working on a math topic without jumping around and is getting reasonable accuracy, then we consider that "good worksheet time", which is depicted by green font in the worksheet time section of our activity summaries. In addition, some of the time spent reviewing results between worksheets is therefore deemed to be time well spent. Engaged time is equal to the sum of all good worksheet time and some of the time spent between worksheets. As a general rule, if a student is engaged 70% of the time while using MathScore, that shows decent effort. Anything less than that is a red flag.

Sometimes there is controversy over engaged time. If the teaching staff at a school explicitly tells their students to achieve a certain amount of worksheet time, some of the lower performing students will focus on time spent as their goal instead of actual learning. They will attempt to game the system by explicitly letting the timer run for a long time even when they could otherwise complete each worksheet more quickly. We have secret algorithms that attempt to detect improper use of MathScore. To explain them in detail would be a mistake because it could lead to students reverse-engineering things to beat our algorithms. When we think students are gaming the system, we mark the worksheet time in red font and the engaged time for that portion of time is 0. When this happens, questions arise. We understand that assigning time spent as homework is convenient. However, that can lead to bad behavior, so here is our homework recommendation: Require students to either master a required topic in MathScore or record 30 minutes (or whatever you choose) of genuine time spent. Make sure the students understand that a concept of engaged time does exist and that they should be genuinely trying to master skills. If a student spends 30 minutes without raising a rating, that is very suspicious if it happens frequently. Furthermore, for your students that are most likely to waste time, you might want to create a custom course and force the course upon those students. This makes it so those students have no choice but to work only on the topics that you explicitly want them to work on.


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